Returning to Campus

We are currently preparing a phased programme to support staff with returning to campus. This will need to be managed carefully to ensure staff safety, and is currently limited to those identified as a priority by their manager. All other staff will continue to work from home until further notice.

The safety of of our University community is our top priority in our approach to returning staff to campus:

Staff should not come onto campus unless specifically asked to do so. You will be contacted directly by your line manager if you are eligible to return, at which point you will be able to discuss how this would best work for you. If you have further questions about returning to campus, you should discuss these with your manager in the first instance.

Read more on measures to ensure staff safety on campus, how managers will identify those who need to return, and what will happen on your return to help you adapt

Before returning to campus, you are advised to read our Covid-19 Code of Conduct for Students and Staff 

Safety on campus

Our Estates and Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) teams are working hard to put the necessary infrastructure in place to make sure the campus is safe, in line with the latest Government guidelines and social distancing requirements.

This includes determining which buildings are safe to open and what their maximum capacity will be, how to set up 'one-way' routes to enable staff to move about safely, and ensuring the right signage is in place. Each Division/Department has also been assigned a 'Building Lead Manager' accountable for the maintenance of the safe environment of the spaces they occupy, working closely with Estates and SHE.

The University-Wide COVID-19 Risk Assessment applies to all our UK sites. Risk assessments on mental health and role-specific assignments such as for those who work laboratories are being developed by the SHE Unit, while existing risk assessments are also being reviewed in relation to any activity requiring contact with others. 

The safety of staff is a priority, with the following safeguards in place:

  • A University-wide risk assessment has been undertaken and approved by the JSNCC
  • Maximum occupancy numbers have been based on 2m social distancing requirements and the need to minimise the transmission of the Coronavirus. This will remain for the time being while we review new Government policy
  • Social distancing signage is being displayed to highlight maximum occupancies for different spaces, such as the kitchen and WC areas
  • One-way systems have been implemented in common areas of buildings to facilitate social distancing
  • Signage is being displayed to remind staff of good hygiene: washing hands more regularly, proper hand washing technique, use of tissues to catch coughs and sneezes etc.
  • Sanitising units have been installed at strategic locations in every general building on campus.
  • Staff arrival and departure times are being staggered to avoid overcrowding
  • Communal use of equipment will be avoided as much as possible 

The latest government guidance states that groups of up to 6 people can meet indoors or outdoors providing they socially distance from each other. This means keeping 2 metres apart from those they don’t live with where possible.  

If keeping 2 metres apart is not possible, this can be reduced to 1 metre if appropriate safety measures, including face coverings, are in place. 

Please adhere to the ‘rule of 6’ when socially engaging with others, for example during lunchtime and walking around campus.  

Please be aware there are some relevant exceptions to the ‘rule of 6’namely: 

  • For educational or work purposes (this includes running seminars for 6+ students) 
  • A meeting of a single household (e.g. if a student residence includes more than 6 individuals they may meet as a household) 

Please reduce social contact and maintain social distancing. Signage has been installed across campus to help you.

We have a large campus and only small numbers of students will be invited on-campus at one time. The return of staff to campus is being staggered to ensure capacity restrictions are adhered to. This will make social distancing easy to follow.

Each building will have a Lead Building Manager who will help ensure social distancing is maintained. If you have any concerns, please report these to the Lead Building Manager.

We expect all staff and students to wear a face covering in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or where we indicate the need to. This is most likely for short periods indoors; in crowded areas, corridors, shops, and food outlets. More widely, we expect staff and students to follow the government advice on face coverings. 

Fabric face coverings are not PPE. There is no evidence that wearing a face covering prevents the wearer becoming infected with coronavirus, but they may help stop the spread of the illness from asymptomatic individuals. These will only be effective if they are worn properly, covering the nose and mouth snugly, and kept clean. 

Facemasks can easily be made at home, the key thing being that it should cover the mouth and nose. You are encouraged to follow the Government advice on how to wear and make a cloth face covering

If you feel unwell you should go home as soon as possible. If you have coronavirus symptoms (fever, continuous cough, change in or loss of taste or smell) try to book a coronavirus test before you leave as you may be able to get an immediate test on campus. 

If you need to wait on campus for transport home and you have your own office, please wait there. If you need to wait and don't have your own office it is best to wait outside well away from others. If the weather is bad or you will have a long wait, the following rooms have been set aside for your use:

  • Canterbury - Chipperfield Extension G03 and Keynes CG05A
  • Medway - Clocktower/Area 9 (Rest/Recovery Room) and Medway Building M0.04

If you have one, please wear a face covering while on campus.  

