While it’s a bit of a relief that Monday will not see radical changes to safety arrangements at the University, there were a couple of issues in the Vice Chancellor’s recent announcement on the University’s plans for the transition period to the start of the new academic year.
Firstly and possibly most urgently there is a real contradiction between the announced end of “mandated” face coverings and the key principle that existing risk assessments remain in place until reviewed. Many risk assessments will themselves mandate face coverings and it’s really important that messaging is clear about this – it’s everyone’s responsibility to continue to comply with measures detailed in the existing risk assessments until these are properly reviewed.
Secondly it’s also massively important that things don’t change across campus at different rates. As such we’ve asked for changes to happen consistently across campus as well as to be properly consulted on and communicated. It would be incredibly confusing if buildings near each other change their general approach to things at different rates.
More important than both of these points though is the question of what exactly should change. The University has a clear ability (and duty) under H&S law to keep measures in place to reduce the risks to staff, students and visitors. Depending on how the broader situation develops it may very well prove to be prudent and responsible to keep in place many of the existing occupancy controls, amended working arrangements and other control measures. We call on the University to engage in a proper dialogue with staff and their safety representatives about the best methods for keeping everyone safe.