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COVID-19 (coronavirus): information and guidance

Page last updated: 18 June 11:00

Our campuses will be open in Septemberread our statement from Professor Mark E. Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor. 

As a university, the wellbeing of our staff and students is always our most important consideration, and never more so than in situations like this.

All colleagues who do not have an essential reason to be on campuses (approved by your Dean or Executive Director) must now work from home. Only a Dean or a Professional Services Director can assign ‘essential’ status to staff. We’ll give all staff with this status a named permit to show they have permission to be on site.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Please note: new questions and answers will continue to be added to this list, as required.

Services

All students who do not have an essential reason to be on campuses should now stay at home. This will reduce the chances of catching and spreading the coronavirus.

The following services are providing remote support:

Accommodation: Our halls of residence remain open, including for September arrivals. See our guidance on accommodation.

Advice Centre: The SUSU Advice Centre will continue to operate remotely and students can phone or email as usual for support. Contact details can be found here.

Arts Venues: In line with advice from Public Health England, John Hansard Gallery, Turner Sims and Nuffield Southampton Theatre will be closed until further notice. As a result, upcoming events will be postponed or cancelled.  For further details please visit their respective websites or social media.

Careers: Contact careers@soton.ac.uk for advice. Or find guidance about our Work Experience Programmes.

The Design and Print Centre: Production facilities are open again. The Centre is the default supplier of hard-wearing floor markings, signage and other products for buildings that are preparing to re-open. You can contact the team by emailing: print@soton.ac.uk

Early Years Centre: The Early Years Centre (EYC) has remained open to children of key workers since Monday 23 March. From Monday 1 June, in line with government advice the Early Years Centre is welcoming back an increased number of children. If your child has a place at the EYC you will have been contacted about this. If you do not have a place, and would like to know more, please visit the following webpage.

Enabling Services: Contact them at enable@soton.ac.uk.

Employee Relations: Get in touch through Microsoft Teams. For new queries, use the Ask HR page.

Faith & Reflection Centre: contact the team for help and support. Note that prayer gatherings are suspended.

HR: Ask HR will continue to operate remotely and staff can phone, email or raise a ticket as usual for support. Find out more on our Ask HR page.

HR Transactions: Tickets to request changes can be raised as usual via the ServiceNow Portal.

Institute for Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR): Please see the service’s dedicated webpage.

iSolutions Stores: Orders for small items can be shipped direct to staff addresses. Large items like new laptops will go to a drop off point (to be confirmed) for collection.

Library services: Access our digital services - note that we'll renew borrowed items automatically until further notice.

Recruitment team: Individual team members can be contacted on their University extension number.

Service Line: Available as usual with new operating hours of 09:00 to 17:00, Monday - Friday.

Student Life: get in touch at studentlife@soton.ac.uk or by calling 023 8059 8180.

Sport and Wellbeing: Join the new SUSU Facebook group for tips and support. Find out about our virtual fitness and wellbeing site at DoesYouGood. You can also sign up for a class through Facebook Live.

Student Offices: Students should e-mail their enquiries to ssc@soton.ac.uk.

Student Services Centre (SSC): Enquiries should be emailed to: ssc@soton.ac.uk

Students’ Union: All Students’ Union facilities in B40 and B42, as well as the SUSU Shop, are closed until further notice.

SUSU: See the SUSU's FAQs page.

Unilink buses: If you are an essential worker or need to make an essential journey please be aware of the reduced UniLink Bus service.

VISAs: The VISAs team will continue to advise students remotely. Send enquiries to visa@soton.ac.uk. For more information, please visit the website

Health

[Q] How will you ensure my safety when I return to campus?

We will continue to be governed in our decision making in this area by focusing on ensuring the safety and well-being of our staff and students. We don’t yet have all of the answers but we are undertaking a thorough review of our facilities so we can put in all measures possible to look after your safety.

We have commissioned an executive level group focused on reviewing the physical aspects of building operations, room configuration, patterns of work, travel arrangements and more. We will have full risk assessments in place for each building and we will refresh our risk assessment and other health and safety advice in light of government advice. We will ensure all health and safety and compliance checks have been undertaken before re opening our campus. 

If still necessary we will ensure strict social distancing measures and will further enhance our hygiene and cleaning arrangements. We will increase the availability of hand sanitisation and will remind our employees and students to stay at home if they are symptomatic of COVID-19.

We will ensure out communications channels are kept up to date with relevant guidance so  our staff and students can be reassured of the mechanisms we are putting in place to support a safe return to campus. 

[Q] How are students being looked after?

The University is working with Public Health England to ensure we have the latest advice. A task force has been established that is focusing on the student experience and colleagues in Student Life are leading on local support of students who may be affected. 

Student Life is available to all students to contact 24/7 via studentlife@soton.ac.uk. If the enquiry is urgent students will receive a call back from a member of the team.

The Student Life team are planning lots of online events such as cooking classes, quizzes and book clubs. Sign-up now for on-going updates via their Facebook Live.