Please keep your line manager informed and let them know of any coronavirus test results as soon as you have them. 

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms can ask for a for a free test to check if they have the virus. Staff can use the NHS online coronavirus service for information on what the test involves and to book an appointment.

Local testing sites (LTS) are  now open on both the Canterbury and Medway campuses.

The Canterbury LTS is located on the Rutherford Car Park and is open 08.00-20.00, seven days a week, excluding bank holidays. The LTS is open to staff, students and members of the general public. It is an externally managed self-contained unit, containing all its own facilities such as water, power and waste. There is no need for individuals being tested or LTS staff to access any University buildings.

The testing facility at Medway campus is located in front of the Jellicoe building, in the car park accessed by North Road. From 19 September, it will be open 08.00-20.00, seven days a week.

Where possible, we are encouraging staff and students to walk and cycle to and from our campuses. It’s also recommended that you carry a face covering with you at all times, in line with government guidelines on safer travel. 

For latest advice on travelling to campus during the coronavirus outbreak, see our Estates webpages

Which staff will be able to return

No, please do not come on to campus unless you are authorised otherwise you are putting the safety of colleagues and our community at risk.

Only those who have received authorisation to be on campus are allowed at this stage. If you have not been advised by your line manager and received a letter from HR confirming that you are allowed back on campus then you will need to continue to work from home for the time being.  If you do have a personal preference to return, please speak to your line manager.

We are working hard to keep our sites COVID Secure, and this can only be done by managing our building capacity, and ensuring all those on campus are aware of, and adhere to, the safety measures in place. 

After a recent assessment of the use of space within our buildings, it has been agreed that we can now accommodate more staff to safely return, in some buildings.  All the while ensuring we adhere to the limits set by the maximum occupancy in each office space.

The criteria for staff returning remains in place, however, we are now able to expand our categories to consider those who would prefer to return to work on campus:

1. Business critical role, which cannot be performed remotely

2. Business critical role with lack of specialist equipment only available on campus

3. Clinical reason (Mental health and/or physical health) and/or vulnerability/risk of harm

4. Working environment / Personal circumstances at home/well-being

5. Member of staff who indicates a wish or personal preference to return (as long as they can be safely accommodated and their presence does not mean work space capacity is exceeded). 

Managers will undertake an assessment of their staff based on the above criteria to determine those who are a priority for return. These staff will then be ranked depending on how urgent their need is, with HR managing this process centrally. 

Staff are encouraged to be as open as possible with their managers in declaring any constraints that may necessitate or hinder their return to campus. Any information shared with HR will be entirely confidential and only used to help decide who most needs to return.

Staff identified for return will be contacted directly to confirm that this is the case, together with the date they are able to return from. Staff will receive a formal letter from HR confirming this. This will be a two-way process, with staff discussing with their manager what they will need to have in place to support this. If staff and their line managers are unable to agree on an approach, you will need to contact your HR representative, in line with our line management policies.

The key driver for identifying staff for a priority return is the nature of their work, whether it is critical to University activity and whether it can only be delivered on campus.

Staff must be identified in a consistent and transparent way, in keeping with the agreed principles and criteria. Managers have been given specific guidance on this, helping them balance the needs of individual staff with showing fairness across the workforce, promoting inclusion as much as possible and recognising colleagues whose protected characteristics may expose them to a different degree of risk.

As part of this, managers will also need to consider the needs of clinically extremely vulnerable workers and those with caring responsibilities who should be prioritised to remain at home, while also taking into account the risk of age, sex and disability discrimination.

Staff who wish to continue to work from home and are able to do so are unlikely to be prioritised for return. Any decisions regarding coming back to campus will also need to be agreed between managers and individual staff, ensuring this is a two-way process. Managers will try to reach a mutually agreeable compromise wherever possible, referring to our flexible working policy where appropriate.

If it is considered essential that your work is based on campus but you are anxious about returning, your manager will talk with you about different options to support you in doing your work, such as different working hours if appropriate.

It is also important to remember that the campus will be safe and that staff will only be asked to return when any risks in their area have been carefully assessed. 

Before inviting a visitor on campus, it is important to consider if the visit can be accommodated and if the individual is able to travel to the UK (where applicable).

HR are currently working with senior managers to identify who needs to be back on campus, which will be phased and is currently limited to essential staff only. This will affect the ability to host visitors on campus and you may need to consider collaborating remotely or delaying the visit.

