Published: August 13, 2021
The CSMT has been assessing carefully developments on Covid guidance over recent weeks, in particular the confirmation this Monday (9 August) from Scottish Government that with immediate effect Scotland has moved into the ‘Beyond Level 0’ phase of managing the pandemic.
This is a positive new chapter for all of us individually, including the RCS Community. However, it is certainly not a return to a pre-Covid way of life for any of us just yet. Across all environments including our own, there will still be an on-going need for safety measures and protocols, as well as careful consideration for the well-being of others. While more information will follow in further communications about important issues such as vaccination opportunities for students and details from your own departments, I thought it helpful to offer a general overview of the way ahead for RCS.
What Will Happen Next?
The transition to a ‘Beyond Level 0’ environment will not be immediate at RCS. We want to work carefully and consistently and with the support and guidance of specialists internally and externally, to ensure the steps we make are in-line with other parts of the education sector in Scotland and, vitally, that we continue to prioritise the safety and well-being of all our students and staff.
That means that, for the remainder of T4 and through all RCS operations until Sunday 26 September (inclusive), current protocols and current learning, teaching and working arrangements will remain in place.
Any changes to planned HE activity in T4, will be dealt with on a risk-assessed departmental/School level. At pre-HE level, Junior Conservatoire, pre-Juniors and Short Courses, will be able to resume some in-person activity from the start of their new term.
What is Changing at RCS from Monday 27 September?
From Monday, 27 September, there will be some general changes at RCS.
These will include:
- The removal of the one-way system in both campus buildings
- The end of mandatory one-metre social distancing across every area of RCS
That doesn’t mean that from this point there will be no social distancing at all. The removal of mandatory institutional requirements around factors such as social distancing, as one example, enables us to start working carefully and contextually at programme, departmental and, where appropriate, individual level to assess risk and agree safe practice.
This detailed micro planning of how different areas and groups will operate in this new phase of Covid management is being devolved to department level, with the support of the Health and Safety team. The leadership teams in each area of conservatoire operations are now best placed to work with their colleagues to contextualise their operations while working safely and following best practice and base sector and public health guidance.
This may mean that different programmes and departments have slight differences in their operating protocols due to guidance and risk factors that may be specific to them, for example the Junior Conservatoire teams working with young people; safe practice specific to brass, woodwind, vocal etc.
Professional Services Staff
As discussed previously, Term 1 of the new academic year has been identified as a time and opportunity for RCS professional services teams (many of whom have been working remotely since the start of the pandemic) to explore the best way forward in terms of ways of working to support the needs of the conservatoire.
For Term 1, professional services teams will continue to work from home predominantly, however we will be facilitating opportunities for teams to come together in person to experience being on campus, spend time with colleagues socially, and discuss how they might use the experiences of the last 18 months to inform future working practices. HR and Health Safety colleagues are on hand to offer support with this.
What is NOT Changing:
As well as highlighting what may be changing, it feels important also to state what is not. Please be assured that whatever changes take place on 27 September, that the safety and well-being of students and staff will remain paramount. Across all conservatoire operations and until further notice, the following safety protocols and measures will remain in place:
- Wear face covering in public areas of RCS
- Additional cleaning/sanitising regimes
- A focus on good ventilation
- Numbers caps on both campus buildings, based on in-room activity assessments, cleaning, ventilation etc
- No public access
- Building access for pre-agreed activity
- TAP/swipe entry/exit systems
- Defined Entrance (ground floor) and Exit (via main steps) routes from Renfrew Street
- Continued remote working for professional services as appropriate
Importance of Well-being
We recognise the primary importance of the well-being of all students and staff. For more information on the counselling and support services available for students please visit our website, and for staff, visit the staff portal.
The Welcome Home and Home from Home support networks for new and returning students will also be active and there to offer a warm welcome back and practical support services to new and returning students. A questionnaire has been issued to students and more details will follow soon.
We recognise too, that some staff colleagues have been finding working from home challenging due to their own personal circumstances. I’d encourage any colleagues in this situation to contact the HR team who, along with their manager, can assess their particular situation and whether an element of on-campus working can be facilitated.
Staying Covid Safe
For everyone in Scotland, we are now in a new stage of living with Covid and there are general guidelines for staying safe.
- Getting the vaccine when you are offered it (further information will be circulated on the support available to students to access first or second vaccines)
- Wearing a face covering, clean hands and surfaces regularly
- Self-isolating and taking a PCR test if you have symptoms
- Taking regular tests if you don’t have symptoms to reduce the risk of spreading the virus (Scottish Government recommends twice weekly LFD tests for students, test kits available from a number of sources including local pharmacies or by contacting here.)
- Meeting outside if you can,
- Keeping your distance from people not in your group
- Using the Protect Scotland and Check-in Scotland apps