Last updated 10th September 2020 
Included updated Covid Code for new government restrictions on gatherings
31th August 2020:
Included latest emails from the Principal.
27th August 2020:
Updated most information on the page to align with current expectations and guidance.
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Coronavirus Information

Introduction

This is our guide to help students prepare for arriving in St Andrews. In this guide we hope to help you adjust to the new environment whilst following physical distancing measures. In addition to reading this guide please make yourself familiar with the university’s coronavirus guidance at st-andrews.ac.uk/coronavirus. As more plans are confirmed or the situation changes, the University will update the guidance on their pages and we will update this guide.

We know that this guide won’t answer every question, but we hope that it begins to paint a picture of what you can expect in September. The safety of both students and the town's population is our top priority, but we are working hard to find creative ways to and make sure we provide a fantastic St Andrews experience in a way that protects everybody.

Quick Links

If your question is not answered on this page, contact president@.

1. What to expect: The Students' Association

  • Physical distancing
    • Current government guidelines specify that people from different households should remain 2 metres apart. This is limited to 1 metre in some specific settings such as hospitality.
    • Physical distancing will reduce the capacities of most places including the Union meaning we are reshaping how we work. Ticketing for events / bookings is the new normal.
  • Adapted food and drink service
    • Our bars and cafes may have to change the way they operate. In order to protect both our staff and our customers, you may be asked to do things like queue outside to be assigned a table and there will protective screens at all counters.
    • All of our staff members will be wearing face coverings in line with University and Government guidance and we will have to insist that all building users use face coverings when moving around the bars / cafes.
    • In order to help keep our staff and customers safe, we will not be taking cash payment for the foreseeable future, but we will continue to keep you updated if there are changes to this. We will ask customers – where possible - to use our preferred option of card or to install Yoyo, our cashless loyalty app.
  • Movement within the Union
    • The Union has one-way systems in place. This will mean restricted entry for certain areas, and navigating around the building will take slightly longer.
    • There will be new signage and 2 metre markings explaining the current movement rules. Make sure you pause to take note of these whenever entering the building – they may change throughout the semester, as we learn more about crowd flow, start to reopen spaces, and follow changing government guidelines.
    • Contact details will be required for those wishing to enter the building as part of contact tracing systems.
    • Hand sanitiser will be readily available near doors / lift buttons so you can keep your hands clean when having to touch hard surfaces.
  • Repurposed spaces
    • At its heart, University life is about education and with lecture theatres of 500 seats being cut to less than 100 capacity, we are offering some of our spaces to the University to be used for teaching. The University will be using the StAge, large rehearsal room, and small rehearsal room for teaching from 14th September. This arrangement will be in place only for as long as it is required.
    • Most of the building spaces will be unavailable during teaching, but we are hoping to make use of them in the evenings and at weekends as we continue to open up the building.
    • The middle floor is currently reserved for staff, and will likely remain unopen to students.
    • The top floor may be available to students once it opens. Spaces such as Beacon Bar may be adapted as bookable study space during the day. Society rooms may be repurposed due to only being able to hold 1 or 2 people.
  • Scaled-down night-time activities
    • Bars will still be limited to table service at night. We are unlikely to allow dancing, nor movement between groups. Any organised events are likely to be ticketed, even if free.
    • The building is likely to have reduced opening hours. These will be advertised once opening hours are confirmed.
  • More frequent cleaning
    • All spaces will be cleaned every morning; particularly busy spaces may be cleaned throughout the day. The repurposed teaching spaces will be cleaned every evening.
    • Spaces may need to be given time for air to ventilate between bookings.
  • Impact on commercial income
    • The vast majority of the Union's money comes from Freshers' Week events, and revenue from the cafes and bars. With a reduced capacity, decrease in students, and greatly scaled-down night-time events, there are likely to be knock-on effects. Funding for our societies and subcommittees remains secure at this time, but if restrictions continue into summer 2021, funding may be affected.
    • The University is in a similar financial position, but has confirmed that their annual grant to the Student's Association will not be affected this year. This ensures that there is minimal risk to our basic operations.
  • Virtual Society Events
    • We still have 150+ societies that you can get involved in, but for the moment their events will be mostly virtual.
    • Our Freshers Fayre will be virtual too, on Sunday 13th September.

2. What to expect: University Buildings

  • Varying rules
    • Different buildings may be functioning differently. There will be clear signage to inform you of the restrictions in each space. Make sure to keep an eye out and understand the rules of the building you are in.
  • Movement within buildings
    • Many buildings will have one-way systems in action. In places and buildings without a one-way system, using the left hand of a corridor / staircase will become even more important to maintain safety.
    • You may be required to use your matric card to gain access to more buildings.
    • You may be required to wear a face mask at all times while inside certain buildings.
  • Reduced opening hours and availability
    • Most buildings will have opening hours reduced, or be limited to staff only. Open-door policies are probably not going to be in place this year.
    • Common spaces will be affected, and may have limited capacity or even may not be in use. You may need to book spaces you want to use.
  • Teaching From the Principal's email on 31st August:
    • In-person teaching in the first two weeks of semester will now be limited to laboratory-based classes, classes in Medicine and some classes based on practical experiential learning. All other currently scheduled in-person teaching, including all small group tutorials and seminars, will be delivered online to begin with.
    • In weeks 3 to 5, we will begin to introduce more small group tutorials and seminars where the physical presence in a classroom is preferred to support the educational experience. Students and staff will be consulted on the selection of these classes as we draw up a schedule for the gradual increase of in-person learning and teaching.
    • Finally, after independent learning week, in week 7 we intend to deliver all small group tutorials, seminars and classes smaller than 35 students in person for those students who are in St Andrews.
    • We will of course only move through these stages of phasing if we are satisfied it is safe to do so.

3. Which parts of the Students' Association are open?

  • Ground Floor
    • Rectors Cafe: Open
    • Main Bar: Open
    • Sandy's: Closed
    • Blackwell's: Open (for a limited time)
    • 601 / The StAge: Closed for teaching
    • Piazza: Outside seating
  • 1st Floor: Staff Only
    • Sabb Office: Staff only
    • Staff Offices: Staff only
    • Cash Office: Staff only
    • Meeting Rooms: Staff only
    • Design Suite: Closed
    • STAR Studio : Closed
  • 2nd Floor: Opening
    • Beacon Bar: Closed
    • Rehearsal Rooms: Closed
    • Society Rooms: Closed
    • Meeting pods: Closed
  • Old Union Coffee Shop: closed until further notice
  • Barron Theatre: closed for Semester 1

4. What events are happening and what can I do?

If you are a member of a society looking for advice on running events, click here!

There is currently a ban on in-person events, and you should expect events to be held virtually.

Check out our events page to see what's happening.

Government guidance is allowing the Sports Centre to open up faster than other parts of the University.

5. FAQs

The Union building is currently only open to staff, with the exception of Rector's Cafe which reopened to all on 25th August. We hope to open up as soon as possible, but that depends on many factors including regular review by the University and changing government restrictions. Below are some loose targets for reopening but these are clearly subject to change.

  • Early August: office spaces reopen for management staff and sabbatical officers.
  • Mid-August: Rector's Cafe and the University Shop reopen.
  • Early September: Main Bar and Sandy's Bar reopen for food and drink service during the daytime. Pre-booked meeting rooms open to students, but with very limited capacity.
  • Freshers: Main Bar, Sandy's Bar, and Beacon Bar open until later in the evening, but still only with table service. 601 may be open in the daytime for small events.

Capacity is likely to be around 20% in each space but we are still calculating exact numbers and it will depend heavily on whether the government requires distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre.

Yes, but scaled down and largely virtual. More info will be posted on the Freshers 2020 page in August.

Within the Union, our biggest events are Freshers (going ahead, albeit differently), and the whole-building events like Halloween and Christmas (likely cancelled). We sadly can't postpone Halloween... or can we?

However, we hope that if Scotland continues to see low case numbers and restrictions are eased throughout the year, some larger events may start to become possible in semester 2.

Beyond the Union, most large student events like balls and fashion shows tend to happen in semester 2. Of the large events in semester 1, so far none have confirmed they are postponing to semester 2, though it remains a possibility. Most event organisers are being cautious, as there is no guarantee that mass gatherings will be allowed by summer 2021.

After discussion with the University, we felt that it would not be safe for normal Raisin Weekend activities to take place in October. For that reason, Raisin weekend will take place at the start of Spring Break on 21st/22nd March 2021. We hope that by moving Raisin to semester 2 there is a much better chance of people being able to have a more normal Raisin Weekend in a safe way than would be possible in October.

Yes! It's still "your Union", and you should be able to feel comfortable in the building. However, there will be strict limits on capacity, and some spaces may be repurposed or off-limits. For example, Beacon may be used as a study space instead of a bar, and seating in corridors may be removed. You may need to book in advance of using any space, even if you're just studying.

We are trying our best to make sure as many facilities remain open as possible, but it's a big challenge. The Design Suite may need to be converted to a staff area, and we are still working out if spaces like the multimedia suite (STAR) and techbox (Ents) can be used safely.

We will all need to be sensible and considerate, especially in shops and public areas. St Andrews has a particularly vulnerable population and if we don't follow government guidelines on things such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings, we put those people at risk. Beyond the government guidance, there may be things that we or the University encourage students to do to help protect our community. As students, we give a lot to the local community, but we rely on that community for vasty more in return. The trust between students and local people is incredibly important and we all have a responsibility to maintain that trust and keep each other safe.

