In line with all universities, we are starting to return to working and education, and want to offer reassurance that the health, safety and wellbeing of our whole community – students, staff, city residents and visitors – is uppermost in our minds.
In March, we closed the campus, moving to home working and online teaching and assessment with immediate effect, although some students have remained in residence throughout. We are looking forward to the imminent commencement of the new academic year and welcoming back our students, albeit with social distancing impacting how we engage with them – all will have some face-to-face learning, but taking a blended approach with online provision too.
The return of students will reignite the social, cultural and economic benefits they bring to our Ocean City, and for many businesses, and the array of community initiatives that our students support, we know their return will be welcomed.
We have been planning carefully for the re-opening with a stringent safety-first approach to ensure our campuses are ‘covid-secure’, including adapting our timetables to prevent crowding and to allow for additional cleaning, adjusting our buildings for social distancing arrangements, and redesigning our normal events for the start of term to operate virtually.
The University has worked closely with relevant local and national agencies spanning government, public health and emergency services to ensure its risk assessments and contingency measures are robust; with clear and concise plans linking to the Local Outbreak Management Plan should any cases arise in the City including working closely to support the track and trace system both nationally and locally.
Our University-managed accommodation has appropriate risk assessments and health and safety monitoring measures in place to protect all residents. This includes quarantine accommodation for our international students who are arriving and need to self-isolate.
Inevitably, students will be excited to start or return to their degree programmes after a period of social and academic abnormality. The University is engaging strongly with new and returning students on what they can expect from us and our expectations of them and their conduct.
We ask any member of the local community to report concerns through the official channels as appropriate – emergency services (police/fire service/ambulance) for serious or urgent matters; Plymouth City Council for matters like antisocial behaviour or litter – or the University via our new online contact form. We have close relationships with all the authorities and will work with them accordingly.
The University of Plymouth is proud of its heritage and location within the City and understands fully its civic role within the wider community. Covid-19 has and is testing the whole country to respond in ways not previously experienced. We are committed to the education of our students and we are following all government guidance to ensure that we are operating in the safest manner possible.
Professor Judith Petts CBE
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
Students’ Union President