Page updated: 15 June 2021

Covid-19 Staff FAQs

This page includes frequently asked questions about the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, for University of Worcester staff. There are sections on:

These FAQs take into account government guidance and University policy at this time. The University’s approach will continue to be reviewed and updated and the arrangements described in these FAQs will be subject to change.

Please also see our campus safety pages for additional information, including guidance on the use of face coverings on campus.


Changes to the lockdown rules from Monday 17 May

The Government has announced that all university students who had not already returned to in-person teaching can now do so as part of its easing of England's lockdown rules.

Everyone should continue to follow the Government restrictions designed to protect your own safety and wellbeing, and that of others around you. This includes following the rules with regards to social distancing and the use of face coverings.

Our campuses are open

Students can access on-campus study spaces, catering facilities and the Hive library. They can also join in with organised sport and entertainment activities.


Current arrangements on campus

Is the University now open as normal?  (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

The government announced that with effect from 5th January 2021 there would be a further period of national lockdown. During this time, universities reverted to online delivery for all students except for those who are studying on ‘future critical worker’ courses.

The first stage of easing that lockdown commenced on 8th March 2021. With effect from 8th March 2021, any students studying on practical or practice-based courses (including creative arts) and where access to special equipment or facilities that are only accessible on campus is required, returned to campus for any such elements of their course which necessitated them doing so.

With effect from 17th May 2021 all remaining students can also now return to campus as necessary. The University is therefore open as normal, from 17th May 2021 onwards,  including the provision of study spaces, library facilities, catering facilities etc. 

Will I be required to or allowed to work on campus from 17th May 2021 onwards?  (UPDATED - 15 June)

Whilst  government guidance continues to advise that staff should work from home where it is feasible to do so, more colleagues will probably find it necessary and useful to return to campus for some or all of their time as the activity on campus increases.

For any staff who are involved in the provision of teaching or support for students who are studying or living on campus, you may need to be on-site for at least some of your scheduled working time.

The precise ‘blend’ of on-site/off-site working will vary across the University and each department’s approach will be determined locally by managers, based on whatever ‘blend’ is most effective for their role, their department and their team members. Your line manager will discuss your ’blend’ of on-site/off-site working with you and you are encouraged to raise any concerns you have with them. 

There are also some operational roles that obviously cannot be done from home at all, but which are crucial to keeping the University running (e.g. cleaning staff, security, library staff etc). Such individuals will be required to work on campus for all of their scheduled working time.

For any other individuals who may wish to work on campus, as the government message until at least 19 July 2021 remains to work from home wherever it is feasible to do so, please speak to your line manager if you wish to request to work on-site. If it is deemed appropriate or beneficial for you to work on-site for a particular reason or due to an exceptional circumstance then this could be permitted under the current government guidance for some of the time, providing that your line manager confirms that it is safe and appropriate for you to do so.

Are there any special requirements if/when I do work on campus?

Yes, it is important that all students and staff wear a lanyard displaying their University of Worcester identity card.  If you don’t have a lanyard please collect one from main reception at St John's campus or City campus.

All staff should maintain social distancing and follow any signing in protocols in place.  This is for the safety of all staff on site and is particularly important should an emergency evacuation be required. 

In line with Government guidance in England, face coverings are mandatory in some University settings, including our library (which is a Joint University and Public library) and the Campus shop. Please see the FAQ below for further advice on the wearing of face coverings in other University settings.  

Further University guidance can be found on our campus safety page.

Do I need to wear a face covering if I’m on campus?

Unless you are exempt, you should wear a face covering whenever you are indoors on campus, including in classrooms.

Please remember to clean your hands before and after touching your face covering – including to put it on or remove it.

Face coverings should be safely stored in individual, sealable plastic bags between use.

If a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn and should be replaced carefully. Please consider bringing a spare face covering to wear if your first face covering becomes damp during the day.

If you need to throw away your face covering for any reason you can dispose of it in a litter bin. You do not need to store your face covering for an extra time before throwing it away and you do not need to place your face covering into an extra bag beforehand. If you cannot find a litter bin or the litter bin is full, take your face covering home for safe disposal. Please do not put your face covering into a recycling bin or into a clothing bin as they cannot be recycled using conventional recycling facilities.

