Return to campus and recovery planning

A message from the Covid-19 Incident Management Group on the University's recovery planning, sent to all staff on Thursday 14 May 2020.

Dear colleague

Thank you once again for your flexibility during these challenging times. Everyone has been doing an incredible job working from home where possible, supporting our students, enabling the move to online teaching and assessment, and continuing essential research, campus services and business critical activity.

At this moment in time we ask that everyone who can work from home continues to do so, even as the government eases some of the lockdown restrictions.

We know that this will not be easy for everyone and we understand the challenges of caring responsibilities and remote working. We hope too that the advice and resources available on our web pages are proving to be helpful. If you do have any questions or feedback, please email coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk

As we outlined in our message on Monday, we have started to work through the practicalities around recovery planning, looking at how different groups of colleagues might safely return to work on campus at the appropriate times and in line with government guidelines.

For those who are unable to work from home, and in particular for some research and lab work that has been severely impacted by the pandemic, we are urgently looking at suitable approaches to allow a phased return.

A small group of staff at our Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) are returning to work from this week. This is part of a phased approach to reopening facilities and adheres to government guidelines for the manufacturing sector. A similar approach will be taken at our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). Thorough risk assessments are in place and this will help inform the approach we take elsewhere on campus.

We have also set up a new sub-group of the Covid-19 Incident Management Team to establish a framework for undertaking research activity safely and with due consideration to diversity and wellbeing.

In addition, Professors Sue Hartley, Vice-President for Research, and Dave Petley, Vice-President for Innovation, are developing a set of strategic organisational research priorities to inform in what order we should consider restarting such research. This prioritisation will then be applied at a faculty level to establish which specific research activity we should seek to restart and when.

We know that many of you are keen to return to your research, and where facilities and laboratories can open safely, we will enable a considered and phased approach to facilitate this.

All decisions we take around any return to working on campus will be guided by the following key principles:

  • All staff who are able to work from home should continue to do so.
  • The safety and wellbeing of our staff is paramount, and we will follow the government’s ‘Covid-19 secure’ guidelines to protect people and create a safe place to work.
  • We will seek to have as few people as possible on campus, while still operating safely.
  • We will be guided by our shared values of inclusivity, collegiality, fairness and compassion, taking into account childcare, other responsibilities and personal factors.
  • Any research activity restarting on campus will be compliant with the framework being developed.

For those colleagues who have been identified as critical workers and are continuing to work on site at this time, please ensure you follow the latest government guidelines on travel, avoiding public transport wherever possible.

We know that our University will be a different place after the lockdown, but we also know that you have all risen to the challenge and that we will work together and continue to succeed as a world-leading university.

Thanks to all of you for your flexibility, resilience and patience. These are challenging times and we are grateful for your continued support as we navigate the coming weeks and months.

We will continue to keep you updated about our recovery planning and any potential timeframes for a phased return to campus.

Please also note that Chief Financial Officer, Jo Jones, was due to provide an update on the University’s financial situation in the staff update today. This will now be sent out on Monday.

Best wishes

The Covid-19 Management Group