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A joint letter from Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, and Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health, Liverpool City Council:
We are writing to let you know about an important change to teaching arrangements across the University. This change will see more classes being taught online as an additional measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our local community.
You will no doubt be aware that, over recent weeks, the number of cases of the virus in Liverpool and the surrounding area has increased significantly. This change is a result of more transmission of the virus among all age groups and in many different settings.
At the same time, we have been carefully monitoring cases among the University community on a daily basis, aided by the use of the University’s own testing facility on campus. This has identified a number of cases among the student population, along with a relatively small number among staff, consistent with the wider increase in case numbers across the city.
In this context we have held discussions, also involving neighbouring universities, to agree how we can all, working together, best support efforts to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 across the city.
What this means for you
We have today agreed that face-to-face teaching will, for the rest of this month, be limited to essential delivery for students in clinical, laboratory and other practice-based disciplines, and that required for professional accreditation. The campus is a safe place to be but, by further reducing face-to-face teaching, we will contribute to the city’s wider goal of reducing interaction between different household groups and help to reduce the spread of the virus.
The change will take place with immediate effect, initially until Friday 30 October. These arrangements will be reviewed on Friday 23 October, again on the basis of latest public health advice and further discussion with neighbouring universities, and we will communicate further with you at that time.
It has always been the University’s commitment to you, and to staff, that the response to the pandemic is guided first and foremost by the goal of helping you protect your overall wellbeing. The aim of delivering an element of face-to-face teaching to all students was driven by that goal, as the significant benefits of being able to meet your fellow students and academic staff in person are widely understood.
However, at this time it is clear that the University community needs to take new steps to help Liverpool combat the pandemic. We have not made this decision lightly and the intention is to reintroduce an element of face-to-face teaching for all students at the earliest opportunity, when COVID-19 cases in the city are under greater control.
We know that this means that some of you will, at least during October, be taught wholly online. Please be aware that the libraries and other facilities will still be open, with bookable spaces and arrangements in place to help keep you safe.
Making and keeping in touch with friends, and pursuing hobbies and other interests, are in some senses more important than ever at this time. The University is working with the Guild of Students to deliver a wide range of activities you can safely participate in beyond your academic programme and will be adding to this over the coming days, so please look out for opportunities that are of interest to you. If you may ever be in need of some extra help or advice, don’t forget the range of support services available to all students.
Please be aware that public health advice strongly encourages students to remain in their current accommodation and not to return to a family home or other location at this time. It is of course also essential that, if you are self-isolating, you continue to do so.
We are sending you this email to let you know about this decision as soon as possible and we are sending a similar message to all staff at the same time. Therefore please wait for staff in your School to have time to consider the implications of this decision. They will be in touch with you as soon as possible to explain how it affects your timetable. If you previously had an on-campus session in a lecture theatre or seminar room, the room details will no longer appear on your timetable and instead you will see a link to access the session remotely.
In the meantime, please continue to keep an eye on your emails and on the Safety on Campus web pages for further information.
Last and by no means least, may we take the opportunity to remind you of the need for the whole University community to continue to unite against the spread of COVID-19. We saw over the summer how, with everyone working together, the virus can be kept under control.
The three key steps we can take as individuals – wearing a face covering, regularly washing our hands, and maintaining a safe distance from anyone from another household – make an enormous difference. Please always follow this advice and adhere to the various local and national regulations. It will help Liverpool, and the University, return to a greater sense of normality as soon as possible.
What is changing?
In line with Public Health advice and in order to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, students and the wider community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face teaching will, for the rest of this month, be limited to essential delivery for students in clinical, laboratory and other practice-based disciplines, and that required for professional accreditation.
We are committed to taking all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of these changes and to ensure that you meet your learning outcomes. You will receive additional virtual teaching to replace planned face-to-face provision and you will be able to continue to access a range of our other services and facilities, although some will now be provided virtually.
How long will this change last?
The change will take place with immediate effect, and initially run until Friday 30 October. These arrangements will be reviewed on Friday 23 October, again on the basis of latest public health advice and further discussion with neighbouring universities, and we will communicate further with you at that time.
When will my timetable be updated to reflect these new arrangements?
Staff in your School will be in touch with you as soon as possible to explain how this affects your timetable. If you previously had an on-campus session in a lecture theatre or seminar room, the room details will no longer appear on your timetable. You will be able to view online sessions remotely via the Timetable Portal. Please note, the Timetable App will be updated week commencing 19 October.
I haven’t arrived at the University yet, should I stay at home?
The latest possible arrival dates for your course are based on when your essential face-to-face delivery is scheduled to begin. If your arrival date is this semester, that is because you are in clinical, laboratory or another practice-based disciplines, or you require face-to-face contact for professional accreditation. Essential face-to-face sessions will go ahead as planned and it is therefore important that you arrive in time for these planned sessions.
View the latest arrival dates here:
In view of reduced face-to-face teaching provision, will I receive a partial refund for my tuition fees?