Face visors or shields should not be worn as an alternative to face coverings. They may protect against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in reducing aerosol transmission when used without an additional face covering. They should only be used in addition to a face covering after carrying out a risk assessment for the specific situation, and should always be cleaned appropriately. 

When seated and working at a desk in a staff office, providing social distancing (minimum of 2 metres) can be maintained at all times and ventilation is good then you shouldn’t need to wear a face covering unless it is your personal preference to do so. You must however put one on whenever you move away from your desk and when moving to a communal area, such as to collect papers from a printer.

Am I required to have a lateral flow test if I am going to be working on campus and, if so, how do I book one? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

A free ‘rapid’ lateral flow test facility is now available to members of staff at the University. Further information on the booking process can be found here. An information sheet on how the lateral flow test works, what it involves etc has also been compiled by the University’s OH provider for staff (PAM OH Solutions) should you wish to read it. This may be particularly helpful for individuals who are feeling anxious about the process and so wish to be more informed.

These tests are only available to colleagues with no symptoms of Covid-19 infection. If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test through the NHS.

All staff are strongly encouraged to take a lateral flow test before returning to work on campus and then twice weekly thereafter. This is to reduce the risk of anyone who is asymptomatic but carrying the virus, unintentionally infecting other staff members and students. If you do not live locally to Worcester, you can take the test at any other lateral flow test facility that is local to you. Home testing kits are also available for collection from the University testing centre at our Riverside campus. Further information can be found here.

If you should unfortunately test positive, then you should not attend campus, you should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test through the NHS. Please also inform your line manager of your positive test result as soon as possible.

Before getting tested, you should make sure you have arrangements in place to travel home immediately and safely in the event you do test positive. You should walk, cycle or drive wherever possible. If driving, you should try to be the only person in the vehicle, but can share a car with other members of your household or support bubble if necessary. You should open windows, wear a face covering and sit far away from others if sharing a car. You should not use public transport or a taxi or private hire vehicle to return home.

I work in a shared work space and my colleagues work within 2 metres of me. Is this safe?

Your manager will arrange measures to manage appropriate distancing.  They may consider a staggered approach or rotas to reduce the number of people in the work space at any one time and may alter the layout in the office to ensure you can each sit at a safe distance from your colleagues. The office will have been deep cleaned before you and colleagues return so all work spaces will be hygienic and safe to use.  

Where can I find any relevant return to campus documentation? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

The University return to campus SharePoint site provides access to a number of useful documents, including: 

  • A return to campus presentation and a link to an online checklist that staff need to complete prior to their return to campus.   
  • Links to government advice and the University’s Coronavirus web pages and FAQs. 
  • Access to general guidance, completed risk assessments and good practice advice. 

To log in to the site use your normal University credentials.  The site will continue to develop as and when guidance changes and any changes will be highlighted through the staff Daily Update.

 

Personal queries/concerns related to Covid-19

I am at an increased risk of illness from Covid-19 but the nature of my role requires me to work on campus. What options are available to me? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

Some people are deemed to be high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) or moderate risk (clinically vulnerable), meaning they are at an increased risk of illness from coronavirus, including those aged 70 and over and those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions. 

Any individuals who are high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) and whose role requires them to attend campus for some or all of their time can be required to do so. Such individuals are advised to speak to their line manager as soon as possible and to complete the Covid-Age calculator (https://alama.shinyapps.io/Covid_Age/).

The Covid-age calculator is a simple, easy to use tool provided by ALAMA (Association of Local Medical Advisors) that helps assess an individual’s vulnerability to Covid-19 and is based on published evidence for the main identified risk factors. Covid-age summarises vulnerability for combinations of risk factors including age, sex and ethnicity and various health problems. It is often used by Occupational Health Physicians to inform an occupational health assessment of fitness for work.

Where your ‘Covid-19 age’ is deemed to be High (a ‘Covid age’ of 70 or above) a Covid-19 Personal Risk Assessment should be completed to enable any further potential measures (if there are any) to be considered. Your manager will complete that Personal Risk Assessment with you.