Students can keep in touch with family and friends over the phone and on social media. There are also external sources of support and information that can help, such as Every Mind Matters.

[Q] How are staff being looked after?

The University has instructed that all colleagues who do not have an essential reason to be on campuses (approved by your Dean or Executive Director) must now work from home. The category of 'essential' can only be designated directly by a Dean or a Professional Services Director. Named permits will be provided to those designated staff in case they are asked to provide formal evidence that they are considered essential.

If staff have any concerns about their health or wellbeing they should contact the University’s confidential, dedicated staff helpline on Tel. +44 (0)23 8059 9000 (open Monday – Friday, 08:00 – 17:00 until further notice) / or NHS 111.

Mind has provided some useful information to help you cope if you are worried about coronavirus and how it could affect your life.

[Q] I work as a doctor, nurse, midwife or Health Care Professional (HCP) for both the University and the NHS or primary care, both organisations are providing advice on COVID-19, which advice should I follow?

Academic clinical staff/research nurses/midwives/HCPs who have joint contracts with the NHS (primary care, secondary care, PHE) should refer to the NHS guidance in relation to work activities, control and containment measures from their host organisation.

[Q] What health and safety guidance is in place for home-working?

A one stop shop for all things Health & Safety is available here, this includes guidance on setting up workstations at home, support for vulnerable adults and the risk assessment template. 

Students

For the latest information on assessments, awarding and progression please visit our current students page.

All students who do not have an essential reason to be on campuses should now stay at home. This will reduce the chances of contagion and allow staff with essential roles to work in a safer environment.

All teaching and academic support for the remainder of this academic year will be delivered online. There will be no teaching activity for the remainder of this academic year that will require you to be on campus.

Staff

Find answers to a range of COVID-19 work and employment related queries on HR's dedicated webpage.

Research

The Public Policy unit has set up a dedicated website featuring the latest news and research opportunities related to COVID-19 and supporting UoS academics in sharing their knowledge and expertise whenever there is a request from policymakers. For more information you can visit the webpage here.

[Q] I am a researcher whose clinical/non-clinical studies involve human participants. Where can I find specific advice?

Guidance for research involving human participants can be found here. (University login required)

[Q] I am the supervisor of a research postgraduate student. Where can I find relevant advice?

Guidance for Supervisors and Research Students can be found on the University’s Doctoral College webpages.

[Q] What is the UK Higher Education funding bodies’ current position in relation to contingency planning for COVID-19 for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021?

Research England has postponed the REF submission, originally scheduled for 27 November 2020, and will announce a new submission date no later than eight months prior to the deadline. In response, we have made some adjustments to the University’s submission timetable including relaxing the dates for completing the current Outputs benchmarking exercise, and for finalising the Impact Case Studies and Environment Statements.

These changes will provide some respite to colleagues adjusting to new ways of working while maintaining the strong momentum we have developed so far. The timetable will of course be kept under review in response to feedback from Faculties and further announcements from Research England. More details are available here.  

[Q] What is the impact of the pandemic on existing research grants and future applications?

Research and Innovation Services (RIS) has gathered together the latest announcements on how measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19 will be affecting projects, calls and evaluations funded by our key research funders. More details can be found here. (University login required)

[Q] When will laboratories reopen?

The partial re-opening of laboratories has been approved and the University has now published principles and guidance for the partial re-opening of laboratories for research and enterprise activities (University login required). Laboratory staff and their management will now work closely together to prepare plans for the safe partial re-opening of some labs.

Travel

[Q] How is the University ensuring that staff and students are receiving the necessary support?

The VISAS team have created a new information webpage to provide students studying in the UK on a visa with specific advice during this situation. If you require further support, please contact Student Life.

If you are a member of staff, please notify your line manager and report your absence to the University. You can inform the University either by calling the dedicated Absence Reporting hotline on Tel. +44 (0)23 8059 7111 (open Monday – Friday, 08:00 – 17:00) or, alternatively, you can report your absence online via our Absence Reporting Form. In either instance, you will need to provide your staff ID number, which you can find on your University ID card.

For further clarity on reporting staff absences, please refer to HR’s Absence Summary document.

[Q] I travelled to the UK on a visa which is expiring soon and I'm unable to return due to travel restrictions relating to COVID-19 (coronavirus). What should I do?

If you are in the UK on a visa that will expire between 24 January - 31 July 2020 and cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19), you must now contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team at the Home Office to update your records and provide the information stated on the GOV.UK website.

International students, please ensure that you are remaining compliant with the conditions of your visa, see our specific Visa webpage.

[Q] I travelled to an affected country on University business but due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions I now need to change my plans. Will University insurance cover me?

University insurance should cover you if you travelled for University business. Please contact the insure@soton.ac.uk.

[Q] Can I travel internationally on University business?

As of 13 March 2020, there will be no international staff travel on University business, unless demonstrated to be essential and an approved risk assessment is in place.

In line with our usual internal approval processes, all travel will have to be referred to the VC’s Office, via the Insurance Office, for approval before travel can take place or insurance cover confirmed.

