I am writing to you all with a further update on news from across the FD over the last few weeks.
You will have seen that the University has now defined what the academic year will look like for students. From September undergraduate students can expect to receive a hybrid mix of teaching, both online and face-to-face. For many postgraduates it is expected that they will wish to defer their start dates until January. The implications of this are complex and many questions are still being worked through, including how we control large numbers of students on campus, what extra-curricular activity can students expect and how we manage residential accommodation.
The research community at Leeds are keen to start using their labs and a priority list of buildings is currently being worked through to enable activity to start as soon as all of the necessary building checks and health and safety measures are put into place.
You will have seen the recent updates on health and safety messages sent to all staff from Roger Gair (University Secretary), in which he provided further information on some of the additional measures being undertaken to provide a safe environment for staff and students who are returning to campus. You can view this update and more at https://coronavirus.leeds.ac.uk
Colleagues across all service areas in the FD are working incredibly hard to support the re-opening of campus and more details of the huge amount of work that each service area is involved in can be viewed below in this bulletin. Once again, in this ever-changing environment, I’d like to thank you all for your ongoing commitment and flexibility to support the varying demands and work across the Facilities Directorate.
Director of Campus Development, Facilities Directorate
Maintaining a safe campus environment
Cleaning Services are delivering their comprehensive Cleaning Plan as part of buildings reopening. The team are carrying out a thorough clean of campus facilities in line with the senior management plan of building opening schedules. Cleaning methods, equipment, cleaning and sanitising products are being investigated and reviewed where necessary to facilitate any changes required for the future, Public Health England guidelines and industry best practice are all being taken into consideration in decision making.
The focus for Cleaning Services will be on using methods and best practice to assist in the control of infection. However, to reduce cross-contamination for everyone – effective hand washing remains one of the simplest and important factors to control the risk of infection.
Cleaning Services continue to provide essential services to the Dental Hospital and to key areas of research across campus. In addition, the team is also helping with waste management and pest control across campus, as well as assisting Estates in their work. These activities being undertaken by Cleaning Services are crucial to maintaining a safe environment on campus.
Within Estate Services, the Operations team have over 65 staff who are regularly attending University sites at various times to support both planned and reactive maintenance activities and for the monitoring of development activity. This includes over 15 different tasks, with many people redeployed to support compliance activities such as water hygiene works. They are also keeping the buildings safe and secure for people to attend when carrying out essential activity, with water systems, fire alarms, emergency lighting and lifts being just a few of the assets being maintained and inspected. Over the course of the next few weeks there are three major projects still on site and the Engineering team are maintaining a quality and technical requirement monitoring programme to ensure the finished product delivers the very highest standards. A team of project managers from the Design Team are supporting the re-opening of buildings, from re-designing the internal layout to meet social distancing guidelines, to supporting Schools and Faculties in correctly interpreting the health and safety guidance when re-opening the buildings.
Alongside a small team of volunteers including colleagues from Sustainability, the Energy team have been carrying out a campus audit; carefully switching off lights and any non-essential equipment that was left operating due to the speed of shutdown across the University. This has proved valuable not just from a physical isolation perspective but also to understand some of the behavioural activity, such as using localised heating appliances.
The remainder of the Operations team continues to work from home, supporting compliance activity, reactive maintenance provision and planning for the works that will be required to bring the campus back to use.
Whilst a high percentage of campus development projects remain on hold for the indefinite future, the team have been trying to mobilise projects based on contracts and urgency of completion. This includes the Clothworkers refurbishment and plans to progress the completion of Levels 4 and 9 of the Faculty of Biological Sciences refurbishment. Several asbestos works to buildings across campus have also been taking place.
All staff and contractors are strictly adhering to Public Health England/Government guidelines on Covid 19.
The Planon project team are moving into Phase 2 of the project. Many colleagues will be involved in the work to configure the system to help deliver an improved service to our customers. Next steps involve the project team working on the building blocks for Phase 2, specifically the Helpdesk, Reactive Maintenance and the customer journey. Each area needs to be broken down and understood so that the processes can be mapped into Planon, ensuring essential steps are included but also taking the opportunity to eliminate tasks that are no longer required or can be done more effectively.
