Dr Ian Pickup, Chief Operating Officer at the University of East London, shares his thoughts about returning to campus and keeping the community safe.
"This year has not been one any of us could have predicted or any of us would have wanted. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to plan for a new world, where ways of working, studying and living are completely different to those we had previously become accustomed to.
As the University of East London re-opens its doors, our first priority is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students, staff and visitors.
We have implemented comprehensive measures to protect our community. We were the first University to pilot the NHS Track and Trace app, we have our own contact tracing systems, and we have created COVID-secure buildings and protocols for staff and student behaviour. We are currently developing plans for an on-campus test centre.
We have been working closely with Newham Public Health to ensure that our plans are robust and have worked collaboratively in the creation of our Infection Response Plan. We are also working with Newham Borough Council to include UEL staff and students as Community Health Champions and will deploy ambassadors across our campus locations to remind everyone about the key actions that we must all take to be safe.
For students, our Dual Delivery Educational Framework provides opportunities to study online or on campus. We are committed to maintaining our emphasis on careers focused learning, while increasing flexibility and enhancing levels of personalised support.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have been working to fight the pandemic. We have been involved in research, advising on policy decisions, training healthcare workers and taking proactive steps to prevent and reduce transmission. We also offered accommodation for key workers and supported efforts to mobilise the NHS Nightingale hospital at the nearby Excel Centre.
For more than 100 years the University of East London has directly served the needs of the East London community, upskilling the local population, undertaking cutting-edge, impactful, industry-relevant research and driving innovation and business growth. We are confident that this won't change.
We will continue to serve staff, students and the local community - during and well beyond the present global crisis."
This article was first published by the Newham Recorder.