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Coronavirus: FAQs for staff [Updated 26/3]

TLDRoffon

We will update this page regularly, please continue to check for updated information.

These FAQs relate to staff-specific information, for our more general and student FAQs please see the separate page.  If your question isn't covered here, then please get in touch by emailing Internal Communications.

Staff can also use the 'Our virtual campus' link on the portal home page to view all articles with details and updates to the Coronavirus and operating as a virtual campus.

What support is available to me? [Updated 26/3]

If you have any concerns or would like to access support, the university's Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is available for you to use.  

Due to the current Coronavirus situation, if your request is not of an urgent nature, CiC have asked you contact them by emailing assist@cic-eap.co.uk including the following information: name, organisation, contact phone number, the best time to receive a return call (preferably with a two-hour window) and a brief sentence on the reason for getting in touch.‚Äč CiC have confirmed that counselling sessions will be delivered by way of Skype (or other online mechanisms) and telephone only. They have taken the decision to remove face to face structured counselling from their offering until further notice to ensure that they comply with government guidance. Their advisors will inform callers of this where applicable.

Where can I find more information about resources to help me with online teaching? [Added 23/3]

Greenwich Learning & Teaching has created a Moodle site: Learning & Teaching Support-NB0990-2019-20 – just self-enrol to access the resources.

How do I support students online? [Added 23/3]

Colleagues can join the GLT-facilitated Teams site: 'Supporting Learners online (COVID-19)' for their faculty.

To get advice from GLT, head to their Moodle site Learning & Teaching Support-NB0990-2019-20 and use the Q&A chat feature to share your questions. Or you can contact GLT-admin@gre.ac.uk  to arrange individual support at a convenient time.

How can I ensure that I am following good DSE health and safety advice? [Added 23/3]

When temporarily working at home on a computer and/or laptop, it is recognised that it may not be possible to apply the full requirements of the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations. However, it is worth taking a few minutes to set yourself up well for comfort and safety at the start of your working session. Where possible, please follow this guidance from the university's Health and Safety Unit to improve your home workstation set up.

Please remember to take frequent rest breaks from your work, including walking away from your workstation regularly.

Why are blanket extensions not being given? [Added 23/3]

Blanket extensions only push the problem into the future.  Given the rate of spread of Covid-19, it is likely that many more students and staff will be affected if we move the submissions by two or more weeks; therefore, it is in everyone's interest to move as few assessments as possible.

In exceptional circumstances, such as if an assessment requires specialist software or has had to be modified, we have agreed some extensions. We are hoping to limit this so that students can finish their year on time and also to prevent any assessment and marking 'bunching', where students may have to submit more than one assessment at a similar time.

How is the university going to deal with situations where the impact of Covid-19 and the strike have affected students' ability to complete work on time, or to the standard which they are capable? [Added 23/3]

Extenuating Circumstances  

The university has agreed a relaxation of some of the requirements for evidence in response to the Covid-19 situation, which has been agreed by all faculties. Information for staff and students will be provided on the Coronavirus updates page and elsewhere.

Technical Extenuation

The university has an agreed set of principles that we will be using to ensure students affected by the strike or Covid-19 will not be disadvantaged.  We have all agreed on the same approach for how this will be applied, and how each outcome will be recorded through the formal processes and committees within the university, to ensure transparency. 

We will be considering the grades of students very carefully to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by this disruption. This includes analysing and benchmarking grades against those of previous students. If there are significant differences, we will make appropriate adjustments to the marks/grades.

WBL and practical work that cannot be completed: please discuss the impact on LOs with your DLT and HoS/Subject Lead who will work with you to an appropriate solution.

What does moving exams online look like? [Added 23/3]

So far as is possible, the university's aim is to keep the assessments unchanged (i.e. keep the exam papers that have been approved by External Examiners) however, the format of the exam may change. The format will depend on the subject, level of study, nature of the assessment and whether there are PSRB requirements.

Exams originally scheduled to be open book / 'seen' exams:

The papers will be released through Moodle on the planned date and submitted on the originally planned date of the exam, but through Turnitin (no change to the assessment anticipated)

Exams originally scheduled to be delivered as traditional unseen exams:

We are currently identifying alternative ways for the completion of exams. In most cases, we are expecting to provide students with a take-home exam. The outcome of these discussions will be released during week commencing 30 March 2020.  The two options will be:

1) Formal 'Unseen' exams:

These will be conducted as a 'take home' exam, giving students five working days to complete the paper.  Papers will be released through Moodle on the original planned exam date and students will submit 5 working days later by uploading their 'exam script' through Moodle (no change to the assessment required).  A late link for submission will remain open for two extra hours so that students with IT problems can still submit and apply for ECs.

