The announcement was made in this letter to students.
I recognise many of you are understandably anxious, given the unprecedented circumstances that the world faces with the current coronavirus pandemic. While the global disruption caused by Covid-19 will not last forever, I am writing to let you know what measures we are taking immediately to reassure you, protect your health and ensure that your learning can continue.
Please share this message with your friends and families, who I know will also wish to understand what the University is doing to support you. The UK government last night confirmed it is moving into the ‘delay’ phase of its Coronavirus Action Plan, advising people with a new persistent cough or high temperature to self-isolate for seven days. It has currently held back from announcing larger-scale measures across the country such as social isolation or restrictions on public gatherings.
While the University is following all advice from the UK health authorities and government, I am acutely conscious of the concerns felt in our community and want to do everything we can to support you in this unprecedented situation.
Transition to Online Learning – 23 March 2020
The University has been making plans to deliver our teaching online, and we will treat next week as a transition period to accelerate these plans to deliver all teaching online from Monday 23 March. This means there will be no face-to-face lectures, seminars or tutorials from Monday 23 March. Your Schools and tutors will advise you about arrangements for sessions and support over the course of next week.
We are also cancelling any planned student study, field or social trips overseas, as well as residential field trips in the UK, inviting overseas placement students to return early and advising everyone in our community to consider if overseas travel is at all essential at this time, in case people become subject to travel restrictions while overseas.
The University will remain open while we deliver teaching online and we will ensure our learning facilities and services remain available to you for now, as well as ensuring accommodation for those students who wish to stay with us over the Easter break. I appreciate that some of our students may not be able to return home, and so we will make additional provision for you to stay on campus should you wish.
Advice and information
These are unprecedented measures taken in unprecedented times. I appreciate that everyone’s circumstances will be different, and you will have many questions as we move into our transition.
Essential advice is posted on the University’s COVID-19 information webpages and the MyNottingham app, which covers official government advice on identifying and reporting symptoms, as well as general information on health, travel, and self-isolation should this become necessary. Do take some time to read the information provided and ensure that you are familiar with – and follow – the official advice.
Helplines will be available from Monday 16 March to enable staff and students to report illness or self-isolation by phone or email and get advice on employment or academic concerns linked to coronavirus. We will communicate with you again to let you know how to get in touch.
If you are intending to travel overseas, please follow all advice and note any travel restrictions for your intended destination published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on its Foreign Travel Advice webpages. In all cases, please consider if your travel is at all essential at this time. The situation is evolving rapidly and you may become subject to new restrictions while you are overseas and may be required to self-isolate upon your return.
I appreciate that some of you may wish to return to your homes in the UK or overseas early and would only ask that you do so safely, stay in touch with your Schools and tutors, and continue to engage with your teaching and learning when it is made available online.
Precautions and self-isolation
The main defence against transmission of the coronavirus remains to observe good respiratory and hand hygiene – washing your hands regularly and catching coughs and sneezes in safely-disposed tissues.
To help to continue to protect our community, I urge you all to follow the latest health advice to self-isolate for seven days if you develop with a new persistent cough or high temperature. Please respect and support those who self-isolate, as they are doing so in the interests of their own health and that of those around them.
The University is preparing further action for the time if or when the UK health authorities order larger scale measures across the country such as social isolation, restrictions on public gatherings, or the formal closure of schools, colleges or universities.
This includes measures such as alternative approaches to examinations and assessment and ensuring that we make any changes necessary to ensure that your education is not disadvantaged by these extraordinary circumstances. We will continue to develop these contingency plans, and keep you informed of any changes as we move forward. Please continue to check our COVID-19 information webpages or the MyNottingham app regularly and follow the University social media channels for further updates. I will write to you again with any further information. I will be communicating again early next week, and we will be sending regular messages to our students as the situation evolves over the next few weeks.
I know this is a difficult time for everyone in our University community, but I am grateful for the many examples I have heard of staff and students who have pulled together to support each other. By working together, our community will get to the other side of these terrible circumstances.
In the meantime, I wish you, your families and your friends all good health and fortune for the coming weeks.
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham