Letter to all students: Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Experience - 3 November

Dear student,

Following the Government’s announcement of a national lockdown from Thursday 5 November I want to reassure you that:

  • Our COVID secure campuses will remain open with safety measures in place.
  • We will continue to deliver your programmes via our blended learning approach, including ongoing research activity on campus where this cannot be undertaken remotely.
  • Halls of residence will remain open.
  • You can still use our libraries and study spaces.

First, please read a letter from Michelle Donelan MP – the Universities Minister - which explains why it is so important that universities stay open.

Please can I remind you of the Government’s advice relating to travel which says that during this period, to protect the health of your loved ones and other people, you shouldn’t travel away from your usual term time address.

Our recent student survey showed that 60 per cent of you want more in-person education so please do continue to attend classes if you are fit and well, while continuing to follow our guidelines for safety on campus. If we need to make changes to our teaching model, we will let you know as soon as we can.

What’s different in lockdown

Under the new rules, from Thursday November 5:

  • If you live at University, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.
  • You can leave home (e.g. your Living Circle, student flat or shared house) for your education (eg. attending teaching, or using study and library facilities), for work purposes, food shopping for food and essentials, for outdoor exercise or in case of emergency.
  • You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or Living Circle, except for cases where childcare and other forms of support are necessary.
  • You should stay safe when outside – maintain social distancing, practise good hand hygiene and wear face coverings where required.
  • You can exercise outdoors, and you will be able to meet with one other person outside your household for exercise outdoors.
  • If you are in a single-adult household, you can form or maintain a support bubble with another household.

You can read more about the current Government guidance.

Staying safe

Safety measures are in place across our campuses, including one-way systems inside buildings, increased regular cleaning, and reducing the number of people on-site to about 25 per cent of capacity. We also need your help to keep everyone safe. When you’re on campus, remember to:

  • keep your distance from others;
  • wear a face covering (and your visor in teaching spaces); and
  • wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds.

You can find out more about staying safe on our website, and in our Covid-19 Behavioural Policy (PDF, 95kB), which sets out the expectations of all members of our community during the pandemic.

You must stay at home and self-isolate immediately if:

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste;
  • you've tested positive for coronavirus;
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive;
  • you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app;
  • you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk.

If you need to self-isolate, you must stay at your current place of residence, whether or not you have symptoms and you must not travel or return home, as this risks spreading the infection to other parts of the country or overseas.

It’s important that you let us know if you may have coronavirus so we can provide the support you need and put measures in place to reduce the risk of infection, such as additional cleaning. We will inform your School as well, so they can offer you any academic help you need, too.

If you have any questions about coronavirus at Bristol or what we are doing to keep you safe, contact the Info Point team or visit the website. If your family has any questions, please direct them to our information for parents and supporters of Bristol students.

What if I don’t follow the rules?

As a University we have been very clear about the behaviours we expect from our community – particularly in light of the challenging times we all face. We know the vast majority of you are doing the right thing, but under the University’s rules there are serious consequences for those few who do not obey these, including disciplinary action, fines and campus sanctions – in addition to police fines.

We will not hesitate to take action to protect others– especially where people’s lives are being put at risk.

What if I see someone else not obeying the rules?

If you are worried about another student’s behaviour, you can report this anonymously using our Report and Support tool. If you have serious concerns which need urgent attention (which are not life-threatening) please contact Security Services.

We are committed to ensuring you receive the best possible university experience, albeit in the challenging circumstances we continue to face.

Where to get support and help

For many of you, particularly those who are new to Bristol, we appreciate this will be especially difficult since you have started to form friendship groups and will be trying to settle into University life.

We know that lockdowns can feel boring and lonely so it is important to keep in contact with friends and family via video and phone calls where you can. We will be putting on more online social activities in the coming weeks to help you stay entertained and will let you know more details as soon as we can. Keep an eye on My Opportunities as well as Bristol SU’s events programme.

Our Student Support and Wellbeing services can help you look after your health and wellbeing. You can also find information about looking after your mental and physical health on our online platform, Being Well, Living Well. If you're staying in Bristol halls, the Resilife team is on hand to help you if you need support, feel unwell or need to self-isolate.

Student Minds – the UK’s student mental health charity – has set up a resource called Student Space. This has a section dedicated to accessing the support you need during the pandemic. If you just need to chat to somebody, Togetherall is a digital support service you can use to help you deal with everything from everyday stresses to major life events. Also, we’ve teamed up with Mind, the Mental Health Charity, to provide workshops and training for undergraduate students to discuss mental health with peers.

Help and support is also available from Bristol SU.

I know you will play your part to get through this difficult time and do your best to support each other. We must come together to respond and do everything we can try and stop the further spread of the virus in order to protect ourselves and those around us.

Keep safe and well,

Sarah

Professor Sarah Purdy
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience

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