Following the government announcement on the new national lockdown and DMU’s reaction to the announcement as outlined in Andy Collop’s email on Tuesday, we have reiterated our concerns to management at yesterday’s Health and Safety meeting.
We focused in particular on this point of the government guidance: “Universities and adult education settings should consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible” (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae#education-school-college-and-university). Management claim to have considered this point, but decided that no further action was needed.
As there has been no attempt to increase levels of online learning and as we are aware that a large number of f2f events could be delivered online, our view is that government guidelines have not been followed at this time. We pointed out that management’s decision is very disappointing, putting staff, students and the wider community at risk, and undermining the local and national effort to drive down the rate of infection. The least the university should do, given the significant rise in cases and the national lockdown, is to put people first and follow the government advice to move to increased levels of online learning wherever possible.
Given that, for programmes where in-person sessions are not essential for students to qualify, our in-person classes have been offered alongside an online alternative this term, not least (and quite rightly) to ensure that our many self-isolating students can attend. On all such programmes, in-person provision must now stop, in line with this guidance. Failure to do so quickly will mean encouraging students to breach the guidance (since they should all now be using the available online option).
In addition, we noted that:
* Staff over 60 should be exempted from f2f teaching with immediate effect. A review of the risk assessment for each staff over 60 is a lengthy and unnecessary process. We have formally requested that staff over 60 are exempted from teaching F2F and that they should not be asked to travel to work if this involves having to use public transport to travel to work.
* DMU updates on the number of Covid cases show a drop in infections. This is highly improbable from a statistical perspective. A hypothesis could be that students might not be reporting the results of their tests to DMU. This casts doubts on the capacity of the university to monitor the level of infections on campus.
* The rate of infection in Leicester was more than 2 times higher than the average infection rate in England (i.e 368 cases per 100,000 people, compared to the England average rate of156 cases per 100,000 people).
Given the above, we reiterate once again our long standing demand: move it all online now.
DMU UCU committee