Returning to Campus

We have been implementing a phased programme to support staff with returning to campus, led by advice from the Government, Public Health England and Universities UK. With the announcement of a national lockdown between 5 November and 2 December 2020, we are committed to ensuring all our staff can work effectively regardless of location.

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 have been 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 the safe, maximum capacity for buildings, setting 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 Government has set out four ‘Tiers of Restriction’ concerning HE provision. These differ to the national Covid Alert Levels, which are sometimes called ‘tiers’ or ‘local lockdowns’.

The Tiers of Restriction recommend restrictions to HE provision. If restrictions are required, these should be implemented in a phased manner.

Kent is currently operating at Tier 2 and is also following the national lockdown regulations. At this position, HE providers are expected to continue with their blended learning approach, with online and face-to-face tuition where it is safe to do so. There may be some changes to other campus services.

We have set up a dedicated webpage which outlines the four Tiers of Restriction and the HE provision at each level.

Further information concerning the Tiers can be found on the Government guidance concerning reopening buildings and campuses

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.

In line with Government advice, it is expected that all students and staff wear face coverings on campus, when in public areas, including teaching spaces and where social distancing is difficult to maintain. However, please be considerate of those who may be unable to do this for medical reasons.

All internal public areas across campus are at risk of becoming crowded, particularly as students and staff move between teaching spaces. Because of this, the University expects all to wear face coverings in public areas of buildings. More widely, we expect staff and students to follow the government advice on face coverings. 

Face coverings will only be effective if they are worn properly, covering the nose and mouth, fitted snugly, and kept clean. You are encouraged to follow the Government advice on face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how make your own

It can be frustrating and worrying if colleagues, students or visitors around you are not following the Government guidance. Although most of our university community are complying, occasionally you may come across someone who appears not to be following the rules.

Knowing how to challenge someone who isn't following Covid guidelines can be difficult. It is important to remember that they may not understand what is expected of them. Please see our webpage for advice on how to deal with non-Covid behaviour.

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  please wait in your own office. If don't have your own office, it is best to wait outside well away from others. However, if the weather is bad, or you have a long wait, rooms have been set aside for your use. Call Campus Security on 01227 823300, who will direct you to the nearest available room on campus. 

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

More information on what to do if you, or one of your team, has Covid-19 symptoms or has been advised to self-isolate, is available in our new guides:

Firstly, don’t panic! Check they are okay and ask if they have informed the University by completing this webform and copy in covidsupport@kent.ac.uk. You don’t need to anything else. This webform triggers a Student Services cascade of responses: the student will be contacted, offered support for both emotional and practical needs and, if required, relevant close contacts identified, checked for NHS Track & Trace alert, and advice offered with booking a test. The school will be contacted directly by the Covid Support team if further information or action is required. You can contact covidsupport@kent.ac.uk with any specific questions, but remember the reporting form completed by individual students automatically informs our tracker – and your academic school – of anyone self-isolating.

If you are informed of self-isolating students and they feel well, offer them academic support via an Academic Advisor, your Student Support team or module tutors – whatever works best for your school.

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. 

[UPDATED 5 NOVEMBER] At this time when operating at Tier 2 of the Government's 'Tiers of Restriction' for Higher Education, during the period of new national restrictions (5 November – 2 December 2020) whilst universities remain open, those who can work from home without affecting the educational experience of students, should do so.

In determining who should be working on campus at this time, only staff meeting the following criteria can work on campus:

1.       Where staff undertake business critical activities that cannot be performed remotely

2.       Where the role is business critical and requires specialist facilities or equipment, including software or physical files, that are only available on campus

For the new period of national restrictions, those staff who were brought back onto campus although they could carry out their role remotely, should now work from home. Individuals with serious concerns for their welfare because of this should raise this with their line managers.

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).

Visitors are permitted on campus if they represent normal university activities, such as visiting lecturers and researchers, although you may wish to consider options which would allow for remote collaboration or online lectures at this stage, or rather delaying the visit.

Any visit should be risk assessed locally and the individual should be provided with detail of the Covid-secure measures that apply on campus, including face coverings in buildings, one-way systems in place, and rules for teaching spaces. The maximum building limitations currently in place also apply to any visitors and therefore may affect the ability to host visitors on campus. When considering hosting a visitor, the department should consider how to do so when most offices are defined as single occupancy.

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    

[NEW - 5 NOVEMBER] Staff who meet the definition of Extremely Clinically Vulnerable should not be at work on campus during the period of new national restrictions (5 November – 2 December 2020). You should work from home where possible, and if you cannot work from home, you should still not attend work for this period of restrictions.

The full guidance is available and the Government will write to everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.

Other people you live with, who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, can still attend work if they cannot work from home, in line with the wider rules set out in the new national restrictions from 5 November.

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. 

[UPDATED 5 NOVEMBER] We have had to make some changes to our services on campus in line with the national lockdown regulations.

The Templeman Library on Canterbury campus is open 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 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 is open to staff and students.

Catering outlets are open however are temporarily providing takeaway service only. Eat-in arrangements have been made for students on Bed and Flex or Bed and Bistro contracts.

The Sports Centre is temporarily closed except to students studying an associated course. 

[UPDATED 5 NOVEMBER] The majority of our catering outlets are open at Canterbury, with the exception of K Bar, Street Kitchen and Create. Sibson Cafe is open for coffee, snacks and sandwiches. 

No.1 and the Galvanising Cafe at Medway are currently closed until the new year.

 All other units to remain open and offering a takeaway service. 

[UPDATED 5 NOVEMBER] In line with government guidelines and the national lockdown, 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.

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

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

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