If you are moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) please also let your manager know so that they can take this into account when considering your return to working on campus. In the first instance your manager will discuss with you the control measures in place in your working environment. You will also be advised to complete the Covid-19 Personal Risk Assessment process, the first stage of which is for you to complete the Covid-Age calculator (https://alama.shinyapps.io/Covid_Age/) as detailed above.

I am pregnant, have recently given birth (within the last 6 months) or I am breast feeding and I am concerned about working on campus due to Covid-19. What options are there for me?

Government guidance indicates that the risk of a pregnant employee potentially experiencing more severe side effects should they contract Covid-19, increases when their pregnancy reaches 28 weeks or more or where they already have an underlying health condition.

If you are pregnant then you are advised to inform your line manager of this as soon as possible so that a Covid-19 Personal Risk Assessment can be completed for you. Where that process determines that potential risks are removed or managed, then providing you have no underlying health conditions and your pregnancy is at less than 28 weeks, you can be required to attend work for some or all of the time, should your role require you to do so.

If it is not possible to implement any further suitable measures to mitigate any remaining identified risks in your normal role, consideration will be given to the next safest available role that may be suitable for you on a temporary basis.

If you have any underlying health conditions or if you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, extra caution is advised. In such situations and where there is any concern about your ability to work safely on campus following the completion of the Covid-19 Personal Risk Assessment process, it may be possible to allow for you to work from home subject to operational business needs and where your role allows you to do so. However, in the situation where this is not possible due to the nature of your role, a decision may be taken to suspend you on full pay and on the grounds of health and safety concerns so as to protect both you and your baby. Please speak to your line manager as soon as possible should you have any concerns in this regard. 

If you have recently given birth (within the last 6 months) or are breastfeeding, advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is that providing you are otherwise well, then there is no evidence that you or your baby are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or of becoming seriously unwell from it. If you have an underlying health condition that may class you as clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable however, then you should inform your line manager of this as soon as possible.

I am worried about returning to work on campus – can I continue to work from home? (UPDATED - 15 June)

Until at least 19 July 2021 (the updated end date of the Government’s current Covid-19 ‘roadmap’) it is envisaged that many staff are likely to be working from home for at least some if not all of their time.

Any individuals who do need to work on campus however can be assured that risk assessments have been completed and control measures put in place, such as social distancing, limiting the number of people in any one work/communal area, one way systems and covered outdoor space for breaks.  Guidance on social distancing can be found here.

We understand that some people may be worried and you are encouraged to ask questions and raise any concerns with your manager in the first instance.

What flexibility is available to help manage my childcare responsibilities? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

Nurseries and schools have all now reopened. It is anticipated therefore that, other than in cases where maybe your child is required to self-isolate in line with Government guidance, difficulties in terms of accessing childcare should reduce.

If you continue to experience childcare difficulties due to the impact of Covid-19 on your child’s school or nursery, reasonable paid time off will be permitted in order for you to make arrangements for alternative childcare (1 – 2 days). You should contact your line manager in the first instance to discuss this.

If a longer period is required and alternative childcare is not possible, you may be able to work from home (if you are not already doing so), take annual leave or unpaid leave. Your line manager will be able to discuss these options with you. 

If you wish to consider temporary alterations to your working hours to help manage caring responsibilities, please speak to your line manager in the first instance.  It will also depend on the extent to which your workload can be reallocated within the department. 

I wish to travel abroad for my holiday. Do I need to do anything further before I travel? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

With effect from 17th May 2021 international travel is once again permitted. The Government have introduced a traffic light system to determine which countries are safest for individuals to travel to and from, further details of which are available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england  

When returning to the UK you must follow the rules as stipulated, depending on whether you return from a red, amber or green list country. Only countries on the green list are currently exempt from any requirement to self-isolate/quarantine upon return, and so you are advised to regularly check the list for updates or changes if you are intending to travel.

If you do intend to travel abroad for your holidays, or for any other reason, then prior to travelling you should discuss and agree with your manager which of the following options is most appropriate in relation to your role, in case a period of self-isolation/quarantine is required upon your return to the UK:

  • book additional days holiday to cover the self-isolation period;
  • take unpaid leave for the self-isolation period; or,
  • work from home for the self-isolation period (if this is possible).

