Published: 1st October, 2021
Leicester UCU has been engaging in discussions with University management regarding members’ concerns about the risk posed by Covid-19, as staff who have been working primarily from home return to campus.
Ventilation in rooms used by staff and students has emerged as a central issue in reducing the risk of infection. Our aim is to ensure that all rooms are ventilated to the standard set out by the UCU in its national advice.
As part of our discussions, we have been supplied with a spreadsheet of rooms that are set to be used for teaching. The spreadsheet is available below. It is also on Sharepoint.
Before teaching, please consult this spreadsheet. The room in which you will be teaching should be listed. There are various categories of room:
The ECT’s contact details are: 0116 252 2319 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Any problems that arise should be logged through the health and safety system via email: email@example.com. You should also report these by email to LUCU’s health and safety officers: Sally Horrocks (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Mike Mulheran (email@example.com). We also have an online form to simplify this. Report any problems anonymously via our link, and we will report these to the Executive Board on a regular basis. It is important that you report problems as soon as you can in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
The LUCU still has two major concerns regarding ventilation.
The first relates to WorkSmart areas and other non-teaching working spaces. The second regards a small number of teaching rooms where ventilation meets the standards used by the University but does not meet the standards set out by the UCU nationally.
We are continuing to raise our concerns about these issues and will keep members updated.
Here is the spreadsheet the University have supplied us with regarding the rooms that are set to be used for teaching and their ventilation information.
As a result of concerns raised by the LUCU, among others, the University’s language on mask wearing has become firmer. The University’s policy is currently that students are “expected to wear face coverings” in teaching spaces and other crowded areas, unless exempt.
We recommend that LUCU members inform students of this expectation at the start of teaching. We should reinforce the message that masks are not primarily to protect the wearer but are used to protect those who are vulnerable to infection, along with those living with people who are vulnerable. We are working with the Students’ Union to get this message out to students.
Our members’ experience during induction events is that having masks available to students considerably increases compliance with the guidance. In some areas of the University, professional services colleagues have been asked to distribute masks to students on arrival. In most areas of the University there are supplies of masks available to distribute or direct students towards. We suggest that you make these available at the entrances of any teaching rooms you are using.
The supply and distribution of masks is being rolled out at College or School level, so please check local guidance on obtaining supplies. If you have not been provided with guidance, please contact your departmental UCU reps or email UCU’s health and safety officers: Sally Horrocks (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Mike Mulheran (email@example.com).
Here is a PowerPoint slide regarding mask wearing and safety more generally, which you should show before teaching.
We remind our members, provided they are employees of the University, of their rights under Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act (1996). You are protected from detriment if you “leave” or “refuse to return to” your place of work because you are in circumstances of “danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent”, and which you cannot avert.
Further advice is available here.
If you have any further concerns about health and safety, please raise them either speak with your departmental UCU rep or email LUCU’s health and safety officers: Sally Horrocks (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Mike Mulheran (email@example.com).
You are welcome to share this advice with colleagues who are not in the UCU. If that is the case, please urge that they join and help us to build a safer and better working environment.