Today, the Government announced the new Tier structure that will come into force once the national lockdown ends on 2 December 2020. Canterbury and Medway have both been placed in Tier 3, the ‘Very High’ risk category. At this Tier, there are restrictions on households socialising and non-essential travel is not permitted. As previously, universities and other educational institutions are to remain open. We are currently awaiting DfE guidance about what this will mean for Kent, and will provide more information as soon as it is available.
Planning for Christmas vacation
As we approach the end of the Autumn term, I wanted to tell you about the important work taking place to support the students that will be staying with us over the Christmas vacation period. We estimate between 300 and 500 students will be remaining with us, staying on our two main campuses after term ends on 18 December 2020. This year, more than ever before, it is vital that we provide a safe, secure environment for our students which will allow them to enjoy a restful festive break. Staff from across the University are working in partnership with Kent Union and GKSU colleagues to provide a programme of events and online activities that these students can enjoy. The team will be distributing festive goodie bags for the students and are planning to decorate campus to bring some much-needed festive cheer. Students will be able to connect with each other, via dedicated social media channels, and the programme of events will be publicised through a new webpage. We hope this project will allow students to interact, share experiences and provide valuable support for each other during the winter vacation period. My thanks to all staff involved in this important work and for your commitment to supporting all our students.
As part of the Government’s national Covid-19 testing programme, we are now offering asymptomatic testing at both Canterbury and Medway. These tests are specifically for people without symptoms of Covid-19, ie they are asymptomatic. Bookings are now being taken for students with appointments beginning on 30 November 2020. Any member of staff wishing to book an appointment can do so from 30 November 2020. Please remember that if you do have Covid-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate and book a test through the NHS Coronavirus website.
After what has been challenging and unpredictable year, we are busy planning for Spring 2021 and how we can best meet the needs of our diverse student population. At this stage, we have yet to receive guidance relating to the return of students in January from the Department for Education. However, we do expect this shortly. It is likely that universities will be encouraged to invite students back to campus using a staggered arrivals approach. This could mean that for the first few weeks of the Spring term, all teaching is again delivered virtually. My sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to all staff involved in delivering teaching at our University; the changes imposed on us by the pandemic have been significant, and you have responded valiantly throughout.
It is vital that we continue to demonstrate to students that we are listening to their feedback, and evolving our approach in response, for the Spring term. We will be running a campaign to show students all the events and activities they can engage with in the New Year. We hope Schools will get involved in sharing best practice and celebrating the great work taking place across our University. There will be lots positive case-studies of how staff and students are adapting to get the most out of learning and teaching at this unpredictable time.
Thank you again to all University staff for your commitment and dedication to our students.
Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience