19 January: Message from the University Secretary: COVID 19-update
The First Minister informed Parliament yesterday (18 January) that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed in Scotland before Christmas will be lifted on 24 January. This follows data showing a reduction in infection in the community. The First Minister stated that while pressures remain on the health service, “the latest data gives us confidence that we have turned the corner on the Omicron wave.”
Teaching and learning: in-person and online engagement
In view of the First Minister’s positive assessment of the current situation, and as advised in my previous message, we are now planning to deliver more in-person teaching this semester. Please continue to check regularly for any updates to personal timetables.
To help ensure you succeed, it’s important that you engage with your studies and attend classes from the beginning of semester – whether this is for scheduled online or in-person teaching. If you are normally able to travel to campus in person, then please attend all your on-campus timetabled teaching sessions. If you can’t travel to campus for the start of semester due to COVID-19 travel, visa or isolation restrictions, it’s important that you inform your module coordinators as soon as possible so that they can support you to engage with your learning and teaching online, where it is feasible to do so.
If you are coming to campus for the first time or find things have changed, use the campus maps on the University app and get help with queries at the Information Desk in the library or through the Student Hub, using Live Chat on the portal.
Lifting of restrictions
The First Minister announced that restrictions on indoor events and physical distancing in hospitality settings, as well as the requirement for table service in premises selling alcohol, will be lifted on 24 January. Restrictions on non-professional indoor, contact sports are also removed on this date. While the limit on three households mixing indoors will also be lifted next week, the government advises that the number of households mixing indoors should be kept as small as circumstances allow.
The removal of these restrictions is positive news for our own venues and events planning, and the delivery of the full programme of welcome activities scheduled for new and returning students. Outside of these, there are fantastic opportunities to meet up with friends on campus in a safe environment, whether that’s in the Students’ Union, or Campus Central, where you can socialise, eat, and study; our Sports Centre for leisure, sport and wellbeing activity; or our biggest space of all – outdoors (weather permitting!) enjoying our fantastic, green 330-acre campus.
Keeping yourself and others safe
Our priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, and the local community of which we are a part – please continue to refer to the University website and Scottish Government for the latest information.
Remember to take a lateral flow test immediately before travelling from home to your term-time accommodation and continue to test frequently after you’ve arrived. This includes taking a test before attending classes on campus –this will help to keep you, other students, and staff safe. Even if you don’t have symptoms, taking regular lateral flow tests – available free on campus, from pharmacies and online – is critical to containing the spread of COVID-19.
The vaccine and vaccine booster is also available on campus and appointments can be booked via the NHS website.
We are asking our community to commit to the Stirling Campus Pledge which includes wearing a face covering, sanitising hands, registering your presence in buildings via the QR codes at entrances, notifying the University if you have Covid or are self-isolating, and respecting physical distancing where required. Please remember face coverings are a legal requirement in enclosed public spaces, unless exempt.
As is the case in wider society, we will continue to navigate our way carefully through the coming months. While the pandemic isn’t over, and we must remain vigilant, there is reason to be positive about the weeks and months ahead. In addition to the downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases in Scotland, the First Minister advised she would soon set out the Government’s updated Strategic Framework for managing COVID-19 in a less restrictive way, as we move into the endemic phase of the virus and information will be shared with students and staff when details become available.
Thank you for your continued support and best wishes for the semester ahead.
University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer
COVID Response Lead