This is one of the University's main priorities, and we're working with them where possible to ensure there are enough study spaces for everyone. The libraries are all planning to open, but in a reduced capacity. We are actively looking at repurposing existing areas as study spaces to compensate for the shortfall. Updates will be posted here, as will key pieces of information regarding the planned opening of essential study spaces.

Yes, but it will be virtual. This may prove to be better than a real fayre – far more people will be able to interact with a society at the same time, and it will be much easier to find what you're looking for, or maybe something you've never heard of. The virtual fayre will also be more accessible to students with disabilities.

We are preparing to use a virtual conference platform in line with other Uni departments. We are also focusing on updating society information on this website, and have requested that all societies and subcommittees film a short introduction video.

We're also working with the University to produce 2 weeks of virtual content, called 'Countdown to St Andrews', starting 24th August. This will include lots of live Q&A sessions with different societies, as well as lots of virtual society events, so there will be far more opportunities for freshers to meet societies than in a normal year.

We are making lots of plans for how we can do sport come September. We will be doing as much as possible whilst keeping in line with government and specific sports governing body guidelines.

This is very difficult to know, but we are expecting most students to arrive by September with some arriving later if there are travel restrictions in place. We expect higher numbers than usual arriving in August, due to international students having to quarantine for two weeks.

In the coming weeks, the University will be providing more information about returning to St Andrews and the things that students will need to consider at st-andrews.ac.uk/coronavirus.

This will depend on how many of last year's staff return. There will be far fewer shifts than normal, so we are unlikely to hire more than a handful of new staff. Jobs will first be offered to current staff, then current staff from other departments (for example, bar staff moving to cafes, where there are more shifts), and finally other students.

Any vacancies will be advertised on our social media, and listed at yourunion.net/union/aboutus/staff/vacancies.

We intend to share vacancies at other businesses as they appear. Local shops and restaurants may need new staff, but it is likely to be far fewer than in past years.

If you are in quarantine for 2 weeks after entering the UK, you should avoid all contact with others. Otherwise, hope that students in halls will be able to form small groups or "households" where they can socialise without physical distancing. For example, for students in DRA your flat would be your "household" and so physical distancing wouldn't apply to your flatmates.

Beyond "households", we expect that people will be able to socialise in limited numbers as long as they stick to physical distancing (currently 2 metres) though this may change in accordance with Scottish Government guidance. Students in halls will receive more guidance on this from the University before they move in.

The University's stance is to not prepare any large-scale events for the rest of the academic year, including summer 2021.

Yes, we are following the government's guidelines very closely and are aiming to open the gym as soon as possible!

Scottish Government guidance currently asks people to avoid public transport where possible. If you can get dropped off by a parent or someone else in a car that is probably the safest way to get to St Andrews. The University is also providing free transport to St Andrews for all students arriving at Edinburgh airport, Glasgow airport and Leuchars railway station. This will be available to all students arriving at one of these destinations from 24 August to 20 September 2020 inclusive.

You can find out more about this and book your transport here.

Current guidance from the Scottish government is that if you are entering the UK from a country that is not exempted will have to be in quarantine for 2 weeks, whether in halls or private accommodation. We are working with the University to create a two-week calendar of virtual content, called 'Countdown to St Andrews'. It will have lots of live elements each day, and is aimed at students arriving around the 24th August (two weeks before 7th September, when Orientation Week begins), but the content should still be there for anyone arriving later.

Our Wellbeing Committee is also working on a list of quarantine activities, similar to their virtual Wellbeing Week and the Nightline exam packs.

Yes, our 150+ societies and subcommittees will still continue to function but will have to adapt to new guidelines around physical distancing. We are encouraging societies and student groups to continue with as many events as possible but those events may have to be very different in order to be safe and some activities may not be possible. We are hoping that by joining societies you will still be able to meet people and make friends, despite physical distancing requirements.

As a student at St Andrews, you are automatically a member of every subcommittee.

The sabbatical team and societies committee are here to support and make sure that the fantastic student experience of St Andrews remains.

On January 1st we will all collectively wake up and realise that 2020 was just a terrible dream.

The less hopeful answer is that no one knows, but we will make the best of this situation for however long it lasts.

  1. Everything ends at some point.
  2. Your sabb team has been able to focus on unexpected areas – the lecture capture campaign is looking stronger than ever, physical distancing is forcing us to be even more creative about the kind of events we run, and we have found time to start improving this website.
  3. Our subcommittee AGM elections were moved online, and 11% of students voted. Compared to the handful of in-person voters in previous years, this is incredible, and a similar online system is likely to be used in the future.
  4. Got Consent has been pushing to make their workshops part of matriculation for years, and coronavirus turned out to be the final step in making that happen.
  5. Yoyo points are still useful despite the rumours that they're not. We're even doing a points giveaway on Instagram.
  6. Our St Andrews community can sometimes feel split between those who are students and those who are not. When lockdown first hit our whole community pulled together to help each other and we hope that the same will be true when we return in September.

6. List of contacts

  • Gavin, Director of Student Development & Activities (dosda@) can offer support to societies by offering event logistics guidance, suggesting ideas for safe event practice, and helping with room bookings.
  • Emma, Director of Wellbeing (dowell@) can help with accessing support and signposting you onto where you need to go. This can be a range of things from the Health Hub, for questions regarding physical health, or Student Services, who can help combat feelings of loneliness.
  • Amy, Director of Education (doed@) can help with your concerns regarding the delivery of teaching, remote assessment, and academic support. If you have any worries about the University's policy on dual delivery or remote studying, you can reach out and she will assist where possible.
  • Sophie, Athletic Union President (aupres@) can help with anything sport related! Whether that is advice for club committees, running club events or people wanting to get involved in sport.
  • Dan, Association President (president@) can help with questions or concerns around accommodation, our local community and any financial worries. If you have any other questions and can't work out who to speak to, drop me an email and if I can't help, I can pass you on to someone that can!

7. Emails from the University

For the benefit of incoming students, here are emails from the Principal and Proctor regarding coronavirus since March.

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am writing to tell you that after very careful consideration over the past 48 hours, my senior team and I have asked our Schools to plan to undertake a phased approach to the provision of in-person teaching in St Andrews when our new semester begins on 14 September.

This will mean, initially, that only those classes categorised by Schools as essential for in-person teaching will take place in that form, with a gradual increase of in-person teaching across our Schools during the first seven weeks of the semester. We have taken this action having consulted our staff and student leaders, in light of new evidence which suggests a larger number of students than was expected will be with us in St Andrews at the start of term, and in the current absence of a national asymptomatic testing regime, which would have added additional reassurance to the substantial steps we have already taken to ensure a safe return to teaching.

In-person teaching in the first two weeks of semester will now be limited to laboratory-based classes, classes in Medicine and some classes based on practical experiential learning. All other currently scheduled in-person teaching, including all small group tutorials and seminars, will be delivered online to begin with.

In weeks 3 to 5, we will begin to introduce more small group tutorials and seminars where the physical presence in a classroom is preferred to support the educational experience. Students and staff will be consulted on the selection of these classes as we draw up a schedule for the gradual increase of in-person learning and teaching. Finally, after independent learning week, in week 7 we intend to deliver all small group tutorials, seminars and classes smaller than 35 students in person for those students who are in St Andrews.

We will of course only move through these stages of phasing if we are satisfied it is safe to do so.

More detailed information on the way this will affect students, staff and individual modules will be made available to you all as soon as possible. Please do not contact your Schools just now – they will be in touch with you about arrangements for our undergraduate and postgraduate students. I am particularly concerned to ensure that students who find it challenging to engage with the remote component of dual delivery of teaching have all appropriate personal and technological support.

We recognise that, for many students, the ideal conditions for study and university experience are ensured by being resident in St Andrews. Here, there is access to our libraries and resources, dedicated study space, computing centres, wifi, IT services, sports facilities, student services, and the virtual support and activities offered by our Students’ Association. Being in St Andrews also allows you to acclimatise to our new safety regimes, and to engage with in-person teaching as we phase it in over the semester.

We have several reasons for making this policy adjustment. It has become apparent in the past few days that the number of students who will arrive to study with us in St Andrews is likely to be greater than anyone had forecast, partly because the late changes to the way A Level and Higher exam results were calculated have obliged us to admit significantly more entrants than would otherwise have been the case. This has posed some challenges to timetabling and scheduling under the current physical distancing restrictions.

We now estimate that up to 9000 undergraduates and postgraduates plan to be in St Andrews during this first semester, whereas our early modelling had suggested a community of only 7000 would return or enroll. It is also becoming evident that up to 1000 students, both entrants and returners, are unable to join us in person for visa or other reasons. This has implications for Semester 1 modules in both pedagogical and organisational terms, suggesting that we would do well to use the first few weeks of semester to take the measure of our module enrolments and to allow students to settle down before increasing our in-person teaching component.

I must stress that these are only estimates, and that we cannot confirm final numbers until our semester one snapshot has been taken in mid-term.

It is also now clear that a national programme of asymptomatic testing of students is unlikely to be in place in time for us in St Andrews, although we continue to lobby for, and offer support to, that proposed scheme.

I have listened carefully to our staff, and students, and our local community, and while there is a substantial desire to return to doing what we do best as a university, there is an understandable anxiety amongst some members of our teaching staff about the next few weeks. I know that many tutors want to teach in-person, and many of our students want to learn that way, but the experience of all of us is diminished if apprehension, even amongst a minority, affects the classroom dynamic disproportionately, as I believe it could at present.

In all these circumstances therefore, it is prudent to begin our new semester with the phased approach to in-person teaching which I have described, subject to Scottish Government guidance.