Please note that if you fail to seek prior approval and agreement from your line manager, and a subsequent period of self-isolation/quarantine is in fact required, your absence may be classed as unauthorised.

I am required to self-isolate because either I or a member of my household need to go into hospital for treatment/surgery. How will the period of self-isolation be recorded on my HR/Payroll record?

Your manager will ask you to provide a copy of the information received from the hospital, confirming the required self-isolation period. If you prefer to then you can redact any information that you feel is particularly personal to you or your family member (e.g. the reason for the hospital visit), however, please ensure that the home address is still showing and ideally also your/your family member’s name.

If you are the individual who is having the operation/treatment, you will be advised to work from home for the required self-isolation period if you can (this may include your manager providing you with alternative duties for the period of self-isolation if that is possible). If you are not able to work from home however, then your required self-isolation period will be recorded as sick leave but a medical note will not be required. Sick pay will be paid in accordance with your contractual sick pay entitlement.

If you are just a member of the same household, again you will be advised to work from home if you can (this may include your manager providing you with alternative duties for the period of self-isolation if possible). If you are not able to work from home however, then the required self-isolation period will be classed as special paid leave.

Where can I get support and advice during this time?

We understand that you may have concerns or anxiety in relation to the current situation.

The University has an Employee Assistance Programme, provided by PAM Assist, and which is accessible free of charge to all University employees. The service provides all employees with a 24/7 confidential helpline, an online live chat facility and a range of online wellbeing articles and resources. Further details of the new provider are available on the HR Health and Wellbeing page, as well as details of alternative sources of support if you prefer.

What to do if you think you might have or do have Covid-19

What if I feel unwell with symptoms of coronavirus when I am teaching a class on campus? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

If you become unwell with symptoms of coronavirus whilst teaching on campus, please ask your class to leave the room in an orderly manner, observing social distancing. Then go home immediately. Please do not go back to your School or staff office. As soon as you can, please call your School Office to let them know that you are unwell and that you have asked your class to leave.

Please remain at home in line with Government 'stay at home' guidance.

You should book a Covid-19 test as quickly as possible, using a local test site where this is available. 

You must keep the University informed of the result by contacting your line manager.

Who do I need to tell if I need to self-isolate due to Covid-19? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

If you are following official guidance to self-isolate please contact your line manager at the earliest opportunity.

If you do not have symptoms of Covid-19, or you do but you are well enough to work, your manager will be able to discuss whether you are able to carry out all or part of your work from home. 

Please advise your manager of the guidance that you are following and the recommended duration of self-isolation, in accordance with the government guidance.  Please also confirm whether you are waiting for a Covid-19 test, have been tested and are awaiting results, or have received results. It is important that anyone who does have symptoms books themselves a Covid-19 test immediately.

If your school / department has local absence reporting procedures which require you to notify someone in addition to your line manager, for example, the PAS generic email, please follow this process.

If you are self-isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days, you should notify your line manager and obtain an online self-isolation note from the:

How long you need to self-isolate depends on if you have coronavirus (Covid-19) or you've been in close contact with someone who does.  Please refer to the advice provided by the NHS on self-isolation.

What will I be paid if I need to self-isolate? (UPDATED - 21 MAY)

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and have been advised to self-isolate you will be paid in accordance with the University’s sickness absence policy. Should you have symptoms but still otherwise feel well enough to work from home then you can discuss this option with your line manager.

If you are following official government guidance to self-isolate, maybe because someone who you live with/is in your support bubble has symptoms or has a confirmed case of Covid-19, or you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace but you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 yourself, your line manager will be able to discuss with you whether it is possible for you to do all or some of your work from home.  If you work from home you will continue to receive normal pay.  If you are following official guidance to self-isolate and are unable to work from home you will be entitled to sick pay in accordance with the terms of your contract and the University’s sickness absence policy

Hourly paid employees will be paid for scheduled work in accordance with their contract of employment and should follow the University’s guidance on providing appropriate self certification and medical certification in addition to submitting timesheets identifying the scheduled hours as either sickness absence or self isolation/social distancing.

