Covid updates 6/1/21

Dear students and colleagues

I hope this finds you well.

I wanted to update you further on our approach to learning and teaching at RCS over the next few weeks. 

Firstly I wanted to reassure you that the limited in-person activity that is planned to take place on the RCS campus over the coming weeks is being delivered with the full support and knowledge of our Scottish Government and public health colleagues. 

All current activity is being delivered carefully, safely and under enhanced risk assessment conditions. In common with other Higher Education Institutions across Scotland, we are working to an agreed plan of restricted blended learning, with any limited in-person teaching activity which is deemed essential taking place in a safety-assessed environment. 

I am grateful to our Covid leads (Lois Fitch and Alan Smith) who liaise daily with government, public health and HE colleagues and to RCS’s Health, Safety and Well-being teams for the detailed preparatory and monitoring work they have done – and continue to do – on our behalf. RCS has been operating within a Level 4 environment for some months now and in response to the current situation we have further reduced daily footfall on campus and continue to review and enhance our risk assessment protocols wherever required. 

To date we have had no reported cases of Covid transmitted on the RCS campus. This is of great credit to the consideration for safety and guidelines everyone across the community continues to demonstrate. It is also a positive demonstration of the effectiveness of that detailed plans for safe campus working which are in place. I ask you all to continue to follow fully all public and RCS guidelines and to continue playing your part in keeping us safe.

As you would expect and with the safety of students and staff our primary priority, we will be keeping all in-person activity planned over the coming weeks under regular review, which means some activity may be subject to change at short notice. 

As you will appreciate, in the current operating environment we are keeping all activity under constant review and therefore it may be subject to change at short notice. Programme teams will keep you informed and I would encourage you all to keep a regular watch on your RCS emails for any updates that may impact on you. 

There are a few other specific points to which I would draw your attention:

  • Travel 

Under the latest travel guidelines issued earlier this week by Scottish Government student and staff travel for ‘educational purposes’ is permitted, making travel to RCS from across Scotland and to Scotland to attend RCS allowable. 

Further details of this guidance are available here: https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.scot%2Fpublications%2Fcoronavirus-covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance%2F&data=04%7C01%7CJ.Harkess%40rcs.ac.uk%7C57a64fcfab15421d6a9908d8b19555c1%7C09ab91a8e6d64fba98da63eac7ab3ce2%7C0%7C0%7C637454602237114648%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=LsJyVtaZq1bYxSxcXUCq%2BfS4AYA16C42pV4gnph2La4%3D&reserved=0

  • Essential Worker status

Currently in Scotland HE staff are not included in the category ‘Essential Workers’ as they are currently in England. Along with colleagues in Universities Scotland we are making the case to Scottish Government that this should change. We will advise you as soon as possible if this does change.

  • School and nursery closures

As I said in my note of Tuesday, we recognise the potentially significant impact this and other elements of the current restrictions may be having on individuals in our community. Any students with concerns should notify their Programme Leader, while any staff impacted should discuss their concerns with their line manager and take guidance from Human Resources on their individual circumstances.

  • Covid Testing

A free two-stage Covid testing service is available now to all RCS students at is taking place as it did last term at the GCU campus. This testing is for asymptomatic students and is being provided as part of the Scottish Government’s agreed programme with HEIs to facilitate the return of students, in a limited way, to on-campus activity including in-person learning.

We would encourage students to take up this opportunity of additional reassurance for themselves and for the RCS community. 

Appointments are bookable via this link:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/post-christmas-student-test-site-book-your-appointments-here-tickets-132510178511?fbclid=IwAR3T12n2RivGHOyDcbwUCRZ6btEcAb5x_vyJ0iwLoJQ7rDjQcC4T8mXP3-k

We are also exploring the possibility of Covid testing for staff and will update you with any news on this as soon as we have it.

This is an extremely challenging and changing operating environment for all of us and one in which here at RCS we continue to proceed with great care. Any student with concerns about their personal circumstances or health should contact their programme head and any member of staff with concerns should contact their line manager and take guidance from Human Resources. 

In all cases we will do our best to accommodate concerns and, where possible, support alternatives which allow our student community to continue their learning.

I will continue to keep you updated as we progress.     

Best wishes,

Jeff

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