Sustainable Travel and Webinars
The Sustainability Service are leading the travel to campus planning activity, working closely with the Car Parking team to devise short-term support for parking and also working in collaboration with Leeds City Council to provide safe, sustainable travel options for when staff and students return to campus. This work includes some exciting plans for temporary cycle routes across the city to encourage more people to commute actively, and supporting others walking or running to campus.
For all information about travelling to campus take a look at the commuting to campus webpage.
Over the past month the Sustainability team has embraced our new ways of working to continue hosting their sustainability community events as webinars. These events take place each month and are based around different topics for staff across the University who are working on, or interested in, sustainability activities at Leeds. The most recent topics have included single-use plastic and campus biodiversity. Both webinars have been hugely popular and gained fantastic feedback from staff. The upcoming webinars include travel, a sustainable curriculum, social sustainability and climate.
During July the annual Sustainability Awards took place digitally. The awards celebrated the sustainable achievements of students and staff at the university and the full list of winners and highly commended can be seen on the Sustainability Awards webpage. Congratulations to Great Food at Leeds, Cleaning Services and Purchasing colleagues who were all highly commended in a number of categories for the fantastic work they do.
Project Management Office
The Project Management Office team are working on several long-term improvement projects with teams throughout the FD including the Parking Team, the Print Copy Bureau, Development and the Security Team. The team have also been supporting the work to reopen the University through coordinating activities and working with teams to develop robust processes. Following on from the significant changes that have taken place over the last few months, the team will be supporting new improvements that will help the FD to adapt.
Supporting our people and practices
The HR team is working remotely to provide support for staff across the FD. HR has been supporting services where staff have been identified as essential workers, ensuring the necessary “essential worker” letters are issued and that appropriate pay arrangements put in place for these staff.
For staff who are not required on campus at the moment, and cannot work from home, HR has been coordinating the Furlough Leave arrangements, including making telephone calls to each member of staff individually to explain the process. For staff at the University who are placed on furlough leave there is no reduction in pay and no change to terms and conditions, but it does allow us to claim back 80% of salary costs from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will assist with our longer-term financial position. There are now circa 550 staff on Furlough Leave, including the majority of Cleaning Services, SPA and Catering staff, as well as smaller numbers from other areas of FD. These Furloughing arrangements are being kept under review to ensure we have the right levels of staff available to us as and when needed.
HR has also been working closely with payroll colleagues to ensure staff in FD who are normally paid via timesheets, continue to be paid during the closure period by determining averaged hours payments. This process has proved more complicated than first expected and we are grateful to staff who have been patient whilst these issues are resolved.
HR continues to provide support and advice to managers and staff on a range of issues and this has included giving clear advice that we are all expected to take our normal, full annual leave entitlement during this leave year. This does mean that all staff should ensure they plan the dates they will be on leave between now and the end of September and agree this with their manager.
With support from the FD Marketing and Communications team a text messaging arrangement has been set up to keep in regular contact with staff who do not use a work email. There is a great deal of information being provided to staff electronically; and for staff that do not access email as part of their normal working arrangements it could mean they are missing out. Regular text messages go to staff to sign post them to information on our websites, including all of the University staff e-newsletter updates. We are also in the process of sending information by post to staff who have no access at all to IT.
The University cares about your health and wellbeing
The continuation of remote working may cause anxiety and other issues for some colleagues and we will aim to continue to provide as much support as we can at this time. Please remember that colleagues in the Occupational Health and University Counselling Services are available to help you, and you do not need a formal referral to speak to them. In addition, do speak to your line manager who will also try to find ways to help you at this time.
Occupational Health and Staff Counselling services are both available to support all staff. Please make personal contact with them if you need practical help with personal issues or support at work, advice or someone to talk to. Both services are confidential – Staff Counselling – Monday to Friday. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Occupational Health – Tel 0113 343369 or 0113 343 2997 Ext 32997 or email email@example.com
Health and Safety Policy consultation
Have your say about the University’s updated Health and Safety Policy and see how the responsibilities affect you. Feedback can be submitted until Monday 20 July
Connecting with our residents and community
Approximately 23% of University owned residences are occupied and the Service continues to operate through the commitment of the team and colleagues from other parts of the FD – thank you all! Virtual activities have been developed for residents which include online puzzles, creating music playlists and even a virtual art competition. If you have any inspirational ideas of other fun virtual activities that could be run in the future, please let the team know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Halls Awards, an annual celebration of the incredible students who have contributed to the Halls community, took place in May. The virtual event celebrated student volunteers and Subwarden teams across all residences. You can view the video of the event on the Residence Life Facebook page .
