Keele and Staffordshire universities outline measures to ensure safe return to campus

As students are expected to return to campuses across Staffordshire later this month, two major universities have shared their safety measures to reassure students, parents and local communities.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, and Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University, have outlined how both institutions aim to resume studies safely.

Keele has implemented a five-stage system that will define what studying at Keele will be like for the 2020/21 academic year, which will largely be influenced by prevailing government guidelines and will dictate which facilities and services will be open, and to what extent. Keele is currently at stage 3 which is the first phase of reopening its campus.

At this stage, Keele has committed to delivering a hybrid model, complementing online delivery with covid-secure small group, seminar, laboratory, practical and placement activities. University accommodation will be available to Keele students, across all years of study, where students will form small households of up to eight, allowing students to observe prevailing requirements for social distancing but still enjoy an on-campus experience.

Similarly, students at Staffordshire University will experience a blend of online learning and on-campus teaching – conducted in line with official guidance – as well as additional signposting to help them navigate their way safely around the institution’s campuses.

Additional measures to support students living in Staffordshire University-managed accommodation include allocating residents together in course- and school-specific groups, as well as reducing the number of occupants in flats and houses, all of which have been deep cleaned in preparation for their arrival. Detailed information is available on the university’s coronavirus webpages, along with videos created as part of its ‘We’ve got your back’ campaign – an initiative designed to inform students about the covid-secure measures that have been put in place ahead of their arrival.

Both universities have made alterations to campus buildings including one-way systems where possible, hand sanitisers throughout, new safety guidance signage, increased regular deep cleaning, and have reduced capacity allowed within buildings.

International students arriving to study at Keele and Staffordshire universities from countries which require travellers to complete a 2-week quarantine will live in university-owned accommodation on campus, and will receive support for the duration of their quarantine.

Both institutions have joined the national effort to help tackle Covid-19, with more than 350 students training to be nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers joining the NHS frontline to help with the coronavirus crisis.

Professor McMillan, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, and the local community is our highest priority, and we want to assure you that activities will only take place on campus where it is safe to do so. We are taking our welfare and civic responsibility very seriously and are committed to doing everything we can to minimise risks and ensure that the return of students will be as safe as possible for everyone.

“Our approach details a five-level system which demonstrates how we will enable our campus operations to respond to the national guidelines. This allows us to adapt to changing advice from the Government and we will constantly review our delivery to be in line with official guidelines in close collaboration and consultation with the local Public Health Services to ensure we have a whole community approach."

Professor Martin Jones added: “Staffordshire University is fully committed to delivering a first-class student experience through blended teaching and learning, enabling our connected community to benefit from a combination of on-campus and virtual delivery. We have also worked closely with our Students’ Union to create a tailored calendar of extra-curricular activities, enabling students to make friends and enjoy our vibrant social scene in a covid-secure manner.

“We would like to assure our students, staff and local communities that we have taken every possible measure to ensure our campuses and residences are covid-secure. We will continue to act in accordance with official guidance from the UK Government and other relevant authorities, enabling our university community to make the most of our state-of-the-art facilities while maintaining social distancing.”