If you are self isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days, you should obtain an online self-isolation note from the:

How do I report that I have a confirmed case of Covid-19?

If you have been tested and have received a positive result of Covid-19 please report it following your normal departmental process as soon as possible. The absence will be treated as sickness absence in line with the University’s sickness absence policy.

A member of the HR team will then contact you. To assist the University with providing all necessary information to Public Health England (PHE) as promptly as possible, you will be asked to try and identify any individuals within the University (staff, students and potentially visitors) with whom you had close contact during the 48 hours prior to your symptoms commencing. Please note that you will only be asked to provide information relating to potential close contacts within the work environment. PHE will contact you directly about any contacts you may have had outside of the workplace.

I am a line manager – how do I report that a member of my team is not at or able to work due to Covid-19? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

For any absence relating to Covid-19, including precautionary self-isolation on the advice of NHS Test and Trace or because of a case within the individual’s household, please record this using the University’s Covid-19 portal.

In cases where a positive result is recorded, the individual will then be contacted by a member of the HR team. To assist the University with providing all necessary information to Public Health England (PHE) as promptly as possible, the member of staff will be asked to try and identify any individuals within the University (staff, students and potentially visitors) with whom they had close contact during the 48 hours prior to their symptoms commencing. Should the HR team have any problems with contacting the individual concerned then you may be asked to assist with this process.

A flowchart and checklist for managers to follow in relation to the reporting and management of any suspected and confirmed staff cases of Covid-19 is available here.

How will I know if a colleague has Covid-19?

If a colleague has symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid-19 they must inform their manager of this as soon as possible.  They will be asked to provide details of any other colleagues with whom they were in close contact during the 48 hours prior to them developing their symptoms. This information will then be shared with Public Health England (PHE) and advice will be sought on who may also need to self-isolate. HR will then contact any colleagues that are confirmed as needing to self-isolate. Therefore, you only need to self-isolate if you are contacted by HR or by PHE directly. 

Am I required to engage in NHS Test and Trace?

If you develop symptoms of Covid-19 you must self-isolate immediately.  You should inform your manager, book a Covid-19 test and engage in the NHS Test and Trace Scheme.  If you subsequently test positive for Covid-19, you must inform your manager immediately and you will be then be contacted by a member of HR asking you to share details of any University colleagues (staff, students or visitors) with whom you have had close contact during the 48 hours prior to your symptoms developing.

Alternatively, you may be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Service or via the mobile phone app to be informed that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.  If you have been contacted by Test and Trace or had an alert via the mobile phone app, you must self-isolate as directed and not attend work.  Your manager may ask to see a copy of the communication from NHS Test and Trace. 

If you are self-isolating without symptoms, you should discuss with your manager whether you can work from home if the nature of your role allows you to do so. 

Support and guidance while working remotely

How can I organise my work when working from home?

Identify in discussion with your line manager which aspects of your work are suitable for homeworking and what access to University systems is required and available. If needed, the University may be able to loan equipment on a short-term basis to support homeworking.

Your line manager must agree your usual start and finish times. You will be expected to attend virtual meetings, events and any training arranged by your line manager and, for example, your team or course leader.

To help colleagues keep in touch with you, you must provide a contact email (your usual work email address in most cases) and telephone number. You are expected to be available by telephone and email during your working hours. In addition, you should use your outlook calendar to provide information on your working arrangements and share this with your line manager.

You are expected to be available during working hours. If there are times when you will not be available, or you need quiet time to concentrate without being disturbed, please let your colleagues know and advise when you will be contactable.

Working from home might require being more aware of the need for confidentiality and GDPR requirements. Please refer to the University’s guidelines on safe practice, data protection and information security.

The University’s insurance policy for employer’s liability and personal accident will operate in the same way as office based employees for approved occasional home working. However, you should also consider whether you need to advise a landlord, mortgage provider and/or insurer (contents and/or buildings) that you will be working from home occasionally. 