The Residences team continues to focus on cleaning vacant rooms in University owned residences. This essential service is delivered with site teams and volunteers from other departments disposing of rubbish, cleaning utensils and ensuring that when students do return, the environment is a safe and pleasant one. As part of this work over 200kg of food left in Devonshire Hall has been donated to the Horsforth Food Hub. The Hub has recently been delivering food parcels to people in the local community who are shielding or isolating.
Following updated government guidance, Residential Services began operating a pre-booked appointment only belongings collection process for residents at the start of June. Residences have been clearly marked out with social distancing signage and through the appointment booking system the numbers of residents collecting their belongings on a site at any one time has been kept to a safe and manageable level. Most students have now collected their belongings and cleared their rooms, and the team has been following up with those who haven’t to see if any support is needed.
Site teams remain busy with compliance work – legionella water outlet flushing, weekly fire sounder tests amongst various audits. The challenge to ensure not a moment is wasted is being relished to clean, maintain and prepare vacant rooms for their next occupants. Work is also ongoing to ensure that when students arrive in September it is an environment they can find both enjoyable and safe. Extra cleaning of key areas around residences will be performed, with hand sanitiser also made widely available. A staggered and contactless arrival process is being developed, alongside new welcome and induction events, and enhanced support from the Residence Life team.
The FD Marketing, Sales and Communications team have continued to support the work of all service areas across the FD. In partnership with central communications colleagues and other key services such as the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service, the team has developed guidance to support the re-opening of campus buildings, this includes new wayfinding, social distancing signage and communications to support teams to safely re-open buildings and contributing to the overall message to ensure all staff and students feel informed and safe when returning to campus. The team are also managing the communications surrounding building reopening plans and are regularly updating the building reopening page on the University’s coronavirus website.
The team have supported the development of the University Virtual Open Day, which has been a monumental collaborative effort with colleagues from Central Marketing and Central Communications. The open day can now be viewed and has live events running from the 29th June https://virtualopenday.leeds.ac.uk/
Work on the FD website accessibility compliance continues, together with the construction of the new Sustainability website.
Keeping campus safe and coordinating access
Since the lockdown started the Security Services have continued to provide a 24/7 presence on campus. To ensure the safety of those staff and students still working or in residences, they are deploying more high visibility patrols around University property. This has had a significant effect on crime reduction with several criminal offenders apprehended. This includes the arrest of two criminals for attempted burglary at the Garstang Building. An investigation by Security revealed they had been involved in several other crimes on campus. They have now been charged and the investigation has been handed over to the police for further enquiries.
Security have also played a vital role in coordinating access and the continued running of essential services across the University. This has included carefully managing the number of people on campus at any one time so that social distancing can be maintained whilst still allowing for contractors and Estates to access buildings for maintenance and other works.
One example of this involved Security arranging access to the cold storage facilities in the Psychology Building. This enabled an organisation working with Leeds City Council to safely store leftover food from restaurants before it was distributed to those in need across the city.
Mark Bownass, Deputy Head of Security, said, “All of the Security staff have worked incredibly hard during a challenging time to reduce crime, keep campus safe and secure and manage essential access to the University estate. Thanks to the whole team for their dedication.”
Food for thought
The Great Food at Leeds (GFAL) team continue to work hard in providing food and drink to staff and students on campus.
The Refectory is open 9am-2pm each day, Monday to Friday, for a takeaway service only with social distancing measures in place to ensure safety.
Work continues on the Sir William Henry Bragg building café project and the GFAL team, together with the FD Marketing and Communications team delivered a virtual interactive workshop with key stakeholders to devise a brand name for the new café.
GFAL are also looking at innovative new ways to embrace new trends and increase value for money perception for customers including increasing the style of takeaway offers at The Refectory, including chilled ‘ready meals’ to go and new improved food bundle plans.
Active and Healthy experiences for all
Sport and Physical Activity (SPA) continues to support the University and local community to keep active and healthy by using the popular Your Home, Your Move workout hub.
The annual Balancing Life survey took place in June, and this year focused on a snapshot of four weeks during lockdown, in order to gain valuable insight of how staff and students have been dealing with this current unique and difficult situation. We will shortly be sharing results from the survey on our balancing life webpage.
