2020 has been a year like no other. We have all had to adapt, learn new coping strategies and find ways to stay connected with family and colleagues. The same can be said for our students, many of whom have experienced financial and emotional hardship relating to the pandemic.
Returning safely to campus
As we approach the start of our new academic year, it is important to please remember we all have a part to play in keeping our campus safe. For those of you returning to campus, you’ll see lots of new signage reminding us all of the expected behaviours. These messages are important for staff, students and visitors alike as we all have a responsibility to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. The health, wellbeing and safety of our staff and students has been our main priority when making changes to our campus. It has been a long planning process and it is great to see some of our facilities and services now open. If you are on campus, most of our catering outlets are now open, or will be opening shortly, and are offering takeaway or socially distanced seating.
We have welcomed back many students already through a phased return to campus, before term starts on 21 September. Approximately 350 students are arriving back to the Canterbury campus each day and over 600 are now settled into our on-campus accommodation. Thank you to colleagues who have helped make this possible. By reducing the number of students joining us each day, we can keep within social distancing guidelines and keep campus operations running smoothly.
On-site Covid-19 testing facilities
The University has been working closely with the Directors of Public Health for Kent County Council and Medway Council to establish a local testing site (LTS) on both campuses. This is now in place in Canterbury at Rutherford carpark. The Medway LTS will be in place shortly.
The Canterbury LTS began operating on 5 September 2020 and is open between 8am and 8pm 7 days per week, excluding bank holidays.
This on-site testing service is open to staff, students and members of the public. All tests must be booked in advance online and no drop in appointments will be available. Each LTS is a self-contained unit, containing all its own power, water, storage and waste facilities. During opening hours there is a dedicated Site Lead. The LTS is also monitored by 24/7 security. Because each LTS is totally self-contained and externally managed, there is no need for individuals being tested or LTS staff to access any University buildings.
By working together and helping each other through this difficult time, we can create a positive and supportive culture. This is as important in the local community as it is on campus. We are working closely with local partners and residents’ associations on a joined-up approach to community safety. This includes producing a range of communications with our HE and FE equivalents, ensuring we promote a consistent message to all our students.
Understandably, some residents are concerned about the impact students could have on the spread of Covid-19. Ensuring that our students study, socialise and live safely is of paramount importance to us. Whether living on or off campus, we will treat student households the same way and students will be expected to abide by Government guidelines, including the latest changes in the law which come into effect from Monday.
We will ensure students understand the social distancing guidelines for gatherings of more than one household. This information is also being reinforced by our councils and other local partners.
We are creating a new Community page on our Coronavirus website which will be published shortly. Our Community Newsletter will also be available soon, telling residents all about the work we are doing to ensure students have a positive impact in the local area.