For clarity, I remain utterly confident in our risk assessment procedures, developed jointly with our campus trade unions, and the very considerable steps we have taken over the summer to plan for the safe resumption of teaching and research in St Andrews. The prevalence of Covid in Fife and more broadly in Scotland remains low, and we will maintain our robust, evidence-based approach to our planning for a safe return to work and study. We say and we mean that the safety our students, staff and townspeople is our overriding priority. By adopting this progressive approach, we have an opportunity to demonstrate to each other that we can do this safely, in a compact founded on a clear understanding of our individual responsibilities. Phasing allows us to build community confidence.

I appreciate that with the start of teaching a fortnight away, this decision comes with little notice. It has been the repeating pattern of this pandemic, however, that there are necessarily fine margins to most decisions, and frequently, little time in which to make them. We must always be prepared to act quickly and clearly, to adapt, and to be patient. Our teaching arrangements are hugely important, but we are also focusing extremely closely on safety beyond the classroom, and how we support and ensure the safe behaviour of our student community in town.

I ask you all to continue to work with me, and with your fellow students and staff, to maintain this university’s good record on managing the pandemic, but to do so in a way which allows us to return as quickly as possible to the traditional model of teaching, learning and the student experience at which St Andrews excels.

Sally Mapston

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am writing to let you know about some significant new measures we have put in place to ensure your safety, as we prepare for the start of our new semester on 14 September.

When you return to or arrive in St Andrews, you will see that a great deal of work has taken place over the summer to present prominent signage, guidance and instruction on how to stay safe and minimise the risks of transmission of Covid-19.

We have endeavoured to make this guidance as simple, visible and as intuitive as possible for everyone in our community. I hope that the signage and on-campus guidance will be sufficient for most of us, but should you require it, detailed guidance on the safe use of buildings is available to all staff and students here.

Masks and the Covid Code

We have published an eight-point Covid Code for students and staff, which sets out clear expectations about mask-wearing, physical distancing, self-isolation and respecting public health guidance. Every student and member of staff will receive a copy of the Code, which I append to the foot of this message.

You will see that at the heart of the Code is an instruction that students and staff should wear a face covering or mask when indoors whenever you are in company beyond your own household, and always when instructed to do so.

I acknowledge that this is at the strictest end of interpretation of Scottish Government guidance, and that it may feel strange or difficult for some of you to begin with. Wearing a mask will not only prevent the spread of Covid however, it will become a very visible sign of our individual respect for each other in St Andrews.

There will be some occasions when it is simply neither possible nor advisable to wear a mask, and I would ask that common sense prevails, and that any divergence from this instruction is by mutual consent and after reasoned discussion. Wearing a mask however should be our default.

Rapid Response Team and Covid Saints

We have established a new Covid Rapid Response Team to support students, or staff, who require to quarantine or self-isolate. This team will also be our primary interface with colleagues in the NHS, and will facilitate rapid testing and contact-tracing if required. It is led by Dr Chris Lusk, formerly Director of Student Services, and will work alongside our existing Covid Helpdesk, with which many of you are already familiar.

We are recruiting our own team of Covid Saints – student ambassadors whom you will see out and about and are there to offer you clear advice, guidance, masks and assistance if required.

Testing

I am pleased to say that after proactive discussions with the Scottish Government, the NHS, Fife Council and the University have agreed to establish a Walk-In Testing Centre for symptomatic cases in St Andrews, the first of 11 such centres to be rolled out across Scotland. It will be sited in the Victory Memorial Hall in St Mary’s Place, opposite the Students’ Association, and is due to begin operations from 2 pm today.

We are amongst the first to register with the NHS to become a satellite testing centre, in addition to the facility just announced, as the Scottish Government considers testing of asymptomatic individuals to bolster national monitoring of the prevalence of Covid. I will update you on any developments in this regard.

Teaching

As the new semester approaches, I would like to remind you all that we are rigorously following Scottish Government guidance in the provision of all in-person teaching in St Andrews.

All of our larger classes, and some smaller ones, will be delivered only online. With small class sizes, we will provide in-person teaching in controlled and physically distanced circumstances, where full risk-assessments have been carried out and with strict adherence to all public health guidance. Our risk assessment process has been developed in detail, with the support and active involvement of the campus trade unions, and has proved to be a model which other universities are now following.

Small group teaching in safe spaces is central to what we do and who we are, and it is strongly in the interests of social mobility, mental health, protecting jobs, and supporting our local economy.

Safety and collective responsibility

Safety is our over-riding priority. It has been our watchword from the outset of the pandemic, and it has guided every part of our response to date. We have achieved a great deal as one community by staying true to that principle, and as a result St Andrews and its university have so far largely avoided the deficits and harm which we have witnessed in so many other places. I am advised that there have been no hospitalisations in Fife as a result of coronavirus infection for two months, and that speaks to the considerable efforts of government, Public Health Scotland, local communities, and institutions.

St Andrews was the first university in the country to ask our students to return home, and we will be amongst the first to welcome them back. I ask you all to work with me and each other to ensure that we do so safely and thoughtfully, in lockstep with the prudent and cautious approach of the Scottish Government, and with a clear understanding of our responsibilities to each other.

This of course remains a volatile and challenging environment, and I recognise that there will be many concerns and questions, as well as some excitement and relief, that we are taking our first (fully risk-assessed) steps to return to our classrooms and workplaces.

I would therefore ask you to respect one another and our local community, and follow Scottish Government guidance and any instructions set out by local businetwo Open Fora via Teams on I and 2 September at 12 noon and 5 pm respectively. I hope as many of you as possible are able to join. We are listening carefully.

Sally Mapston

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students

I am writing to give you an update on progress with preparing for Teaching next academic year.

Academic Study

The University of St Andrews places great value on the kind of teaching for which it is widely renowned. We have worked hard to adapt our teaching practices and our facilities to the new circumstances imposed on us by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we aim to provide you with a teaching and learning environment that is safe, stimulating, rewarding and interactive.

Planning and delivering teaching in any year is a complex matter, given our rich and diverse range of discipline areas, subjects, and physical infrastructure. Obviously, the uncertainties and constraints that must be anticipated in the coming academic year add considerably to this complexity. The main principles considered when adapting teaching practices, informed by the recent student surveys, are:

  • interactive learning is highly desirable
  • in-person learning is desirable where possible
  • compromises will be inevitable, given the need to simultaneously cater appropriately for students and staff in a wide range of personal circumstances, while complying with Covid-19 restrictions, all of which may change during the academic year

In the outline below, we use the following terms:

  • Face-to-face – interactive teaching where students and staff engage in a synchronous live tutorial or seminar; can be either in person or online
  • In person – staff delivering teaching are in the same physical space as the students; physically distanced in line with applicable government regulations
  • Online – where students can access the teaching through the internet

Small class teaching

We intend to deliver planned small class teaching (such as tutorials and seminars) in a face-to-face format. As far as possible this will involve in-person learning together in a classroom – at a safe distance from one another – being instructed by a member of academic teaching staff, who will facilitate discussion, enquiry and a lively exchange of ideas. These small classes will be available online for students who are not able to engage in person due to quarantine, shielding, self-isolation or travel restrictions. It is also possible that a proportion of small classes will need to take place online in order to comply with Covid-19 restrictions operating at the time. As has always been the case at this University, you will also be welcome to arrange to meet module staff in person (where feasible) or online, to discuss assignments and receive feedback or other forms of academic mentoring.

Large class teaching

Larger teaching events will be delivered using online formats. They will regularly be accompanied by interactive elements based on delivery platforms (such as Microsoft Teams) that allow you to interact with each other and your lecturers and tutors, to ask questions, engage in discussion and share ideas.

Practical teaching

We intend to deliver a practical teaching experience for all students expecting to undertake such activities, although the structure and extent of these activities is likely to change due to Covid-19 restrictions. Alternative learning approaches will be used to meet learning outcomes when practical work cannot be delivered in person. If you are not able to engage in person, you will be provided with appropriate online tasks and activities that will allow you to meet the relevant learning outcomes. In some programmes it may be necessary to reschedule modules with a particularly significant practical element, or components of those modules, to later in the programme.

Information about your modules

Pre-advising is now open for returning students, and details about modules and programmes can be found in the course catalogue. We will provide full information about any changes to how modules will be taught or assessed by mid-August.

Examinations

The August and December 2020 and May 2021 examination diets will take place online, as in May of this year.

Studying remotely

The University understands that some students might need to begin the new academic year by studying remotely, because of travel restrictions, quarantine, self-isolation or shielding. In these circumstances, we will allow you to begin the year studying remotely and join us when you are able to do so. You will receive more information by 20th July about the process for requesting to study remotely.

Advising and Matriculation

Advising will take place online; you will be able to make an appointment to speak to your Adviser of studies using Microsoft Teams. The core advising period will be Monday to Wednesday of Orientation Week, as usual. However, the advising system will open earlier than usual, on Monday August 31st, and, subject to Adviser availability, you may be able to make an appointment during the week preceding Orientation Week if you wish. You will receive further details about Advising in August, and more information can be found here.

Matriculation will be completed entirely online for many students, including ID/document checks. However, in-person document checks will still be required for some students for visa purposes. Any in-person document checks will be managed to ensure compliance with government guidance on physical distancing and hygiene measures. More information about matriculation can be found here.

