Safety on campus

SAFETY ON CAMPUS, 7 October 2021

The branch notes that:

The UK is currently experiencing a new wave of cases fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta Variant and that the more cases that occur, the more likely it is that Delta will further mutate and result in vaccine escape[1].

Although deaths are lower, there are still 30-40,000 new cases a day and around 1000 deaths a week of which many are young people and around a third are fully vaccinated;[2]

The Office for National Statistics currently reports “that over 106,000 under-25s are living with long Covid in the UK[3]

The transmission risks for universities (e.g., independent adult population; mass (inter)national travel; creating new households; ‘fresher’, sports and social events), are as high if not higher than last year since case numbers are higher in the UK than at this point last year.[4]

While Government restrictions have been lifted enabling in person teaching, government guidance places a duty on universities to reduce transmission of Covid-19[5].

SAGE’s advice, the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, is that those who can do so should continue to work from home;[6]

This branch therefore demands that: 

  1. a) Where staff are willing and able to do so, all tasks should be carried out at home in line with SAGE advice from September, with an emphasis on flexible working based on individual choice.[7]
  2. b) No detriment or criticism of staff who do not wish to come on campus or teach in person with a ‘focus on support rather than coercion’ and support staff to ‘make choices that keep them physically and psychologically well’ [8]
  3. c) Always ensure online options for vulnerable staff and those with caring responsibilities who need to support or protect others.[9]
  4. d) Prioritise teaching and leave other tasks such as administration, tutorials and meetings to be held online (if fewer people are on campus social distancing will be easier).
  5. e) Improvements to ventilation in all indoor spaces, including detailed checks, provision of CO2 monitors and HEPA filters where necessary
  6. f) Compulsory mask wearing by students unless exempt, following Birkbeck University,[10] in shared indoor work or communal spaces rather than leave it to individual choice (also in line with government expectations and recommendations).
  7. g) Strong, clear messaging about distancing
  8. h) Provision of FFP2/3 respirator masks[11]
  9. i) Requirement for negative tests within the last 72 hours to enter campus – testing centre to be open 8am -5pm etc.
  10. h) Detailed plans for any local outbreak ‘in a timely rather than last minute way’.[12]

[1] SAGE (2021) The Independent Sage Report 49: Statement on Universities and Colleges Autumn 2021 in the Context of SARS-CoV-2

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] ibid


[7] ibid

[8] SAGE (2021) p.6

[9] ibid. p. 5

[10] See section on ‘What to Expect When You Visit Campus’


[12] Sage p.5.

CARRIED, with 91% of the vote of members present