I want to welcome you to your studies and update you on the ways in which DMU has been working hard throughout the summer to plan for your arrival or return. I know you will have particular concerns, especially given the news reports we have all seen recently. I want to reassure you about our preparations and the contingency plans that we have put in place to allow us to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and evolving guidelines and requirements.
Health and Safety measures at DMU
We are aware that some of you are anxious about coming back to campus for face-to-face teaching. As we’ve always said, your safety is of paramount importance. We will continue to closely follow and implement UK Government, Public Health England (PHE) and local authority guidelines, going beyond those guidelines where we think we can and should do more. For example, we are issuing each of you with two re-usable face coverings, and requiring them to be worn in all teaching spaces. These can be collected from four separate locations around campus. All you need to do is head to dedicated stands either today or on the dates below and show your student ID:
The stands can be found at the following campus locations:
Hugh Aston The Yard breakout space
Hawthorn lower ground floor student break out area
Campus Centre Building (near Coffee Hut)
We are also requiring them to be worn inside buildings as staff and students move around. Wearing these face coverings is expected unless you have a medical or personal reason not to, and we ask that in this circumstance you signal your exemption by wearing the yellow sunflower lanyard (and/or business card), which you can obtain by making an appointment via MyGateway.
Our colleagues in Estates have worked incredibly hard to ensure that each building is as safe as possible - there are more than 300 hand sanitisers installed across campus, clear signage for washing facilities, social distancing, and one-way systems, and 15 new day time cleaners recruited to support an enhanced programme of cleaning (more extensive information on staff health and safety measures is available). Please also take time to watch this Health and Safety induction video so you can stay safe when visiting campus.
In addition, DMU Safe Trace has been launched which will allow us to understand our movements on campus in the case of an outbreak. This will work alongside the NHS COVID app, which is in use for community spaces. We need you to use these QR codes to enable us to keep each other safe. We also have a webform (dmu.ac.uk/safetracenotify) for anyone in our university community to confirm to us if they have tested positive. This is vital to ensuring we are able to respond quickly and effectively to any local outbreaks.
‘Your DMU Safety’ webpages have also been launched which serve as a one-stop-shop for our entire DMU community to find information relating to campus safety, including our ‘Shared Commitment’, face coverings guidance, how to access tests, how to report symptoms and much more. It’s worth reiterating the NHS guidance that if you are suffering COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate at home and book a test. We’ve also launched a Good Neighbour guide in conjunction with De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU) so you can play a positive role in the local community given current restrictions on social activity.
Academic staff have thought carefully about the balance of on-campus and online teaching, programme by programme, keeping these health and safety priorities in mind, but also considering how to make your learning the best it can be within COVID-19 constraints. Our face-to-face teaching timetable for the Autumn term is at about 20% of normal, with the vast majority of on-campus teaching being in practical and applied subjects. Nonetheless, we have tried to give you some on-campus teaching regularly throughout the term, because we know that the social and interactive element of learning contributes to your attainment.
Your tutors have also been thinking deeply about online teaching methods, and preparing to make this teaching effective and engaging.
Some of you may have on-campus and on-line teaching timetabled very close together on the same day. We will be publishing a map of spaces on campus where you can go to access your online learning using your own device, and this will be supplemented by Faculty information. There are also computer labs available.
Planning for further developments
As you would expect, we have also been making contingency plans for the possibility of a need to switch to online-only teaching and learning should an increase in infections or instances of lockdown (whether building-based or community-based) necessitate this. Your tutors are working hard to plan and prepare so that, should we find ourselves in this situation, you will receive the teaching you are entitled to, to allow you to achieve your learning objectives (albeit in some cases syllabi might require adjusting).
Our campus community is a supportive and caring one. Now more than ever we need to look after each other.
Our double aim is to maintain the health and safety of our community, and make your learning experience as good as it can be within COVID-19 constraints. I am grateful to you for abiding by our DMU ‘Shared Commitment’ as well as the laws and requirements we are all subject to.
Professor Andy Collop
Posted on Friday 2nd October 2020