Support and facilities

To the extent that is feasible within any Covid-19 restrictions, when in St Andrews you will be provided with an excellent and supportive setting for academic work. You will have access to study spaces in halls of residence and libraries across the University estate. You will benefit from reliable provision of high-speed internet, access to the full range of electronic resources offered by the University Library, and dedicated technical support for study-related technologies. The University Library will ensure that the essential reading for your modules is available online, while offering a scanning and ‘click-and-collect’ service to enable you to access other library resources. Access to physical collections will be made available in line with COVID-19 advice. Library staff are available to assist you through the chat facility on the library website.

Student Experience

The way you will look to build community, identity and the social and extracurricular elements of your student life will be very different for the start of the 2020/21 academic year. We are currently working with undergraduate and postgraduate students to understand how we can best support you in developing your experience beyond your academic studies. We are also working with Schools and Units to ensure that your non-academic experiences are as safe, stimulating, rewarding and interactive as your academic work. The University is committed to supporting the many traditions that are central to student life in St Andrews and together we will find new and innovative ways to ensure they continue.

Support for students during the summer

Student Services continue to offer appointments via video or audio calls with Student Services Advisers and Counsellors using Microsoft Teams. When making an appointment please indicate your preference for a video call, audio call or online chat. The Advice and Support Centre phone and email accounts are being answered as normal: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/students/advice/.

If you have a disability, long-term condition or specific learning difference, the changes in teaching delivery and assessment may mean you need to review your existing support or wish to explore putting a support plan in place. To discuss options with a Disability Adviser please contact disability@st-andrews.ac.uk.

The Chaplaincy remains available to support any student (or member of staff), regardless of faith or philosophy of life, throughout the summer vacation. Students can talk in confidence to Chaplains from across the Chaplaincy team via Teams, facetime and phone calls, or by email – whatever the issue. You are welcome to email the Chaplaincy at chaplain@st-andrews.ac.uk or call 01334 462866. Further details at https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/chaplaincy/.

Best wishes,

Professor Clare Peddie

Vice-Principal Education (Proctor)

 

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I write to update you on some key issues related to state support of universities during the Covid crisis, the University’s plans to exit lockdown, and our support for staff and students to assist with preparations for the start of the new academic year in September.

As some of you will have seen, the UK Government has announced a double package of support measures for university research, and has today published a research and development roadmap outlining its plans to support UK R&D and the country’s science infrastructure.

The support measures include £280 million to fund extensions to grants affected by the Covid crisis and offer stability to research and innovation activities across the UK, and, from the Autumn, the provision of low-interest loans, and some small grants.

We are working through the detailed implications of the package for St Andrews, and what steps we may need to take in the short to medium term to ensure we use the support on offer in the most effective ways possible. That work is led by our Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation, Professor Tom Brown, in close consultation with colleagues across the University.

This package is undoubtedly welcome, and will go some way to address the University’s financial challenges, the detail of which I have shared with you previously, but we should be clear that St Andrews, and most other universities, will continue to face a very significant shortfall which will impact all of us.

I appreciate that the nature and timing of the Covid emergency required us initially to focus heavily on our teaching provision, but this has been no less a challenging and stressful time for colleagues involved in research, nor has it ever been more important that this country looks to its research base for the energy and ideas that we require to pull us through the forecast recession.

As you know, in step with the Scottish Government’s guidance, we have small numbers of key staff coming back into the University this week to support the phased re-start of key strands of our research, and to prepare for the new academic year which is now just over two months away.

My team and I have lobbied continuously to ensure provision for research is accounted for in the Scottish Government’s four-phase roadmap to come out of lockdown and the UK Government’s funding priorities, and we can all be encouraged by the importance which governments north and south of the border now seem to be attaching to it.

I know that for a significant number of you, re-starting research and preparing teaching materials over the summer in time for the new semester has added stresses and complications this year, especially those of you with young families and no immediate access to childcare.

As I indicated previously, this has been a priority issue for us.

If, as expected, the Scottish Government moves to phase 3 of its roadmap out of lockdown later this month, from 23 July to 10 August we will provide a free Junior Saints Summer Camp for the children of University staff and students offering a range of outdoor and indoor activities at the Sports Centre in St Leonard’s Road.

Bookings can be made for children for sessions in the morning, afternoon, or all day, but initially bookings will be restricted to five sessions per child per week.

The Summer Camp will run on weekdays only, and is open to children aged 5 to 11 (Primaries 1 to 7). We will be able to accommodate up to 60 children per session. Camp participants will be split into four groups of 15, with each group led by two Saints Sport coaches.

The Camp will be based on Saints Sport’s existing multi-sport programme, but no prior sporting experience is required and children will have the opportunity to try a much broader range of activities. Sessions will feature a mix of popular and non-traditional sports, and a wide variety of non-sporting activity, with plenty of breaks and the opportunity for quiet time and reading in dedicated safe zones. The emphasis throughout the whole camp will be on having fun safely.

More details about Camp, and how to book, are available here. I am exceptionally grateful to the Provost, Dr Monique Mackenzie, and our colleagues from Saints Sport who have worked very hard, very quickly to come up with comprehensive summer childcare provision which will be fully in step with the conditions of phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s roadmap to exit lockdown.

If restrictions are eased further in the meantime, it may be possible to start the Summer Camp earlier than 23 July, in which case we will ensure you all have early notice of any revised start date.

I hope that this will go some way to easing the stresses of juggling work with childcare responsibilities, and that it will help in our joint effort to ensure we are prepared and ready for the start of the new academic year in September.

We are making arrangements to hold three online Open Fora before the new semester starts, to take your questions on research, teaching and the University’s broader plans for next year. These will be hosted respectively by the Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation, the Vice-Principal for Education, and myself. The times and dates for these will be publicised well in advance.

In the meantime, all staff will shortly receive a link to a video prepared by our EHSS colleagues detailing the steps that must be followed if you are asked to work on site in St Andrews again. The video forms part of a short Moodle course which is mandatory for all colleagues before they return to the University, and is one of several steps we are taking to ensure a safe working and studying environment for all staff and students. Students will also be asked to take the Moodle course later this summer.

While a considerable majority of you will continue to work remotely, as others prepare to return to working in St Andrews, we should remember that a group of our colleagues has continued to work at the University through the Covid emergency and lockdown. This group includes many staff from our Estates and Residential and Business Services units. They have ensured that our students in halls remain safe and looked after, and that our buildings and facilities are maintained and kept safe. They’ve done this quietly, professionally and without fuss, and we are all indebted to them.

This is necessarily going to be a very different summer for many of us, but notwithstanding the extra burdens we have all shouldered through these last difficult months, I hope that as many of you as possible are able to take leave in the next few weeks, and to rest, relax and recuperate as best you can.

I will write to you all again as and when required, should there be any significant developments in our planning, or the national picture, over the summer.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am writing to update you on plans for our new academic year in September, and to provide detail on the ways in which we will resume teaching and research in St Andrews.

We’ve consulted widely over the past few weeks with members of staff and students, and all of us involved in planning have been so encouraged by the fondness you have for the physical surroundings of your University, and the desire so many of you show to get back to, study, research, teaching and work in St Andrews when the time comes.

Yesterday, Scotland’s First Minister confirmed that the country is now in the second phase of its four-phase plan to exit lockdown. This allows us to begin preparing for a phased physical re-opening over the summer, and to move ahead with re-starting many areas of our world-leading research portfolio.

I want to share with you the vision and plans which you have helped us shape for St Andrews in September, in a way which lets you envisage life when term starts, and reassures you about your safety and wellbeing, how we will operate, and the way we will deliver teaching and support research.

I am speaking to you as one community, because it is vital that we all continue to work together to ensure our University remains safe, and successful, and that we recognise our collective responsibility to ensure a safe exit from the Covid crisis.

Our headline decisions are:

  • We will begin our new academic year on 14 September 2020. Orientation Week begins on 7 September, and our Halls of Residence will be ready to welcome students from 24 August.
  • Teaching at St Andrews next semester will be a blend of traditional, in-person classes, pre-recorded content and live, interactive online provision. Wherever possible, we will default to traditional in-person teaching with remote delivery as back-up support for those students who require it. Larger classes, typically those in lecture format, will be delivered only online while public health restrictions remain in place. All our in-person classes will take place under physical distancing regimens. All our online classes will be recorded so that students can access them later if desired.
  • We are calling this blended approach to teaching in St Andrews “dual mode delivery.” We will provide teaching this way only for as long as is necessary, and as a stepping stone towards a comprehensive return to the traditional approaches to learning and teaching for which St Andrews is renowned. All students can expect the same high level of teaching quality, academic attention, and support, whether online or in person.
  • If you are a current student or a new entrant to St Andrews, we will contact you in August with links to detailed information about how we will implement dual mode delivery in your chosen modules.
  • All students who are able to travel safely should plan to be with us in St Andrews for the start of the semester. We will of course make arrangements to provide tuition online if you are unable to get here for the start of term, but we strongly recommend you come to St Andrews if you can. Being here in person means you will be best placed to benefit from an optimal learning environment as Scotland completes the final phases of its exit from lockdown.
  • Safety informs everything. We will provide safe, fully risk-assessed, living, studying and working conditions in St Andrews, and all the tools and facilities people need to stay safe, founded on clear public health guidance. We will provide you all, students and staff, with face-coverings, and over the summer we will re-purpose our buildings to support physical distancing. We will ask you all to work with us to ensure classrooms and other common areas can be regularly cleaned. Detailed guidance for staff on the safe use of our buildings will be published shortly.
  • Our Halls of Residence will be open as normal. All students will have their own rooms. For any hall resident who may need to quarantine on arrival in the UK, if that requirement is still in place, we will provide your accommodation free of charge for the quarantine period, from 24 August.
  • We are taking steps now to bring key staff back on site, to re-open labs where possible, and to re-start our research. The First Minister has confirmed that essential staff can return to work on site from 22 June to prepare for universities and colleges re-opening, and that labs and research facilities can resume work from 29 June. We expect to move into phases 3 and 4 of the Scottish Government’s route-map over the next two months and as that happens we will be asking key staff to come into work in St Andrews to support our gradual re-opening.
  • We will manage the numbers of people in our community at any one time, particularly after the semester starts. Many of our staff who are not directly involved in teaching or research will be asked to continue to work remotely, and on site only when absolutely necessary. This is to minimise any risk to our students in town, and the staff who will be carrying out small-group teaching and research, and those supporting them.
  • Our teaching staff will be expected to provide small-group teaching on site under physical distancing regimens, and we will increase the amount of in-person teaching we provide as the easing of restrictions permits.
  • We will provide comprehensive support to our students. You will be looked after by our Student Services team, and our Student Health Hub in St Andrews will ensure you have speedy access to high-quality healthcare and support. If you are living in our Halls, we will ensure your environment is safe, and common areas are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Our student leaders and the St Andrews Students’ Association are working hard behind the scenes to bring students some unique and creative events and activities that can be enjoyed both from home, and in St Andrews come September- from a new take on Freshers’ Week, to socially-distanced society events, to online showcases for student talent, every part of the student experience will be adapted to make it as safe as possible, without compromising on quality. The Students’ Association is independent of the University, and works to represent and support all students. Whether you're in St Andrews or anywhere else, you can reach out to union@st-andrews.ac.uk if you have questions about the Association’s busy calendar of activities for the new semester, or an issue you want raised at a university, local or national level.
  • We will provide comprehensive support to our staff, including some childcare provision over the summer and in the new term to support a return to work, occupational health advice which takes account of your personal circumstances, and initiatives dedicated to your wellbeing and professional development.