A detailed risk assessment and explanation for the purpose of the trip must be submitted to insure@soton.ac.uk at least three working days before the trip is due to take place. This process will remain in place until the FCO advice is amended.

Anyone making an unauthorised international trip will not be insured under the University’s Travel & Personal Accident policy.

[Q] The airline I booked with for future travel on University business is offering me the option of a voucher or a refund. What should I do?

If you booked your travel through the University’s travel management provider – Clarity – please do not take any action directly with the airline. Instead, please forward the airline’s email to Clarity with details of what action you wish to take. Clarity will then action this on your behalf. Please use your usual contact details at Clarity or accountmanagers@claritybt.com.

[Q] What do I do if, as part of my course, I was planning to travel to another country?

The University will not require you to do any travel that conflicts with FCO advice. Please discuss your options with your supervisor.

Events

The University is keeping all planned events, including Open Days, under constant review and all campus-based conferences have been cancelled.

[Q] I had a field trip planned as part of one of my modules. Will I still be able to deliver this?

All international and UK field trips are currently postponed for an indefinite period. The University will keep you informed of any rescheduled/rearranged trips as and when it is possible to do so.

[Q] I have planned (or am planning) to host external visitors at the University, can this still go ahead?

No. Given the extraordinary circumstances regarding COVID-19, you should consider arranging a Teams call or exploring a similar internet-based solution.

[Q] Are events still taking place at Turner Sims, the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, the John Hansard Gallery and City Eye?

In line with advice from Public Health England, John Hansard Gallery, Turner Sims and Nuffield Southampton Theatres will be closed until further notice.

As a result, upcoming events will be postponed or cancelled. For further details please visit their respective websites or social media.

University building status

On 9 June 2020, the University’s Chief Operating Officer (Interim) provided an update on the partial re-opening of non-laboratory spaces. Further details can be found here.

All University buildings are closed, unless listed below.

Open = only essential staff with suitable security access to that building will gain entry.

Partial Access = only designated areas will be accessible by essential staff with suitable security access.

1 GUILDHALL SQUARE  

Partial Access – iSolutions and HR

AVENUE

65       Partial Access

65A     Partial Access – Archaeology materials

BASSETT HOUSE             

Partial Access

BOLDREWOOD

178        Partial Access – contractors

185        Partial Access – contractors

HIGHFIELD

4            Partial Access – Deanery

5            Partial Access – R&D

13          Partial Access – R&D

19          Open – Cochlear Implant Centre in emergencies

20          Partial Access – HV

27          Partial Access – Equipment Maintenance

29          Partial Access – Research

30          Open – Research

32          Open – Security

33          Open – Estates

35          Open – Estates

37          Open – Command centre

44          Partial Access - Research

46          Partial Access – Research

53          Partial Access – Equipment Maintenance

59          Partial Access – Deanery

67          Partial Access – Simulation suites for emergency NHS training

85          Open – Restricted Research

SOUTHAMPTON GENERAL HOSPITAL

Partial Access - please be aware of changes to access for all visitors to the Hospital.

WSA

63F        Partial Access

63G       Partial Access

Volunteering opportunities

The overarching principle is that the University should do everything it can to support the national and regional response to the COVID-19 crisis. Some staff may already be helping, or expressing an interest in being involved. Three broad strands of volunteering opportunities are emerging:

  • University: We may need volunteers to help supplement front-line Estates and Facilities and Student Services staff if there are significant absences through self-isolation and illness. More details on how to volunteer your services to the University will follow should this become necessary.
  • NHS: University staff who are also NHS clinicians who want to dedicate more time to their NHS role and also colleagues who wish to respond to the national appeal for NHS volunteer responders.
  • Community: The Government is actively encouraging community volunteer support for vulnerable people required to stay in their homes, and a myriad of local and community groups are springing up. This is a particular area of interest for many university staff. We have developed three volunteering principles to help you discuss this with your line manager. These and further information can be found here.

The Health Secretary also launched a campaign to recruit NHS volunteers to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see further details including how to volunteer at Your NHS Needs You.

[Q] I’d like to volunteer for NHS Volunteer Responders or a local charity/volunteer group. Can I do this?

The University supports and encourages employees actively to volunteer for community or NHS based roles during the Covid-19 outbreak, as part of their own free time. Please be mindful of your own health and safety.

[Q] Can I volunteer in work time?

The University supports any employee who wishes to volunteer for community or NHS based roles as part of their paid working day, providing they agree this first with their line manager.

Staff who have been identified as essential workers are needed to support the University so unfortunately are unable to volunteer in work hours.

[Q] I have clinical expertise, can I offer my services to the NHS?

The University supports and encourages those such as clinical academics who already work closely with the NHS to continue to do so and expand their involvement where considered necessary.

Please inform your line manager and agree how to proceed.

[Q] Can I offer my technical services to the NHS as a non-clinician?

Please inform your line manager and agree how to proceed.

[Q] Can I volunteer as an academic with expert knowledge?

Please inform your line manager and agree how to proceed.

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