In certain circumstances the University may ask you to carry out work at home that is outside your normal duties but commensurate with your role to help maintain essential services

How can I keep in contact with colleagues when working from home? (UPDATED - 13 MAY

Working from home, for some people, might give rise to feelings of being isolated especially if the normal work setting is as part of a close team; you may find it helpful to book regular contact with colleagues and line managers

Forms of contact might include email, telephone, and Microsoft Teams. Having a visual contact session may be preferable to using email or phone alone.

We've put together some guidance and resources to support the wellbeing of those working from home.

What IT support is available to me? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

IT are working with colleagues across the University to ensure we can provide the right support during the current situation.

Working remotely

The best place to go for support about how to access services and attend meetings virtually are the IT Service web pages on remote working.

You will find information about how to connect to corporate systems, access files and email, and use Microsoft Teams for collaboration and video calls. As time progresses we will be offering support to colleagues through online chat and this can be found on the standard IT Service Desk

Do you have any advice on GDPR?

Data Protection – Best practice while working remotely

Worcester’s commitment to the protection of data is a vital component of how we all work. This applies onsite and equally when offsite in remote locations. It’s very important to remember that when we are not in the office, and where we might be working in different ways that we still adhere to the same stringent processes that protect people and data.

 - You can access personal data while working at home, as you would do in the office, if you need this to do your job.

  • You should not share this data with any unauthorised third parties, including the people you share your home with.
  • You may print documents with personal data or confidential information to enable you to do your job, but you MUST ensure that you do not mislay it.  When you have finished using it ensure safe and secure disposal by shredding or careful cross cutting by hand.
  • Where possible ensure that you lock personal data away when not in use, or when you are absent from your home workspace.
  • Apply password protection to computers, screensavers and documents and remember to log out/close any applications when you finish working.

 - You can share data securely by:

  • Via voice calls, either phone, Skype for Business or Teams – this also allows you to stay in touch
  • Using Onedrive to share information securely
  • Using a shared folder on the O drive
  • You can use email but be mindful that anything sent by email is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In addition, anything you put in writing is subject to disclosure under data protection law.  We therefore recommend that you keep personal data sharing by email to a minimum and use one of the other methods listed above.

If you are using your personal device to work remotely please ensure that when accessing any University files stored in OneDrive, SharePoint or those located on the O: drive, you must not download said files to your device. Work on these from within the Microsoft Office 365 applications or your web browser and save them back to the location they are stored in.

Further advice on remote working including instructions to add the O: drive to your personal device are located on the IT Service webpages found here or you can contact the IT helpdesk on 01905 85750 for further information.

If you are working on a personal device that is used by other members of your family or household you should endeavour to have a different account on that device for your work that they do not share. Where this is not possible - such as on single account devices - be very mindful to close any browser sessions you have open that connect to Worcester before handing the device to someone else. You should also be mindful that any cached credentials would give that person access to your accounts (email etc.) and that these should be cleared before the other users access the device.

Suspected Data Breaches

Any suspected data breaches MUST be reported as soon as you become aware of them, the sooner we are made aware the better chance we have to rectify the position.

You should report any suspected data breach, as usual, to infoassurance@worc.ac.uk and for this period we also request these are also sent to h.johnstone@worc.ac.uk and gemma.harris@worc.ac.uk.

We have 72 hours to investigate incidents and report them to the ICO so your urgent action is required.

You can find more information about Data Breaches via this weblink

Information Requests

Please also ensure that you pass on any requests for data made by individuals or organisations (Subject Access Requests or Freedom of Information requests) urgently as we are obligated to respond to these within strictly prescribed deadlines.   

Please send requests to foirequests@worc.ac.uk

Further guidance can be found at: https://www2.worc.ac.uk/informationassurance/information-security.html and https://www2.worc.ac.uk/it/remote-working.html

For any other queries in relation to personal data and working remotely that aren’t addressed here or via the above weblinks please contact the Information Governance Officer, Gemma Harris by email to: gemma.harris@worc.ac.uk

Is there any advice available on looking after my wellbeing while working remotely?

Here’s some advice to help you to take care of your wellbeing while we’re away from the campus

It’s based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing framework, an evidence-based model for wellbeing developed by the New Economics Foundation. When the Five ways are exercised we are more likely to feel better.