Our planning is founded on a vision of St Andrews as safe, supportive and Scottish, where people come first.

Scotland has taken a particularly cautious approach to managing the Covid crisis, and the aim of the Scottish Government is to get as close as possible to eradicating the virus over the summer, to support a comprehensive re-opening of society as soon as public health guidance allows.

We will be in lock-step with the Scottish Government’s programme for exiting lockdown. The Government’s prudent approach to managing risk, and the steady progress that Scotland has made in suppressing Covid in recent weeks, give us grounds to be optimistic that our University will be able to return to a much more familiar pattern of life in the coming academic year. We will continue to consult closely with our campus trades unions.

Finally, I want to come back to concerns that I know are currently a substantial issue for those members of our staff, and some of our students, who have pre-school or school-age children, and who do not yet have the certainty of knowing when schools or childcare facilities might fully re-open. I know that you are concerned about how this might impact your ability to prepare teaching materials over the summer, and potentially, to come into work in semester 1.

This is a priority challenge for us, and we are making some arrangements to provide drop-in childcare facilities for you from Phase 3 of the national exit from lockdown, and into our new term, should there still be substantial restrictions on school attendance by September.

My colleagues and I will write to you about this provision in more detail in the very near future.

Sally Mapstone

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students

I have written to you each week of the Covid-19 crisis, to keep you closely informed, and at the heart of our planning for the start of the new academic year in September.

We have a summer to come between now and then. This long, strange semester is over. However odd these last four months have seemed, and however distant we may all have to remain from normal life in the weeks ahead, I do hope that as many of you as possible are able to find time and opportunity to relax, recuperate, and reflect.

If you cannot take the time now, I hope you are at least able to plan to take it, circle those dates in the diary in bright ink, and hold them sacrosanct. We are all going to have to work even harder when the time comes to ensure our University transitions safely through what we hope will be the final stages of the Covid crisis.

I have urged reflection alongside rest, because the inequalities which the pandemic is exploiting ruthlessly in almost every country have been thrown into sharp and painful relief in the US this week where the murder by police of George Floyd has ignited a wave of just protest against systemic racism.

I know this has had a profound impact on some of you, especially our students, and a number of you have written to me and senior colleagues demanding that St Andrews makes a public statement condemning racism.

We are a global community in St Andrews. When things happen in Minneapolis, or Hong Kong, or Paris, or Nova Scotia, or Bradford, or here in Fife, we feel them acutely not only because we will all know someone who is personally affected, but because they are an affront to the values of this institution. I understand the anger that comes from the injustice that we have seen reported this week, and I feel it myself.

We are also a uniquely privileged community, and that privilege cuts two ways. We must accept, as a 600-year-old institution, that while we might pride ourselves on our commitment to diversity and our intolerance of all racism, we have long been a part of the establishment and structures which perpetuate discrimination in this and other countries.

Accepting our part in this, and shining a light on the ways in which we unwittingly prolong this legacy, is a fundamental step for any institution serious about diversity and inclusion.

We can choose to prepare for that step by challenging everything we think we know about race, injustice, discrimination and the causes of division.

As I write, some of our academic and professional services colleagues with particular expertise in this area are working to prepare a reading list for publication in In the Loop this week. The texts which they recommend will be challenging and perhaps difficult for many of us. They may make us feel angry and uncomfortable, but worthwhile change rarely happens in comfort.

There is a second aspect to our privilege. You are all part of one of the world’s great universities, and are amongst the best and brightest minds of our times. You have resources and choices, intellect and opportunity, and the levers of change are closer to your hands than they are for millions of others. For the most part, you can breathe.

Tweets and statements in themselves will not change the world, but fact and argument can.

Let us condemn racism with our research, our ideas, our actions and sacrifices, and our willingness to be challenged and changed.

Covid has taught us that the world need experts after all. This is the moment for universities and their communities of scholars to step to the front of the line and accept responsibility for providing the evidence and answers to help to heal a troubled world.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I want to update you briefly on our planning and progress as we reach the end of the semester.

The Scottish Government has published Scotland’s Routemap Through and Out of the Crisis, which describes a four phase programme to safeguard public health, lift restrictions, and return the country to a more normal pattern of life.

Yesterday, the First Minister confirmed that evidence of the sustained suppression of transmission of Covid-19 in Scotland meant the country will enter Phase 1 of the recovery programme.

My senior team is leading a programme of work under eight workstreams, which I have described to you previously, to map our own detailed proposals for recovery onto the broader national framework.

This is, and will remain, a substantial challenge, not least because it is impossible for any government to provide the level of medium to long term certainty that such planning would normally require.

We are in daily discussions with the Scottish Government, however, and we are hopeful that more detailed guidance will soon be available for universities which require to take complex actions now to re-start research, re-open their estates and buildings, and prepare for the start of the new academic year.

The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education, and Science has pledged his support for a phased return to campus, and in a meeting with him on Wednesday, fellow Principals and I reiterated the pressing need to get this preparatory work underway, while respecting and supporting the country’s cautious approach to lifting lockdown.

I know that you will all have questions about the future, and that it will be very important for all our staff, students, new entrants, and indeed our local community, to be able to envisage life in St Andrews when the new semester starts on 14 September.

It is thus our aim, by mid-June, to have set out a clear vision for the sort of university we will be by September, the measures we will have in place to safeguard your health, the shape and blend of our academic programmes, how we intend to use our estate creatively, and the actions we will take over the summer to ensure St Andrews is as well prepared as it can be for the future. That vision will be powerfully informed by the many consultations in surveys, committees, working groups and focus groups that we have been undertaking, and in which so many of you have participated, over the last few weeks.

There are some grounds to be optimistic. This week, only one new case of Covid-19 was reported in the Fife Council area. The suppression of transmission is due entirely to a collective response to lockdown, and however much the strength of that alliance may yet be tested by this week’s events at Westminster, in this part of the world I think we can be enormously proud of the part we have all played, equally, in demonstrating that when we work together and recognise our responsibilities to each other, even the most severe threats can be met.

Finally, I have tried to avoid singling out individuals or groups for attention in these messages, precisely because this is and will remain a collective effort, but I will make an exception this week.

When lockdown came, we knew that a significant number of students would be unable to travel home safely. A community of around 1000 of you remained in town, and with a very small number of exceptions, you’ve been a credit to the University. I know that some of you will have to remain with us longer, and we will do all we can to support you.

We have only been able to provide accommodation and look after students in our Halls, however, because of the dedication of our teams in Residential and Business Services, Student Services, Estates, IT Services, and many others. For 11 weeks, many of our RBS colleagues have been coming to the workplace as normal, in some cases taking three buses every morning just to get here.

Our colleagues have managed cases in which students have had to self-isolate, looked after a population of over 700 students, provided regular hot meals, and have done all this while ensuring that our Halls remained a Covid-free environment. I know there have been challenges and occasional difficulties when we were forced to close some of our residences on safety grounds, and I am grateful to everyone who helped us work through those.

The service that our frontline colleagues have delivered, along with the attention and care from our academic staff, is such that we know of one family who now want to send a sibling to St Andrews, having experienced the way we try to look after our students.

That is the St Andrews to which we all want to return.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I’m writing to you in a week which in normal circumstances would have been marked by the last shrieks of senior soakings, taxi horns, and trundling suitcases, the clatter of marquee assembly, and conversation turning to the horizons of a long summer.

In our current circumstance, in which the unfamiliar grows more familiar by the day; it can be all too easy to let the old normal, as the media would have it, become a little greyed out.

The occasional glance backwards not only lets us retain perspective, it provides a reference for the scale of the change we have just experienced, the suddenness with which the consequences of the pandemic were visited on us in St Andrews, and the speed with which we have all had to adapt to keep our University functioning.

