Information for staff and students about the student census and what the University is doing to protect ongoing research during the red phase.

Dear colleagues,

The University has moved more of its functions online, and the majority of our buildings are now closed for health and safety reasons, so many of us are now working from home. Once again, I am hugely grateful to all of you for helping to make this transition easier. I am especially grateful to staff in key roles who, because of their specific skills or technical expertise, are required to go into places of work to keep core University business up-and-running.

Students:

The University and the Colleges are committed to supporting all our students through the uncertain days ahead. Just as members of staff are adjusting to new realities and working practices, so too will students – undergraduate and postgraduate – need to adapt to very different circumstances.

We are working hard, and in close consultation with student representatives, to find the best way of supporting students’ education and wellbeing throughout this period. Students’ circumstances will vary significantly. So I ask all students that have not already done so to complete the census being circulated by Senior Tutors. Knowing where students are, or what their particular needs might be, will be essential to understanding how best to support you.

We have received plans for alternative forms of assessment from all Faculties and Departments. We are reviewing them, and will be communicating our plans to all students by 31 March. We will continue to update the FAQ page for students on our Coronavirus webpage.

Tackling COVID-19:

A Covid Gold Team, involving the senior leadership across the Collegiate University with responsibility for managing our response, has been meeting every weekday. This group is supported by six task forces, considering students, staff, finances, buildings, communications and recovery. In line with recommended practice, today’s meeting was held remotely, with all members connecting via online conferencing.

Staff across the Schools of Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine have been working tirelessly to ensure that vital biological samples are secured safely during the red phase of the University’s response to the pandemic, and to support groups that are carrying out research directly related to COVID-19. Colleagues are working with Cambridge University Hospitals and Public Health England to develop and evaluate point-of-care testing, which we hope will contribute significantly to the national effort to control the pandemic.

There have been countless offers of support for local and national health services over the past few days. At a time when our local hospitals are under intense pressure, it is especially important that we coordinate our efforts, so that our attempts to support the health services do not become a burden. We have set up a dedicated email address to receive and collate such offers. Please send any suggestions to covid-response@cam.ac.uk.

The scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health staff has been flagged up as a serious national issue. Colleagues across the University have rallied to find spare PPE. Homerton College has very helpfully offered to be the point of delivery for all PPE donations. Please be sure to contact covid-response@cam.ac.uk before making any donations of PPE. Suitable arrangements will be made to collect supplies and deliver them to our hospitals.

I hope you are all well.

With best wishes,

Stephen

Prof Stephen J Toope

Vice-Chancellor