2) Formal 'Unseen' exams with PSRB/Technical requirements:

These exams will be undertaken online in a time-constrained manner.  Papers will be released through Moodle at the planned date and time and students will be given the time allowed for the exam plus one additional hour to account for rest breaks and uploading their 'exam script' through Moodle. A late link for submission will remain open for two extra hours so that students with IT problems can still submit and apply for ECs.

It should be noted that we have been working with the professional bodies since the middle of March and in the majority of cases they have agreed with our approach.  Where confirmation has not yet been agreed we are working with other universities to gain an agreed approach.

How do I set up an online exam? [Added 23/3]

The set up for an online exam will be managed centrally by each faculty in collaboration with Exam Timetabling and Student Wellbeing.  We will attempt to minimise additional administration for individual academic staff.

Will I be able to reclaim the cost of a cancelled international travel booking from the university's insurance? [Added 18/3]

If it is work-related travel, it may be possible to reclaim costs from the airline or the university's insurers in some situations:
* If the airline has cancelled your flights:
o Speak to the airline, which will either refund or rearrange your flight.
o Email insurance@gre.ac.uk to request a form to make a claim for your other unavoidable cancellation costs.
o Take all reasonable steps to reduce the cost of cancellation, including actions such as cancelling accommodation before the full cost becomes payable, and delaying your travel if a flexible fare was purchased.
* If your travel is cancelled because the border is closed to international travel, or if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against travel after you made the booking:
o Email insurance@gre.ac.uk to request a form to make a claim for unavoidable cancellation costs.
o You should also take all reasonable steps to reduce the cost of cancellation, including actions such as cancelling accommodation before the full cost becomes payable, and delaying your travel if a flexible fare was purchased.
* If the meeting or event you were due to attend is cancelled:
o Email insurance@gre.ac.uk to request a form to make a claim for unavoidable cancellation costs.
o You should also take all reasonable steps to reduce the cost of cancellation, including actions such as cancelling accommodation before the full cost becomes payable, and delaying your travel if a flexible fare was purchased.
* Where none of the above applies and the university has cancelled your travel or you do not wish to travel:
o Discuss with your line manager.
o We have been advised that our travel insurer is unlikely to cover cancellation costs in these circumstances but please email insurance@gre.ac.uk in any case, with brief details of the travel being cancelled, and we will consider whether to make a claim.
o In light of the above, make all reasonable efforts to reduce the cost of cancellation, including actions such as cancelling accommodation before the full cost becomes payable, and delaying your travel if a flexible fare was purchased.

I am already overseas on university business – what if I start to feel unwell, and/or I am placed under quarantine while travelling? [Added 18/3]

  • Contact your line manager immediately to inform them of what has happened, so that we can plan to support you.
  • Rest assured that, if a doctor diagnoses you with COVID-19, our travel insurance will treat it like any other illness.
  • Contact our insurer's Emergency Travel Assistance team, who will advise you on how to obtain support and assistance for medical issues, trip interruption and/or curtailment.
  • The Emergency Travel Assistance contact number is (+44) (0) 1273 552 922 and our policy number is 0010627866.  Further details are available on the Portal.

I'm working from home what DSE advice should I follow? [Added 18/3]

When temporarily working at home on a computer and/or laptop, it is recognised that it may not be possible to apply the full requirements of the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations. However, it is worth taking a few minutes to set yourself up well for comfort and safety at the start of your working session. Where possible, please follow these steps to improve your home workstation set up.

Please remember to take frequent rest breaks from your work, including walking away from your workstation regularly.

I'm due to travel on business soon, what should I do? [Updated 13/3]

The university has now taken the decision to stop all international travel until further notice.

If you have a booked trip coming up in the next few weeks please discuss its cancellation with your line manager. In addition, only essential domestic travel should take place and all plans should be discussed with your line manager in advance to agree if travel is necessary (travel to work or between the university's campuses is excluded from this).