This week, it is also Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. The theme this year is kindness.

Those of you who follow and engage with our Instagram account will be familiar with the inspiring content and helpful advice posted this week by our Student Services colleagues.

Support for mental health has for a while been the welcome and overdue focus of prominent campaigning in this country, sufficient, surely, to ensure that we should never see a return to the days when stigma meant it landed last in the national queue for resources.

This crisis, however, and the emotional energy it has both given to and required of us, provide an opportunity to add impetus to the national debate on mental health and wellbeing, and to consider what kind of community we want to be in future, and how we should support each other, here in St Andrews, and in the country more broadly.

Many students have just come through arguably one of the most stressful periods of the year, we had to move with unavoidable haste and precise instruction to the comprehensive provision of remote teaching and exams online, our labs and libraries are locked down, and we probably all have an acute sense of our own mortality each time we hear the news.

Yet most of us are relatively safe at home, the air is distinctly clearer, there is no angst of the morning commute, we are all probably spending much less on coffee and tea, and there appears to be far far less ironing being done.

All of this, of course, at a time when some of you are balancing caring and professional responsibilities, there are widespread personal financial concerns, and we are all learning the psychology of working and relating to each other in the small squares of Teams.

When I wrote to you last week about the principal workstreams which are driving our recovery, you will have seen that one is devoted to Student and Staff Wellbeing.

Led by the Master and Deputy-Principal, Lorna Milne, the Assistant Vice-Principal for Diversity, Ruth Woodfield, the Proctor, Clare Peddie, and the Vice-Principal for Governance, Alastair Merrill, it is planning for the ways in which we will need to support the mental health of students and staff in future, and how we should balance remote working with traditional working.

This strand will draw upon the findings from the People Strategy, and the results from our recent staff and student surveys.

Using these resources, we will seek to improve understanding of people’s experiences during the Covid crisis and to co-create guidance around expected behaviours to ensure all staff and students feel safe, valued and can make their best contribution.

The workstream will benefit from the expertise of Ruth Unsworth, Deputy Director of Student Services, who has been seconded to advance key aspects of its work, and Flora Smith, the Students’ Association Director of Wellbeing, who will also be a member of the Wellbeing team.

Essential to the success of this work is a recognition that no two experiences of this crisis are the same. We are small enough that we ought to be able to plan policy and provision which are sensitive to those different experiences and needs. We know that Covid has been a profoundly unequal experience across society in its broadest sense, and that this inequality extends to the way each of us tries to cope.

Last week, our staff were invited to complete a survey on working in the context of Covid, and the results of this, alongside our student surveys, will be used to inform our Wellbeing workstream planning. Almost a thousand of you have already taken part.

The staff survey remains open until midnight on 24 May and I would encourage as many colleagues as possible to take part using the link which will have come to you in an email from the People Strategy account on Thursday last week.

Please note, we have not asked colleagues who are currently furloughed to complete this survey. For legal reasons, we cannot ask them to do anything work-related while they are furloughed.

The early returns from our survey appear to support the view that the experience of working in the context of Covid has not been linear, and that our responses cannot be either.

Over half who have responded so far felt they have managed to maintain a healthy work-life balance, while a sizeable group has said this balance has actually improved and they are happier working from home; over 65% have felt able to stay physically active; over 80% have felt supported by their line manager; over 80% have known where to find information from the University on how Covid impacts on them as a member of staff; around a third have felt anxious working from home.

We’ve learned that the restraints of web conference software, such as the lack of body language cues in meetings, have actually been of significant benefit for some colleagues. They’ve felt more able to have a voice in discussions. There is also a strong trend towards more people wishing to work flexibly in future, and an enthusiasm for ideas around more sustainable working.

This is not only hugely valuable data, it is, I hope, when complete, the substance for a wide discussion and debate about the things that are important to us as individuals, and collectively, and how we wish to work together in future.

Above all, it gives all of us an opportunity to ensure that our community remains resilient, tolerant, and kind.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students

As we are now eight weeks into lockdown in the United Kingdom, and apparently past the peak of the pandemic here, our collective focus has shifted from managing the acute phase of this crisis to planning for the easing of the current restrictions, and envisaging how we will live, work, and study in a world which we can expect to be shaped by Covid for a considerable time to come.

This is a naturally imperfect science, and one which prompts myriad questions for individuals and for institutions like ours. In this message, I’d like to address some of these with you, and to reassure you about the detailed work we have been undertaking to ensure our University is as resilient and prepared as it can be for the future.

You may have seen that within the UK, England has chosen to move at a different speed from the devolved nations in lifting restrictions, although we retain the hope that in broad terms, the four nations will move in lock-step and consensus again in future.

For the avoidance of any doubt, St Andrews will follow Scottish Government guidance. Our overwhelming priority will remain the health and safety of our staff and students, and our responsibility to the local community. The advice to people in this country remains firmly to stay at home.

The Scottish Government judgment is that the R number, the rate at which the virus replicates, remains uncomfortably close to 1, the level beyond which exponential spread occurs again. Notwithstanding our desire to get out of lockdown, to re-start our research and to return to familiar surroundings in St Andrews, we have a shared duty to continue to do everything we can to suppress transmission, and not to waste the considerable efforts we have all made over the past two months.

The publication by the UK Government this week of its plans to ease lockdown, and accompanying advice on workplace safety, has been helpful in that it is reasonable to anticipate that these are the sorts of measures we will see adopted in Scotland when the scientific advice determines it is the right time to do so.

In many cases, we are substantially ahead of the game in St Andrews. We have projects underway considering how we adapt our estate to support social distancing guidelines and ensure the safety of staff and students; we are looking at ventilation systems in labs, teaching spaces, offices, residences, and recreational spaces; we are considering how to support staff to achieve an optimum balance of working from home with working in St Andrews again when that becomes possible; we have no fewer than nine strands of work led by the Proctor and involving academic and professional staff from across the institution planning for the dual-mode delivery of teaching (remotely and in classrooms in St Andrews) and thinking creatively about the things we can do to support and enhance the experience of undergraduates, postgraduates, and staff.

We are looking in very significant detail at how and how quickly we can re-start research on site in all subject areas in St Andrews, and I am very sensitive to the concerns of colleagues who I know are anxious to return to their workplaces, including labs and the Library, as soon as possible. The UK Government has signaled that scientific research is one of the categories of activity that should now re-commence, and there is bound to be some tension when that is not yet the case in Scotland. Please be assured that we are pressing for the relaunching of all research facilities in our discussions nationally, and preparing carefully for it in work led by our Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation.

From my regular interaction with Ministers, I believe that the Scottish Government fully understands the importance of universities and research to society and the economy, and this has been underlined recently by the allocation of an additional £75 million to support research in Scotland, the only new money which has been forthcoming thus far to higher education in any part of the UK.

In total, the Principal’s Office and Senior Management Team are driving eight key workstreams – Teaching and Student Experience, Research, Estate and Accommodation, Student and Staff Wellbeing, Epidemiology, Community Support, External Relations, and Communications. The development and coordination of these workstreams has been led by our Vice-Principal Governance who has also guided our fluent response to the crisis via the Covid-19 Operations Group.

The senior networks of our Heads of Schools, led by the Master and Deputy Principal, and our Professional Service Directors, led by the Quaestor and Factor, will be central to the planning, decision-making and delivery of these major streams, and their complex interdependencies. This work will also draw actively and substantially on views from around the University, which we shall be collecting in a staff survey to be opened very soon, and we continue to work closely with the campus trade unions.

Our Senior Vice-Principal is leading on our scenario planning – a particularly challenging task given current volatility – and directing our Admissions and Corporate Communications teams on creative campaigns pitched at our offer holders overseas, in Europe, and in this country. We must also now consider the implications of the UK Government announcement this week that, from a date yet to be determined, it intends to require people travelling to the UK to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

Equally challenging is our financial planning, which I have touched on with you all in a previous message and which remains a very substantial concern for St Andrews, and the sector more broadly. This work is led by the Quaestor and Finance Director, and links closely to our scenario planning. I continue to be heavily involved in discussions with the UK and Scottish Governments on the financial sustainability of the sector.

I’d like to say a few words about our student leaders, the Sabbatical Officers from the Students’ Association and Athletic Union, who are closely involved in much of the University’s work. Jamie, Flora, Shaina, Amy, Mika, and Leah are in the last two months of their terms of office, and a reminder to us all not just of how much our students have had to sacrifice because of the pandemic, but the qualities which I think set St Andrews apart from other institutions. These six people have worked tirelessly to support us all, to give invaluable advice, to advocate for the diverse interests and needs of their peers and to bring a considered, independent voice to the heart of our planning.

I know that our relative physical isolation from each other makes it even more difficult perhaps to envisage what the future may be like when we can’t just walk up North Street and feel the solidity of the place, or be reminded daily of our purpose and common energy by the chance encounters on pavements and in coffee shops which are so much a part of life in our university.

That solidity, purpose, and energy however are in all of us. They run through our planning and I can see how much they inform the drive we have to restore a community that is as safe, supportive and vibrant as it was when we were forced to go our separate ways.

These will continue to be difficult and stressful times for many of you, and some of the questions you may have we cannot yet answer. But we are thinking about them, and there is a sense of momentum and direction to our recovery now, however indistinct the future course of this crisis remains.

Over the next few weeks, you will see more detail and decisions emerge from the planning I have described here, and I will write to you all about some of these in the near future.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

(To staff)

Dear Colleagues

This week I’m writing simply to thank you all for everything you have done for our University since this crisis began, and to express the hope that the two rest days we have organised this week and next will give as many of you as possible the chance to switch off and be good to yourselves, and each other.