We have invested significantly in a wide range of measures to keep you safe on campus and to ensure that you have the best possible experience this year. This has included investment in: a testing centre, app, contact tracing, enhanced cleaning and a range of other safety measures; staffing; student support; and IT, amongst other things.
We know this reduction in face-to-face teaching is disappointing but we have taken the decision in line with Public Health advice and in order to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, students and the wider community. It is important to stress that this is a temporary measure and we will reintroduce face-to-face teaching as soon as we are able to do so.
In the meantime, a number of things are in place to minimise, as far as possible, the impact of these changes on you and you can be confident that you will be fully supported to achieve your programme learning outcomes. You will receive additional virtual teaching to replace planned face-to-face provision and you will be able to continue to access a range of our other services and facilities, although some will now be provided virtually.
Therefore, the University is not offering any tuition fee refunds in this context.
If you remain dissatisfied you can make a complaint using the amended version of the Student Complaints Procedure which is designed to be used during periods of major disruption. The procedure which can be found here and as part of the complaint you can indicate the outcome you are seeking.
What are you doing to keep university halls of residence safe?
A range of safety measures are in place to protect students and staff living and working in halls. These include: measures to enable social distancing; enhanced cleaning regimes; automatic gates and doors; and self-isolation support. All University buildings are assessed and marked as COVID-secure and show that they adhere to national public health guidance.
Please also do your bit to keep yourself and others safe by wearing a face covering where needed, regularly washing your hands, and maintaining a safe distance from anyone from another household. If you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, please self-isolate and let your hall manager or the reception team know immediately so that we can provide the appropriate support. More information on what to do if you have symptoms is available here.
How are you supporting students who are self-isolating?
We know it is a challenging time for any student who needs to self-isolate and we have put a range of measures in place to support them.
This includes offering practical and emotional support and, where needed, support packs of food and essentials. We also provide those who are self-isolating with information about how to access our mental health, wellbeing and counselling services and will be providing details of a range of activities they can engage in whilst self-isolating.
If I am on a course which will not be offering face-to-face teaching can I move back home?
Public health advice strongly encourages students to remain in their current accommodation and not to return to a family home or other location at this time.
It is of course also essential that those who are self-isolating continue to do so.
If this advice changes in the future we will update this FAQ. If you need additional support, please contact our advice and guidance team.
Can I get a refund on my rent?
The decision to move the majority of our teaching online is a temporary measure in response to the situation in Merseyside, and will be reviewed on Friday 23 October.
In light of this, and delayed start to paying for accommodation this year to allow for phased entry into halls, we will not be issuing accommodation refunds at this time.
What wellbeing support is available?
The University’s Student Services is available and offers all students comprehensive support.
• Student Welfare Advice and Guidance• Counselling Service
• Mental Health Advisory Service
• Advice and Guidance
• Disability Advice and Guidance
• International Advice and Guidance
• Money Advice and Guidance.
The team will be providing support through video (Microsoft Teams or Zoom), phone and email between 9am and 5pm Monday – Friday.
You can contact the team for support.
We will also be offering a wide range of online events covering a wide range of topics including imposter syndrome, loneliness, safety planning and eating disorders. Please visit Student Services for more information.
You can access professional support online 24 hours a day through Togetherall which provides peer to peer and professional support. Click on the ‘I’m from a University or College’ button to create your account. You can also talk, or web chat, with Student Space from 4pm-11pm each day and they also provide a 24hr text support service
Is there any additional support to socialise and keep busy, particularly if I’m self-isolating?
Yes, a comprehensive programme of social activities has been organised by the Guild, Halls Life and others and we will be further adding to this programme shortly. We will share more details on this in the next few days.
Will I still be able to access the libraries?
Yes, bookable study spaces in both the Harold Cohen and Sydney Jones libraries will open, together with bookable study space in the Victoria Gallery and Museum, from 10am daily. Although it will not be possible to browse material and the Grove Wing of the Sydney Jones and the stacks in the Harold Cohen will be closed to users, borrowing books via Click and Collect will continue. All of our online resources such as databases, e-journals and e-texts will continue to be available 24 hours a day.
Face-to-face services will not be available for the moment but you will continue to be able to access support via our online enquiry service.
How will this affect the Sports Centre?
The Sports & Fitness Centre will remain open for general membership, including access to the gym, pool, indoor class programme and other ‘official’ outdoor training sessions. However, access may be limited in line with current national and local restrictions.
In relation to the Athletic Union student sports club programme this means:
• Indoor sports will not be permitted until further notice
• Outdoor sports can start as planned, in line with NGB guidance and government approved ‘return to play’ plans.
We are also exploring supplementary virtual sports sessions, and further details will be released as soon as possible.
Will I be able to get a discount on my membership at the Sports Centre to reflect the reduced capacity?
As facilities remain accessible, we will not be issuing discounts on membership at this time.
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