University Executive Board minutes - 17 November 2020



17 November 2020


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor J Derrick, Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Ms H Fraser-Krauss (HFK); Professor S Hartley (SH), Professor M J Hounslow (MJH), Ms J Jones (JJ), Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DP)Mr R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor M Vincent, Professor C Watkins (CW)

In attendance:

Mr I Wright (IW); Dr T Strike (TS); Mrs T Wray (TW)




Mr D T Swinn/Mr E Smith/Mr M Borland

  1. Closed Minute and Paper

  2. Closed Minute and Paper

  3. Closed Minute and Paper

  4. Coronavirus Update – Christmas Return

    • UEB noted preparations for a large-scale student testing facility to facilitate the staggered return home for students who were able to do so between 3-9 December, including discussions with the Sheffield Public Health team. Testing would be made available for all students, including PGRs. However, priority would be given to those who would be leaving the Sheffield region, informed by responses to a student questionnaire about their travel plans. Arrangements for the venue and equipment were progressing, including contracts with suppliers and resolution of related legal issues such as data protection and insurance, and recruitment and guidance for testing centre staff. With respect to legal issues, while the University was supporting the delivery of testing, the tests themselves and their administration was the responsibility of third parties. 
    • It was reported that Health & Safety were working to scale-up the University contact tracing system with a view to covering asymptomatic cases. A staff and student communications plans would commence as soon as practicable and would reflect the importance of adhering to the current local and national restrictions following a negative test, to minimise the risk of contracting Covid between testing and travelling home.
    • Clarification was provided that the government provision only covered testing, and associated costs, for a specified period. This raised implications for students who tested positive and could not travel home between 3-9 December and students who would still be receiving face to face delivery after 9 December, e.g. students on clinical placements and AMRC-TC.  The guidance on these points was unclear at best, and the University was also seeking establish whether USIC students were eligible for testing, although the fact that these were not University students and were under the age of eighteen posed additional challenges.
    • UEB discussed plans for students to return to university in January, noting that there was no guidance or information about that at present and no travel window had been announced. The majority of UG students, with the exception of many students in MDH, were not due to resume face to face learning until 7 February, after the assessment period – in which no in person invigilated examinations would be held. Subject to any post-Christmas travel window, and the extent of any flexibility over the period, it was likely that a number of students would wish to return to Sheffield before 7 February. Therefore, it would be important that students were able to access relevant facilities, e.g. the Library and study space, and that the University was able to offer the facility for Covid tests in line with any Government guidance or requirements.
    • With respect to wider planning for Semester 2, it was vital that departmental planning ensured that students received increased levels of face to face delivery.

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