The past six weeks have been manifestly difficult for many people, and I know that the steps we have had to take to address the immediate financial consequences of the pandemic have caused disappointment and concern, even if they are absolutely unavoidable to maintain our commitment to preserve jobs and avoid pay cuts.

I wish it were otherwise, and I am working as hard as I can to put a persuasive and comprehensive case to our governments for the support our sector needs to ensure we can be the engines of recovery which our communities will look to when that time comes.

And it will come. One day our schools and playgrounds will open again, we’ll shop, eat and drink together again, squeeze past each other on St Andrews’ narrow pavements, play sport, literally bump into friends, colleagues and our students in coffee shops and bars, and teach our classes in the personal form they’ve been taught since we were founded.

None of us can know or say when the old normal might return, and it is, I appreciate, incredibly hard to envisage at this still early stage of our crisis, but I have no doubt that is where we are going, or that we will get there.

When we do, it will have been our universities who carried us, either through the development of a vaccine, or a novel drug therapy. Many of you will have seen the media coverage this week of the spin out company Pneumagen, founded by our own Professor Garry Taylor, which has reported very encouraging results in the lab against Covid-19, and is now keen to move to clinical trials of its new anti-viral drug Neumafil.

Projects like this are being fast tracked in every continent, and the scale and pace of the academic response to the Covid-19 challenge is breathtaking, whether that is in the development of pharmaceuticals, making sense of the global change we are experiencing, or planning for a future in which the importance of education and research will be re-emphasised. Never has the world needed experts more, nor has there ever been a more important time to be part of a university.

I hope you are all able to enjoy the long weekend.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students

During the Covid-19 crisis we have sought to keep you regularly informed of the steps we are taking to safeguard the health and safety of staff and students, our thinking about the start of the new academic year, and the wider challenges we face in dealing with the economic and structural effects of the pandemic.

In this message, I will update you on our financial contingency planning, the measures we are taking to safeguard jobs and protect academic standards, and how we should prepare to respond to the predicted easing of restrictions and gradual transition out of lockdown.

As you will now be aware, every university in the UK is facing substantial financial difficulties as a result of Covid and the effects of income lost during lockdown. St Andrews is no different, and we are one of a group of leading higher education institutions lobbying and advising on behalf of the sector at the most senior levels of government in Scotland and the UK for appropriate support.

We must be patient, prudent and ready to demonstrate how strong, globally focused universities will be crucial to helping the economy recover and our communities get back on their feet. That is one of the reasons why I have placed such an emphasis on the important role we have to play in supporting our own community here in St Andrews and north-east Fife, and the wider national and international effort against coronavirus.

The governments in Holyrood and Westminster are listening to us carefully and are fully aware of the scale of the assistance that the sector believes is required. In turn, it is important we recognise that the national effort remains focused on saving lives, reducing infection and supporting areas of the economy and our country where businesses are already failing and substantial numbers of jobs are being lost.

My senior team and I have been guided by the principle that the University is one family, and our priority is to keep that family safe, informed, supported and together as best we can through the acute phases of this global crisis.

This principle has driven our thinking in developing contingencies to address the £25 million shortfall we face this academic year as a result of the Covid crisis.

This is largely accounted for by our decision to act in a socially responsible manner by being one of the first universities in the UK to release students from their accommodation contracts, the loss of conference and accommodation rentals over the summer, and the continuing absence of funded extensions for research grants.

In setting out the difficult decisions we have had to take to address this shortfall, I want to be especially clear on two points; we will not seek compulsory redundancies, and we will not ask any of you to take salary cuts.

We must, however, pursue a range of efficiencies which will be tough and disappointing for our community. I would ask you all to bear in mind the scale of the challenge we face, and the profound personal and financial losses that are affecting so many others in society at this time. Our firm commitment to you not to make compulsory redundancies or cut salaries in itself means we have no option but to make savings in other areas.

We have taken the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 academic promotions round.

Restrictions will be placed on research leave for Semester 1 of 20/21. The Master and the Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation are writing to Heads of Schools with further details.

New appointments will be largely suspended across the institution, except in the most pressing cases.

Regradings of staff are being frozen, unless in exceptional cases.

Over 300 of our colleagues from professional services units have been furloughed on full salary, and we expect to furlough a further 200 members of staff in the near future.

I particularly want to say a word about our colleagues who have been furloughed, or will be furloughed in future. I understand that at a time like this it can be very unsettling, but please remember you are all valued members of our university who are simply unable to work as you would normally because of the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Our aim is to get you off furlough and back working as soon as possible. In the meantime, your engagement with this scheme is providing vital support to the University and your colleagues through the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

I am aware that these recovery measures mean that some people will be worried about the progress of their research and also their careers. We are profoundly sympathetic to this.

When we resume promotions rounds and regrading, we will take account of the extraordinary events people are going through now, and that will in many cases have affected their ability to work at their usual rate and in the ways that would be expected in normal circumstances.

We will carry out equality impact assessments on each of the actions we take, and will do our utmost to act fairly.

Alongside these efficiencies, we will explore new and innovative ways of income generation.

The University Court has sanctioned our recovery measures and the principle that we will not seek compulsory redundancies or make pay cuts, and the campus trade unions have been fully briefed.

We know that the pandemic also has many impacts on our students, undergraduates and postgraduates, and on our post-doctoral and early career researchers. We are working to support you in the short term, while also looking to our provision in the next academic year and beyond. My future messages will be addressing your specific situations in more detail.

We will come through this, and in many ways be the stronger for it, if we continue the teamwork and collegiality which have been the hallmark of our joint response so far.

Our decision to settle on a 14 September start to the new academic year with Orientation Week beginning on 7 September allows us to plan in some detail for both our students and our staff, as the country more widely debates the nature and sequence of moves required to transition out of lockdown.

We will monitor this very carefully, and our planning will be predicated on two key points; the ability to keep our community safe, and a readiness to respond quickly and effectively to circumstances which may change rapidly.

The UK Government is reported to be developing an exit strategy, and the Scottish Government has said that it will this week publish the principles by which it will determine when and how to lift restrictions.

We expect both administrations to be guided by the World Health Organisation’s Interim Guidance, published late last week, which at a high level describes the types of adjustments that will be necessary to minimise the risks of a second pandemic wave while easing society back to something approaching a more familiar routine. We will be considering how these apply in a university context, and more particularly, in the unique setting of St Andrews.

It is, as I reported last week, very likely that there will be widespread and rigorous testing and contact tracing, sustained requirements for social distancing and provision for precautionary self-isolation.

Our next phase of planning will therefore be to ensure we can pivot quickly to adopt the measures likely to be required of us at the start of the new semester, and I will write to you regularly as our intelligence matures.

Thank you all again for everything you are doing. Messages about things we have to stop doing, albeit temporarily, are never easy or pleasant, especially in an institution whose culture is founded on excellence, progress and achievement.

The response of our academic and professional services staff and our students to this crisis has, however, been exemplary. You will know in yourselves that what you have done is in many cases beyond the call of duty, and I take great heart in leading an organisation in which selflessness and cooperation are such prevalent qualities.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students,

This week I am writing to advise you that the University will begin the new academic year on 14 September 2020.

As I indicated in my message to you last week, we have been considering the question of our 2020 start date very carefully, while assessing the likely pattern of the Covid-19 pandemic in this country and overseas. Many of you have since then expressed a desire for early clarity on this point.

We have concluded that 14 September is the optimal date to begin the new term in St Andrews. This will offer some certainty to students, staff and our prospective students, and allows us all to plan in detail.

We will adopt a model of dual delivery in teaching.

Students and new entrants who can travel safely can expect to be taught in St Andrews in the normal way. For those who may be unable to travel to begin the new term on 14 September, we will provide comprehensive tuition remotely, and a smooth transition to the classroom on joining us in St Andrews once travel restrictions are lifted.

Orientation Week will take place in St Andrews in the normal way from 7 September, and we will provide a simultaneous orientation experience online to those new entrants who have chosen remote learning with us.

Principal’s Office colleagues and I are acutely aware that this model of dual delivery makes particular demands on our staff, and our students. It is, however, a stepping stone to a large-scale return to the traditional ways of learning and teaching in St Andrews which have been the cornerstone of our award-winning student experience for many years. That is our aim.

I appreciate that it is challenging to envisage September when we are still living through the acute phases of this global crisis.

Our decision to plan for 14 September is founded on all currently available evidence. We will of course keep it under review and our overarching strategy is predicated on remaining flexible, responsive to change and at all times guided by our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students.

Last night, the UK Government sensibly announced a further period of lockdown, and we can I think begin to take some encouragement from the growing evidence that our collective endeavour is arresting the spread of infection and saving lives.

I know that these past few weeks have been difficult, and we can expect more of the same through the remainder of April and into mid-May.

It will not always be like this, however.

The best evidence from this country and others shows us that we will all have to continue to practise strict social distancing and support a variety of restrictions on our lives for a significant time to come, but it is rational to anticipate that this will run in tandem with a managed if cautious return to more familiar levels of normality by late summer.

Things will have changed markedly; we should expect that normality to include widespread testing, contact tracing and supported provision for self-isolation, but there will be substantial reassurance in that.

It will be a world in which St Andrews can thrive, and just as importantly, it’s a world which will more than ever need the sharp, enquiring minds of our students, the strong intellectual and professional leadership of our staff, and the safe, supportive environment in which every one of us can realise our best work.