Connect

Find a suitable space at home to work, this will lend itself to a feeling of “going to work”. A sensible worktop and screen arrangement are essential. And use the  display screen assessment to help you check that your set-up is still suitable.

Physical isolation doesn’t mean social distance. Keep in touch with colleagues regularly, text, DM, make every effort to attend online meetings. Regular meetings in MSTeams is a great way to do this.

Online coffee breaks are a good way to check in with each other and not talk about work.

Keep to routine so colleagues know when you are available.

Keeping in touch with friends and family who are not part of your bubble is also important and it might be useful to set a regular time to call them – phone, text or video call.

There’s a new employee assistance service – PAM Assist – where you can contact an external independent adviser about a wide range of topics, personal and work related, in confidence and at any time. Details are on the HR webpages.

There is support from the staff networks – the LGBTQ+ group on lgbtq@worc.ac.uk and the Staff Mental Health Network smhn@worc.ac.uk. The these are run by staff for staff. Many trades unions also have support services.     

Be active

Leave the house every day and get some fresh air – the garden counts.

Have regular breaks, get up and move, it’s too easy to get lost in your screen. You could set your alarm and move every 20 minutes, or find a buddy and prompt each other to shift. Arrange an online break or commit to sending each other photographic evidence of your movement. Hanging out the washing counts.

Taking control of your working practice, by organising your schedule or spotting something that can be improved and improving it. Now is the time to innovate, find new ways of doing things and take back control.

There are many different type of on-line exercise classes now, check out the ones from our colleagues here   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgkQjA7GhYTcibOEwbkl60A.

Take Notice

Take notice of how you feel and ask colleagues how they are.

If you notice a colleague struggling, contact them and ask about general topics – how was the weekend, their plans for the evening, TV programmes you both watch.

Create a “preparing for work” routine, be that a quick tidy or washing the pots to replace the commute.

Set your working hours and maintain the boundaries between work and home life, it’s very tempting to ‘just finish this off’ and end up working beyond the normal end of the working day.

Spend a few minutes settling into your workspace, prioritising your to do list and preparing to be at work. In the same way, practice a shut-down at the end of the day, reflect on the day’s achievements and tidy your desk.

Notice the changing seasons, the days are getting a little longer now, make a point of going outside when the sun shines. Share these moments with your team.

Some colleagues have found that learning about ‘mindfulness’ helps them, there are some useful resources and details of courses on the staff development workshop system.   

Keep learning

We’re learning fast right now: immersing ourselves in the IT; embracing new ways of connecting; It’s challenging and rewarding in equal measure and will continue to be so as things keep on changing.

Learning takes a lot of mental energy and recognise some things might take longer than usual.

Notice your ‘learning curve’ – it takes a while to settle into new routines and reflect on what works well for you.

Check out the resources and sessions on the staff development booking pages; Linked-In learning has a wide range of courses, not only about work – you can learn to play a musical instrument; take some time to update the ‘essentials’ training in LearnUpon. There are good quality and free courses here https://www.futurelearn.com/

It might be a good time to rekindle or start a new hobby, read that book that you’ve been meaning to.      

Give

Colleagues are offering their resources and expertise to others by responding to requests for information and joining in discussions.  

Become a mentor for a new member of staff, someone taking up a new role or returning to working following a period of absence. There’s a short briefing session to help you get started, see staff development workshop bookings.

Volunteers are  needed to support local people, here’s a website link  where you can volunteer. https://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help

Whatever we do in HE –  teachers and professional services staff – we all contribute and are making a  difference for students, colleagues and society.

 

There are 3 other topics that are important to wellbeing;

Eat

More difficult to control when at home and the fridge/biscuit tin is nearby, remember the 5 a day advice and set aside regular time for meals, taken away from the home workstation. Keep the balance between food and exercise and have the occasional treat.      

Sleep

There is a lot of good advice about sleep here https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/sleep-better/

Key messages – have a regular routine, wind down, no screens before bed  

Relax

This can be through a range of activities – not just sitting still, this video has some good ideas.   

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/relaxation/relaxation-tips/

Management of and support for students

How can I best support our students?

