Return to campus/autumn term 2020

Professor Wyn Morgan shares the latest updates from the return to campus group, including further clarification on the University's position for attendance on campus in the autumn term and international travel.

Dear colleague,

Before I cover some specific updates, I would like to acknowledge and thank you all for your continued support and flexibility as we navigate this challenging situation. Colleagues across the organisation are working hard to develop plans, guidance and materials that will allow us to offer the best possible and safe experience for our students and staff in the autumn.

We understand that staff and students seek as much clarity as we can offer and, in addition to the regular email updates to staff and students, we have prepared the new autumn term web pages which bring together key information that you and your students may be interested in. We will continue to update these pages with the latest information, so please do check back regularly for further detail.

We have also developed a Return to Campus shared Google drive for staff. Within this you will find the latest versions of all key guidance documents, risk assessments, and an archive of staff updates. All staff have view only access to these materials, so please note that in order to edit or use any of the documents (such as the risk assessment), you will have to save your own copy.

Face-to-face teaching

Next semester our teaching will follow a blended learning model. The only exceptions are those few programmes that already run as distance learning. In all other cases, students will have face-to-face sessions alongside synchronous and asynchronous digital learning. There is no expectation that departments will routinely run two versions of the same programme.

The provision of face-to-face teaching is fundamental to our University’s mission and purpose and our aim since the start of lockdown has always been to return to some form of on-campus provision, as soon as safely possible. The on-campus provision allows us to provide the best possible student experience in the circumstances while balancing concerns around student and staff safety, and provides the most attractive proposition possible to prospective students. We recognise that staff and students will have concerns over safety, but we would like to reassure you that your health and safety is of paramount importance and that safety measures are in place.

The blended learning on offer in Sheffield next semester means that students should have a bona fide intention to travel to Sheffield, as only by attending on campus will they be able to benefit from the full University of Sheffield student experience. However, the uncertainties created by the pandemic mean that this may not be possible in all cases, particularly for international students. Where this is the case, students will be able to register online and access digital learning (including synchronous sessions) remotely until such time as they are able to travel to Sheffield. Further information has been sent directly to Departmental Directors of Learning and Teaching on this, and please raise any concerns you may have with them.

Attendance on campus

Over the past few weeks we have seen the safe return of more research staff to the main University campus and, as planning for the autumn term continues, we are looking forward to welcoming more of you back. As part of our health and safety measures, it is important that we continue to limit the number of people on campus and the advice remains that those who can work from home should continue to do so.

We appreciate that in the same way that returning to campus causes concern for some staff, others are anxious about the prolonged remote working and we would like to reassure you that we are taking these concerns seriously. I am grateful that, as an organisation, we have been able to adapt how we work with incredible agility and it is now important that we use this as an opportunity to reflect on what works for us - as individuals, as teams and as an organisation.

Your thoughts

We would appreciate it if you could continue to share your thoughts and insights through the current staff survey. It only takes five minutes to complete and will offer us valuable insights for our future planning. We will share more on this with you in the coming weeks.

Sport Sheffield

We are delighted to say Sport Sheffield now has reopened to customers for the first time since lockdown began in March. For the first two weeks it will be operating with limited opening hours and a phased opening of the facilities will take place over the next few weeks. The gym is now open to all current fitness members, from 10 August the pool and synthetic turf pitches will reopen and from 17 August fitness class timetable will be reintroduced. You can find out more and watch a video about the measures in place to ensure the safety of the users on the Sport Sheffield website.

International travel guidance

As part of the easing of some restrictions the UK government has recently issued new guidance via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which enables some international travel to commence. The latest advice is here.

In response to this, we have prepared revised guidance for staff and research students with regards to international travel. The guidance takes into account the current non-essential spending restrictions, the positive impact on carbon emissions from reduced levels of flying, and provides guidance about the circumstances in which international travel may be permitted.

If you have any questions that you would like us to address in a future update, please email them to internalcommunications@sheffield.ac.uk and we will endeavour to answer those in future updates.

With best wishes,

Professor Wyn Morgan
Vice-President for Education