We understand there’s a lot of confusion about what’s happening on our campuses in regards to coronavirus. Both yesterday and today, emails have been sent from the Principal about the virus and what is happening with the University. We just wanted to clarify some information for you and the position of the Students’ Union.
The University has been preparing for potential scenarios of what would happen if a positive case of coronavirus was found on one of our campuses or if all of our campuses need to be shut down. Rest assured that the University is looking at all of these scenarios and has plans in place for what to do if one were to become reality. We also want to reassure you that you would be informed as soon as possible, will be given instructions on what to do next and be informed on how your teaching and assessments would be taken forward digitally, if necessary.
The University is following the advice of the government and Public Health England in the meantime. This means the University has decided that all of our campuses will remain open and teaching should continue as normal for Home students until March 23rd.
We, as a Students’ Union however, feel that this is not a good enough response from either the government or the University. From looking at data available on previous epidemics, it is clear that the earlier social distancing measures are put in place, the lower the number of cases. The government have refused to do this. Other Universities, such as LSE & Durham, have already decided to close down their campuses.
We are thus lobbying the University to close all of our campuses immediately and to prioritise both the education and welfare of students and staff. We would also ask them to release all students who are immunocompromised or living with vulnerable people to be able to stay at home in order to protect them in the meantime.
The Students’ Union
We as a Students’ Union have decided to put a number of provisions in place for our Student Groups and Staff. We have advised Student Groups on what to do about their events and that they should cancel all large events, we have also advised them they should strongly consider cancelling their smaller events too.
As such we have decided to take the steps to cancel or postpone all events organised by the Students’ Union e.g. Hail Mary, Tables, Merger Cup, all of our Awards Ceremonies etc. . When we are able to hold some of these events again we will contact all students. We will be refunding tickets for those who have bought them and we are working with Student Groups on getting refunds for their external events.
However, please note that our services and outlets will remain open until a decision is taken by the University to close all campuses. We will not close them before this, in order to continue providing services to students whilst they are still required to be on campus. Staff members that are not student-facing have been advised they can work from home if they wish to do so, but we have asked student-facing staff to stay and help students with any queries or questions they may have. We are also looking at how we can provide pay for our student staff who work on zero-hour contracts, in the case that they are ill or our campuses are shut down.
These decisions have not been taken lightly but we are prioritising the welfare and health of our members first before everything else and therefore feel these are prudent measures to take.
If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.
If you are worried about coronavirus please see advice from Public Health England here and from the University here.
On behalf of the Executive Team,
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Queen Mary Students’ Union