Joint statement from the Vice-Chancellors of local universities and the Director of Public Health for Liverpool

A Joint statement from Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool; Professor Ian Campbell, Vice-Chancellor, Liverpool John Moores University; Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice Chancellor & Rector, Liverpool Hope University; and Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health, Liverpool City Council, regarding plans for continuing vital teaching and research during the national lockdown:

The safety and wellbeing of students, staff and the wider community in Liverpool are at the heart of plans made by the city’s universities for continuing vital teaching and research during the national lockdown.

The majority of students at all three universities will be staying at home and learning remotely until at least mid-February, in line with the Government’s latest guidance issued earlier this week.

However, some students will continue to be on campus or on local placements, including in hospitals, as we continue to teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers and other professions prioritised by the Government in tackling the pandemic. Many of these students are already involved in delivering front line services that help to protect and support our wider community at this difficult time, while many of our researchers are contributing locally, nationally and globally to the battle against COVID-19.

The universities have been working for many months with Liverpool City Council, the NHS and other local partners to minimise the risk of infection among students and staff, and to ensure a rapid and robust response where infections are identified. This includes arrangements for all staff and students who are in the city to access regular asymptomatic testing. The universities are also reviewing and redoubling their efforts to prevent the spread of the infection in light of the recent upward trend in case numbers in the city and nationally, and the emergence of the new, more transmissible variant.

Of course, maintaining a safe environment also depends on each of us taking personal responsibility for our wellbeing and that of those around us. Last autumn the universities asked all students to commit to a pledge, highlighting the unique situation we are in as a society and how they can help to minimise the impact of COVID-19. This pledge remains as important now as it did then.

As we enter the new year with many challenges – and cause for optimism with the roll-out of vaccines and rapid, accessible testing – our university students and staff will continue to make an important contribution to Liverpool’s efforts to minimise harm, deliver valuable local services and emerge as quickly and positively as possible from the pandemic.