The annual Sports Colours Awards evening was delivered in collaboration with LUU virtually via the Leeds Sport Instagram in May with over 1,000 people tuning in to celebrate student sporting achievements from across the year.
In early May, the Football Foundation confirmed the awarding of £4.2m grant to support the Parklife Project at Bodington site and have deferred the conditions of the grant for twelve months due to the pandemic. Having already received planning permission, work will focus on planning the development which includes provision of new 3G pitches and pavilion for football.
SPA has continued to deliver online teaching to students, including supporting members of the volunteering programme, LEED modules and performance athletes. To date 144 applications to the 2020/21 volunteering programme have been received and over 26 coach scholars awarded, the most the Service has ever had.
The Operations Team continue to perform regular on-site essential checks whilst working with colleagues from across campus to coordinate maintenance of the facilities.
Although several of the SPA team have been furloughed, work continues across many projects in the Service, with staff available to answer customer queries and concerns. The team are also working with Leeds City Council to bid to host pre-games training camps for counties due to participate in the Commonwealth Games 2022, due to be held in Birmingham in two years’ time.
SPA continue to work towards a reopening date of the 7th September for The Edge and will aim to provide some access to outdoor facilities at Sports Park Weetwood and Bodington for the new academic year. Some professional sports teams and athlete training has started again, Halifax Town FC and British Triathlon are now training at Bodington and YCCC cricket have also started training again at Sports Park Weetwood.
MEETinLEEDS have worked in collaboration with the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies to host a virtual version of the 4th Arabic Linguistics Forum on the new University of Leeds Event App. The virtual forum was comprised of 5 keynote lectures, 60 presentations and 10 Q&A sessions. The format is a mixture of pre-recorded videos made available on YouTube and live sessions hosted on Blackboard Collaborate. The Q&A sessions offer an opportunity for live interaction and discussion on the pre-recorded content
Bringing together medievalists from over 60 different countries ranging from Canada to Australia, this year’s virtual International Medieval Congress (IMC) took place over a digital forum and brought together an international community of scholars keen to participate in cutting-edge research in the field. The event featured over 500 speakers, and included a wide array of individual papers, roundtable discussions with medieval experts from all over the world, and even a virtual disco. Featuring two keynote speakers; one from Spain and another from Korea, as well as keynote presentations covering vital new research in medieval studies by prominent academics, the IMC covered all aspects of Medieval Studies via the new event app.
An ‘Ask the Expert’ blog series has been launched across the MEETinLEEDS channels and will provide information on how the conferencing industry is adapting to the current situation.
MEETinLEEDS exhibited at the first virtual exhibition for MEETGB. It was a virtual showcase for organisers of international events to discover the possibilities available across the UK. The team exhibited to North America and Europe over a two-day showcase.
Cloth Hall Court has been named as one of ten emergency venues across England to act as a ‘Nightingale Court’ to open to help the justice system cope with a backlog of cases that have built up during the lockdown.
Developing innovative printing and ordering solutions
PCB are managing the orders for all social distancing signage needed on campus which are being requested through the Health and Safety Managers responsible for each building reopening. More products continue to be added to the catalogue as the social distancing measures evolve and more is learned about the needs of specific buildings.
The dedicated Student Store, has been well used during the lock down and PCB’s online help desk is also now up and running successfully supporting staff and students with their queries for the print and mail team.
The Finance team have been working with the Estates Project Management Office and HR colleagues to automate the new approval processes for all (staff and non-staff) new expenditure commitments above £5k. Thanks go to Joel Middleton and Anne-Marie Martin for their contributions and for support from Jo Sheen and Roona Ohwoisi-Swinton to help combine this into the University staffing approval processes (ATR process). This should provide a slicker, more efficient process, which will stand the FD in good stead immediately, but also if the University policy continues for any period into the future. Although it has been extensively tested there may be some teething problems. A new MS Teams site has been set up to store materials to support this process. Please let Robert Dewar or Maggie Cooper, know if you would like access to that team site.
Following on from the submission of the FD’s 5-year financial plan in late April, we have been analysing risks and mitigations arising from the COVID -19 situation. This work will continue with future iterations and will align to the work taking place regarding the campus re-entry.