Below is a joint statement from Professor Andy Schofield, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, and Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria:
Safety comes first
In all of our preparations for the year ahead we have put the safety and wellbeing of everyone in the community at the top of our agenda. Students coming to the two universities have shown great resilience to come here and study. We are sure they will receive a warm welcome and we will do everything in our power to help them to learn well and stay safe. We will be vigilant in ensuring that students adhere to the latest health advice.
This will be an academic year like no other and we have planned meticulously, working in close consultation with partners including the local authorities and those working in health and social care. We have plans in place to address any emerging public health scenario and these are fully in accordance with the latest government advice. This is underpinned by our own risk assessment work, for example around safe operation of academic buildings and student accommodation.
Some of the measures we’ve put in place
- A carefully thought-through blend of online and socially distanced in-person teaching
- Staggered arrival times for students arriving on campus to enable social distancing measures to be maintained
- Students accommodated in separate households
- An airport collection service that will deliver students to their accommodation and support them through their self-isolation period.
- A health education package for students that emphasises the importance of responsible behaviour, including adherence to government advice on social gatherings, hand washing and sanitising, use of face coverings and social distancing
- Enhanced cleaning and ventilation of University buildings, the use of one-way systems and reduced room capacities to enable social distancing
- A partnership approach to ensuring an effective test and trace scheme
An approach based on partnership
The universities have a strong track record of working in partnership with other institutions in the city and region: that puts us in the best possible position to reduce the ongoing risks posed by Covid.
Researchers at the two universities have been active throughout the pandemic in finding new ways to combat Covid. Students working in medicine, nursing, midwifery and allied health professions have been active in supporting care for patients and our labs were turned over to facilitate testing for the virus. Our students and staff have provided food and support to people having to self-isolate. Many challenges still lie ahead and our joint commitment to compassion, vigilance and helping others will continue to be called upon.
Building a brighter future
Whilst keeping everyone safe is at the top of our agenda, we must also focus on rebuilding the city’s economy and enabling people to live and prosper. Physical illness is not the only negative effect of the pandemic. Our students and staff will have a vital role to play in the recovery.
The students coming to study in Lancaster are the future of our society. We strongly believe that by working together we can help them to realise their dreams in a safe and effective manner. Their success will in turn help society as a whole to recover more swiftly and thereby contribute towards a healthier, happier and more prosperous future.