In addition, for those travelling from outside of the UK, consideration must be given to the ability to obtain the correct visa (due to the closure of some centres) and any quarantine requirements where the visitor may be required to have pre-arranged accommodation in the UK.

No, at this time we are not prioritising such staff for return to campus. The SHE Unit is closely monitoring First Aid provision across campus to ensure there is sufficient coverage.

 In regards to fire marshalling, not all buildings on campus have Fire Marshals in place. Instead they rely on increased staff vigilance and support from Campus Security​ who routinely attend all fire alarm activations. This approach is being expanded across campus for the time being    

The official shielding period ended on 31 July and Government guidance for those deemed extremely clinically vulnerable, states that wherever possible you should be given the opportunity to work from home. However if you wish to return, or simply cannot work from home, returning is an option as our workplace is COVID-Secure with all Risk Assessments and mitigations in place.

A series of new safety measures ensure we are COVID-Secure including; reduced building capacity, one-way systems, hand sanitiser at all entrances, and clear signage.  All staff returning to campus have a Risk and Concern Conversation with their manager, and any concerns are dealt with as appropriate to the individual’s circumstances.

If you can effectively work remotely, your work is not student facing, or does not require your presence on campus, you should to continue to work from home. If this is not the case, please speak to your line manager. 

What will happen on your return

All staff returning to campus will have a Risk Assessment and Concern conversation with their line manager in advance of their first day.  The purpose of this is to discover whether staff have any concerns about returning, to try to alleviate those concerns by discussing the measures that have been put in place to ensure that their workplace is COVID-secure and to determine whether any additional measures are needed.

There will also be a dedicated online training module to support staff with adapting to the return to working on site, and a re-induction checklist to complete, to ensure staff are aware of the local arrangements for their building, the expectations regarding hygiene and social distancing, and actions to take if a member of staff exhibits coronavirus symptoms. 

We recognise that people will understandably continue to have concerns over both the ongoing health crisis and the psychological impact caused by the current restrictions on daily life. Many staff will also have experienced challenging domestic situations, potential financial worries, or illness or bereavement in recent weeks.

Managers will continue to support you with this as you adjust to working in a shared environment with colleagues. There is also detailed guidance and information to help with managing anxiety on our Covid-19 Health and wellbeing pages.

Government guidance is that if someone cannot work from home, they should cycle or walk to their place of work wherever possible. However, many people rely on public transport to get to and from work and will have legitimate concerns about both its safety and availability.

Your manager will discuss any concerns about this with you as part of the return-to-work process, including considering offering increased flexibility over start and finish times or changing working hours where appropriate.

There is also specific Government guidance on travelling on public transport, while local providers South Eastern, Stagecoach and Arriva have published their own further information. 

The Templeman Library on Canterbury campus has re-opened and is offering a limited service, in line with government guidance.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students remains the highest priority and only restricted numbers are allowed into the Library at this time. Our aim is to ensure that those people most in need are able to access the Library, including postgraduates and those studying for August exams/assessments.

If you need a resource, please consider looking for an e-resource in the first instance using LibrarySearch Digital.

The Drill Hall Library on Medway campus has also re-opened, from 11.00-15.00, Monday to Friday. 

For food on campus, the Rutherford Dining Hall will be open throughout the summer from 12.00-18.00, Monday to Sunday.

The main Kent Union Plaza Co-op store remains open, but with reduced hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 08.00–19.00
  • Saturday: 09.00–18.00
  • Sunday: 12.00–18.00.

Find out which catering outlets are now open.  

As long as social distancing (minimum 1 metre) is maintained at all times, there is no restriction on who you can meet up with on campus - you don't have to be part of the same office "bubble". You should bear in mind, however, the 'rule of 6' (see Safety on Campus/How does the 'rule of 6' work in a university setting FAQ) when deciding how many colleagues to meet up with socially.

Latest advice on social distancing is available on the NHS website and the Government’s guidelines on staying safe outside your home.

ALL staff meetings should be taking place online – eg via Microsoft Teams – especially because not all staff are currently on campus. Staff interviews should also be held online so there is no need to book rooms for this purpose.

Staff organising an event that supports education or the student experience (eg external speakers) should be able to book a room using the staff booking form. Authorised members of student societies can also book rooms for related activities via Kent Union webpages.  

All safety requirements regarding public and teaching spaces will continue to apply (ie hand washing and sanitisation, face coverings, and social distancing).

Limitations on social group sizes (now 6) means that additional visitors to campus for events should be limited to the external speaker. However, events can be recorded to be viewed remotely, eg using Microsoft Teams.

This guidance will be kept under review, in line with latest government guidance.  

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