If an employee gets Coronavirus, how should it be reported/recorded? [Updated 25/3]

Employees should follow the normal sickness absence reporting process i.e. they must tell their manager as soon as possible if they cannot work following the university's Managing Attendance and Wellbeing Policy and Procedures. Employees can 'self-certify' for the first seven days off work. For absences of eight days or longer staff with suspected Coronavirus who self-isolate should get an online self-isolation note from the:

Managers should ask the employee for consent to inform other people where necessary (e.g. colleagues, students) of a potential case of Coronavirus. Managers should not disclose the medical condition of an individual without first taking advice from HR.

I am concerned about catching Coronavirus but I am not in a group advised to self-isolate? [Updated 19/3]

The advice around self-isolation and not being in public spaces, including public transport has changed a lot. Please make sure you follow the up to date advice.

Managers should seek advice from their HR representatives.

If I self-isolate but I'm not unwell, how should I let the university know?

You must contact your line-manager and inform them that you are self-isolating and the reason for your self-isolation. You should follow the normal sickness absence reporting process i.e. you must tell your manager as soon as possible if they cannot attend work following the university's Managing Attendance and Wellbeing Policy and Procedures. Line managers should report instances of self-isolation to their sickness administrator indicating whether the person is working from home whilst self-isolating (see question 9).

You must keep in contact with your line-manager during a period of self-isolation.

Manager should ask the employee for consent to inform other people where necessary (e.g. colleagues, students) of a potential case of Coronavirus. Managers should not disclose the medical condition of an individual without first taking advice from HR.

If I need to self-isolate but I am not unwell, how should I report this, how will this be recorded and can I work from home? [Updated 25/3]

If based on advice issued by government, you need to self-isolate but are not unwell, you must contact your line-manager and inform them that you are self-isolating and the reason for your self-isolation. You should follow the normal sickness absence reporting process i.e. you must tell your manager as soon as possible if you cannot attend work following the university's Managing Attendance and Wellbeing Policy and Procedures.

Employees who self-isolate and are well enough to do so, should work from home where this is possible. You should discuss the arrangements for working from home with your line-manager. Where this is the case, the university does not require any further proof (e.g. self-isolation note). You must keep in contact with your line-manager during a period of self-isolation.

If you self-isolate and your work cannot be undertaken at home, you should discuss this with your line-manager. In some cases, you may be asked to undertake alternative duties from home.

If you self-isolate and your work cannot be undertaken at home, the period of self-isolation will be recorded as sickness absence. Self-isolation will not count towards the university's absence triggers. You can 'self-certify' for the first seven days off work. For absences of eight days or longer because of Coronavirus, you should get an online self-isolation note from the:

Managers should ask the employee for consent to inform other people where necessary (e.g. colleagues, students) of a potential case of Coronavirus. Managers should not disclose the medical condition of an individual without first taking advice from HR.

If I self-isolate will I be paid?

The university's usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply to employees who are unwell due to Coronavirus.

If you have a genuine reason for self-isolation (but are not unwell due to Coronavirus), and you have informed your manager, a period of self-isolation of up to 14 days will be paid. Payment for a longer or further period of self-isolation (where you are not unwell) will be at the discretion of the university. This will not come out of your contractual sick pay entitlement.

Do I need a fit note (doctor's note) to self-isolate? [Updated 25/3]

To prevent the spread of infection, the university does not require staff who are required to self-isolate to produce a fit note. Staff who need to self-isolate can should get an online self-isolation note from the:

What if I need time off work to look after someone? [Updated 25/3]

Employees who need to look after someone and are well enough to do so, should work from home where this is possible. You should discuss the arrangements for working from home with your line-manager.

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency as set out in the university's Special Leave Guidance. This would apply to situations to do with Coronavirus. For example:

  • If an employee has children, they may need to look after or arrange childcare for them because their school has closed.
  • Where an employee needs to help their child or another dependant if they're sick or need to go into isolation or hospital.

What if an interview candidate cannot travel to the UK?

The university will make appropriate efforts to accommodate the interview by Skype and to replicate the interview process.

What happens regarding annual leave and carry over?

As far as possible, the university's normal arrangements for booking and carrying over annual leave will apply.

When considering whether to approve leave, managers must (as usual) take into account service needs, including any exceptional requirements which may arise from COVID-19.

If an employee is prevented from taking holiday due to Coronavirus, the provisions in the university's Managing Attendance and Wellbeing Policy and Procedure will apply.