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11th May 2020 - Message from the Pro-Vice-Chancellors: planning for safe reopening of buildings

Dear colleagues

Please do not return to working onsite today as a response to the Prime Minister’s announcement last night. Unless you have been working onsite already, you should remain at home and where possible working remotely. The Buildings Task Force (BTF) is in the process of looking carefully at re-opening buildings primarily for research purposes and has prepared the appropriate protocol and guidance documents to enable a small number of buildings to begin re-opening over the next week. These documents will be issued later this week. Individual Heads of Institution will be responsible for the safe operation of designated areas within buildings as part of this programme, which will be driven by health and safety considerations. An accompanying staff protocol is in preparation.

Fundamental to the re-opening programme will be the observation of social distancing based on detailed, building-by-building, operational plans and risk analyses, and the central provision of approved PPE under the guidance of the Director of H&S. It is anticipated that a typical occupancy of no more than around 25% of that as “business as usual” will be achieved in buildings that are re-opened, although this may be little higher, subject to H&S approval, in buildings in which the appropriate and approved PPE is used. Any buildings or activities that are re-opened as part of this process will be subject to re-closure based on government direction, for example, in the case of a second wave of COVID-19 infection.

In addition to researchers, the presence of a limited number of non-research staff will be essential for running buildings and their safe operation (e.g. maintenance staff and research/workshop technicians, managers/supervisors for the non-research staff, purchasing and stores staff, security, cleaners etc.), which will require a minimum number of first aiders and fire wardens. The number of non-research staff will be minimised, however, but consistent with H&S requirements.

Staff in at-risk groups, those with family members in at-risk groups and those with caring responsibilities, should continue to follow current government guidelines around shielding and should not come into work. Staff in re-opened buildings should only come into work when they are advised specifically to do so by their Head of Institution and where they are able to travel to work safely. 

Working from home remains the default position for those who can do so.

With best wishes,

Professor David Cardwell, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and Planning)

Professor Eilis Ferran, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Institutional and International Relations)

Professor Chris Abell, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)



11th May 2020 Notice: 

Guidelines on how the University plans to restart its on-site working are well developed and the university will now wait for the govt guidance on workplace safety and then finalise our own plans.  These will be distributed as soon as is feasible this week and in the meantime working practice should remain as it is.  If you have any questions or are feeling concerned please do not hesitate to contact or your local departmental postdoc representative.


Advice from the University of Cambridge for staff and students at the University and Colleges on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here (

Key pages:



Useful working from info




Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning (CCTL)

Over the past few weeks, the CCTL has worked with academic and professional services colleagues across the collegiate University to develop practical introductions to remote undergraduate supervision, lecturing, classes and seminars and locating online readings. These introductions address both educational and technical questions. They include detailed guidance on matters including accessibility for students with disabilities and neurodiverse profiles, and on how to guide inclusive discussions online. These introductions have now been published on CCTL's website. They are works in progress, and feedback is welcome (a contact address is available on the CCTL page).




Update from the Vice-Chancellor, published on 7th April 2020, section regarding staff:

Staff – Contract Extension

We have said before that all staff would continue to be paid throughout the emergency. Particular and understandable concern has been expressed by employees and workers whose contracts are coming to an end within the next few months, and who are therefore faced with uncertainty or financial hardship.

The University Council yesterday approved a scheme to support individuals whose employment contracts and assignments ended, or are due to end, between 16 March 2020 and 31 July 2020. The Contracts Extension Scheme will support individuals who can continue their existing work by extending their contracts or assignments, on the same terms, until 31 July 2020. For individuals who cannot continue with their existing work, the University will try to find alternative work, on the same terms as their existing arrangements, until 31 July 2020. Where neither is possible, individuals will be offered a payment, which for most people will be equivalent to their usual monthly salary, until the end of July.

The scheme will be reviewed before the end of June to assess how it is working, and whether it should be extended or altered. Any changes will be put to the Council for approval. Our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations, Professor Eilís Ferran, will be writing to all Heads of Institution later today to provide further detailed guidance on the scheme.

It is important to note that the Contracts Extension Scheme is separate from the Government Furlough Scheme, designed to support employers who cannot maintain their current workforce because their operations have been severely affected by Coronavirus. Under both schemes the University will need to consider whether staff can be redeployed into alternative roles. Later this week, Professor Ferran will be asking for Institutions’ help in identifying staff who might be eligible for the Furlough Scheme.