We know that many staff will be approached by students with concerns about coronavirus. Please encourage your students to visit the Student FAQs on the website which includes advice on what they should do if they have symptoms of Covid-19. If they have any specific questions that are not addressed in the FAQs or need additional support, they should contact firstpoint@worc.ac.uk 

What if a student that I am teaching tests positive for Covid-19?

If a student has symptoms, or tests positive, they are asked to record this on the reporting portal on SOLE. This alerts the University, who will follow up with the student. If they test positive, Public Health are also automatically notified. At this stage, Public Health will work closely with the University to identify staff and students who may have had close contact with the student. They will carefully assess the situation, including the duration and circumstances of the contact and will then advise whether any action, including a period of precautionary self-isolation is required for you or for other students in the class. If you are not contacted, you should continue as normal and do not need to take any further action, other than following the usual precautions outlined in these FAQs. 

If your students are concerned about Covid-19, you can remind them of the resources available on this website and on the firstpoint webpages. The Students’ Union also have webpages and social media channels dedicated to Covid-19 support.

What do I do if a student becomes unwell with Covid-19 symptoms in my class? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

Students have had information on what to do if they have one or more symptoms of Covid-19, which clearly state they are not permitted to come onto campus.  They should return immediately to where they are currently living, self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible, following the government guidance. Students should use the online student absence reporting system on SOLE to report their absence. This will automatically notify their Personal Academic Tutor and Course Leader, and, if they are staying in University of Worcester accommodation, will let Security know that they are self-isolating. This has been sent to students in a letter, is on the FAQs, and they have been sent an induction video which covers the basics of being on campus. There is also signage on campus on what to do if you have symptoms. The Welcome guide app also links to the Covid pages on the website. 

In the event that student becomes unwell on campus, they should go home to their term-time address immediately and follow the above process to self-isolate and get tested. If the student is too unwell to go home, separate them from other students and call Security, who will provide the appropriate support.

Anyone else in their household will also need to isolate for 10 days from when the student’s symptoms started, unless the student has a test and it comes back negative, and nobody else in the house has symptoms.  Students in a shared house or flat are considered to be a household, so they will all need to isolate if one of them has any of the symptoms of Covid-19, or tests positive.

What do I do if a student contacts me to say they have symptoms? (UPDATED - 13 MAY)

Advise them to follow the government guidance to self-isolate and get a test. They should then report their absence on their SOLE page and keep SOLE updated on the status of their test. Anyone else in their household will also need to isolate for 10 days from when the student’s symptoms started, unless the student has a test and it comes back negative, and nobody else in the house has symptoms.  Students in a shared house or flat are considered to be a household, so they will all need to isolate if one of them has any of the symptoms of Covid-19, or tests positive.

If a student who has attended one of my classes tests positive for Covid-19, what happens next? Will the whole class have to isolate?

If a student tests positive, they should report this using the online student absence reporting system on SOLE.  This will alert Student Services and Public Health, as well as the Personal Academic Tutor, Course Leader, and Security (for students in University of Worcester accommodation).  Student Services and Public Health will then work together to talk to the student and establish their movements and activities for the period when they were considered to be infectious (starting from two days before their symptoms emerged, or the date of the positive test if they are asymptomatic).  It is only close contacts of the positive case who will be asked to isolate.  Close contacts in a classroom setting are likely to be anyone who:

  • was within 2 metres of the positive case for more than 15 minutes (with or without a face mask)
  • was within 1 metre for more than one minute (with or without a face mask)
  • had face-to-face contact (within one metre), including being coughed on
  • had skin-to-skin physical contact

In the case of a student who attended one of your classes during the period when they would be considered infectious, Student Services may contact you to check on the seating arrangements, such as how close together students were sitting, and whether they stayed in the same groups or moved tables.  They may also need to ask about activities that took place as part of the session, and arrangements for breaks (such as whether the students left the room; if they all went out at the same time; and when the breaks were and how long for).  A class list may also be helpful if we need to contact a number of students who attended the session.  This level of detail will help us to establish which students or staff might have been in close contact with the virus, so that the minimum number of people can be asked to isolate to reduce its spread.

 

Further information

 

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here please contact your line manager in the first instance, or email hr@worc.ac.uk