We have much more to do before September, and Principal’s Office colleagues will be talking to our Schools about the ways we and our professional services colleagues can support them on our dual delivery model.

As I informed you all last week, like every other university, St Andrews will face significant financial challenges as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, and we are one of a group of leading higher education institutions lobbying and advising at the most senior levels of government in Scotland and the UK for appropriate support.

In St Andrews, we are working hard on contingency plans which will protect our University community and the academic standards which are so critical to our future. We will all rely heavily on the collegiality and teamwork which have been the hallmarks of our response to the Covid-19 crisis so far. My thanks to everyone who is playing a part in this in very challenging circumstances, and who will continue to do so. Please, continue to do what you can, when you can. I will write to you again next week about our recovery planning.

Finally, I am delighted to report that the University was last night awarded Carer Positive Exemplary Status in recognition of our inclusive HR policies and the Caring Fund, Carers training (CAPOD), the EDI carers networks, and the new Coronavirus Wellbeing Caregivers webpage.

We are one of only two Scottish universities to achieve this standard. In confirming the award, Carers Scotland noted that support for carers within the University – both for staff and students – has gone from strength to strength.

Carers Scotland also said It is very encouraging to see that the response to the current Covid 19 crisis has taken the particular challenges faced by carers into account and provided relevant support and information.

I wish you all a restful weekend.

All best wishes,

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/coronavirus/wellbeing/

https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/remote-teaching/

https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/it-support/new-staff/work-from-home/

St Andrews Coronavirus Helpdesk Email: theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 4146

Dear Colleagues and Students

I’m writing to you from an atypically peaceful St Andrews. It is a time when we expect these three streets to be buzzing with student life and the first visitors of Spring, but the few of us who are still in town can barely hear ourselves think for the silence.

Our enforced separation is in the most noble cause, but it is, quite simply, not St Andrews without all of you.

These next few weeks, and indeed months, are going to be exceptionally difficult for us.

I am thinking of you all. I know that some of you have already lost family members and friends to Covid-19, and I am afraid that many more of us will be affected this way in time. The epidemic is reaching a peak in the United Kingdom, and appears to be following a very similar pattern in many other countries.

There are some signs that lockdown here is starting to have an effect in slowing transmission of the virus, but it is very clear that we are in this fight for the long term, and that it will have far-reaching consequences for this country, and our global community.

I am acutely conscious of the additional stresses on you at this time, from concern about family, relatives, friends and your own health, to the test of home working and remote study. I repeat my message of last week. Please, just do what you can, when you can.

Our combined efforts to respond quickly to the crisis, and to move so much of what we do online have been nothing short of magnificent, and have required substantial additional energy and commitment from so many of you.

We would therefore ask you all to observe two rest days, on 1 and 4 May, when no work or study should be undertaken. For colleagues whose current business or operational commitments preclude this, alternate arrangements can be agreed with your line management. For staff, these rest days do not affect your annual leave entitlement.

As you may already know, we have arranged an Ask the Expert session this week, chiefly to allow our essential frontline colleagues to pose questions on Covid-19 and the workplace to Professor Stephen Gillespie and Dr Devesh Dhasmana of our School of Medicine, and Janey Watt, our Occupational Health Advisor.

Our Coronavirus Helpdesk has triaged and responded to hundreds of calls and enquiries over the past three weeks, and our FAQs and web resources have been accessed thousands of times. We aim to improve these resources as we go, and I include links to our sections on Wellbeing, Working from Home, and Remote Learning and Teaching at the foot of this email.

We are turning our thoughts increasingly to how we manage the start of the new academic year, impossible as it is currently to predict the state of the world by September. At present, we believe it is prudent to plan for a return to face-to-face teaching, as well as remote learning, for students and staff who may still be subject to travel restrictions.

As I reported last week, we are responding to the Covid-19 crisis with support for the NHS, through research projects and practical assistance, and more broadly with assistance to our immediate local community. Professor Stephen Gethins is leading on coordinating our community response to ensure that the measures we take are evidence-based, sustainable and address real need. Along with the University of Dundee, the St Andrews Links Trust, the R&A and several leading businesses in Fife and Tayside, we are supporting the development of a software platform which will match the specific needs of local authorities in Fife, Tayside, Perth and Angus, with the skills of volunteers, and I hope to report further on this to you in the near future.

Next week, we aim to launch a modest University Community Fund to which small organisations in St Andrews and Fife can apply. We recognise that it is these small, voluntary bodies which maintain much of the fabric of life in our community, and they will be integral to its recovery when the epidemic has passed.

Our colleagues in Development have launched our own Covid-19 Appeal Fund, to support our students and key areas of work impacted by the crisis, and the response of our alumni and supporters in less than a week to both of these funds has been generous and incredibly thoughtful.

The First Minister of Scotland has recently announced a £5 million hardship fund for students, and we await details of the way this will be disbursed across institutions.

My senior team and I are guided by the principle that the University is one family, and our priority is to keep that family safe, informed, supported and together as best we can through the acute phases of this global crisis.

You will all have seen, and in many cases be personally familiar with, the profound economic effects of this crisis. We are protected from so much in St Andrews, but not this.

I need to make you all aware that, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the University is already facing a hole in our financial position of over £25 million this year.

This is largely made up of losses in research grants through the lockdown period, the loss of conference and accommodation rentals over the summer, and our decision to act in a socially responsible manner by being one of the first universities in the UK to release students from their accommodation contracts.

It does not take account of further losses to revenue which we would reasonably anticipate incurring as the global Covid-19 crisis continues.

It is as serious a financial crisis as our University has faced in modern times, and it will mean that we cannot do everything you want or expect us to, and that we have to take some very difficult decisions about our future.

I greatly appreciate the candour and understanding that many of you have shown so far, and I will respond in kind and ask you all to work with me to address this fundamental challenge.

As a Board member of Universities UK and Vice- Convener elect of Universities Scotland, I am making, with my fellow Principals and Vice-Chancellors, a strong case to the UK and Scottish Governments for urgent and substantial aid for our HE sector, founded on the premise that universities are, and will continue to be, a major part of the solutions to this crisis, and engines of the economy when the recovery comes.

We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government has acknowledged the scale of the financial crisis facing HE in Scotland, but we should not assume that aid will be forthcoming, or in the quantities that we require, given the devastation and raw need we are witnessing in other key sectors of our economy, and society.

Let me be very open with you: there is no magic pot of money in St Andrews. We must plan to do this by ourselves, with what we have at hand.

Our Heads of Schools and Heads of Professional Services are being briefed in detail on our finances, and the Principal’s Office will work with all colleagues and our Students’ Association to determine the actions we need to take.

All of our major capital projects have been paused while we take stock.

We will of course be reviewing our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan as a consequence of the pandemic, but the principles on which it is founded will not change.

It should be our joint determination that the University which emerges from this crisis will be world-leading, inclusive, entrepreneurial, globally focused, socially responsible, and unswervingly committed to excellence.

I know that these facts may be unsettling, but would ask you to put them in context. There are many others much less fortunate than us. We are a resilient and resourceful community, and if we work with and for each other, I am confident that our University will emerge the stronger for it.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students and Colleagues

I’m writing to welcome you back, whether in person or online, to St Andrews’ Candelmas semester after Spring Break, although it is unlikely to have been much of a break for most of you.

As a University community, we are now dispersed as widely as it is possible to be and I know that our rapid and enforced transition to online teaching means this is manifestly an unusual experience for our staff and students.

I would however like to thank you all for the tremendous hard work, cooperation and collective endeavour which has made it possible for us to respond promptly to public health imperatives, and continue to offer teaching and assessment for the remainder of this academic year.

There is of course much to get to grips with in our new online world, and we will get better at this as we go on, but I must pay tribute to the great effort and creativity of our academic and professional services staff, and the support of our student community at this time of international emergency. I know that our Deans are talking regularly to School Presidents, and that our Coronavirus Helpdesk and dedicated web resources continue to be a useful source of advice and support.

I aim to write to you weekly on the way our University is responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

Our focus has been, and remains, the safety of staff, students and the local community. Most of our students are now at home, and we are all in your debt for the way you responded to our appeals not to return to St Andrews after the vacation, as difficult and painful as that was for you, and us. We estimate about 1000 who could not travel have stayed with us, in halls and private accommodation in town, and we are doing our best to look after you.

The crisis, and the closure of schools in Scotland, has had a substantial effect on our workforce and we have closed and locked down the majority of our 166 buildings, including some halls of residence, to lighten the burden on our essential residences and trades staff.

For those who have stayed in St Andrews, we are all relying on you to practise social distancing to protect each other, our staff and the wider population of the town, which is predominantly elderly and more vulnerable. It is so important to do this.

I know that for our staff, and some students, juggling work and study with caring commitments is a substantial issue and can be a source of considerable stress. Please, just do what you can. We are looking at measures we can take to provide additional support to you, and we will continually develop the Working from Home and Wellbeing sections of our website.

My team and I are engaged daily in discussions with governments at Holyrood and Westminster, research bodies, and colleagues across the sector about the profound funding challenges we now face, options for the start of the next academic year, student and staff support through this difficult period, and ensuring the future of our research activity.

As you know, we took the difficult decision to cancel our June Graduation ceremonies and are looking at when and how best to reschedule for the Class of 2020, including an option to stage ceremonies dedicated exclusively to this year’s graduands, to allow you to be in St Andrews and celebrate in the traditional way. In due course we will give you and your families a wonderful and unforgettable graduation. But for now we need to get through this crisis safely.

We are only a week into lockdown in this country, yet our University in its broadest sense is already responding to the Covid-19 crisis in crucial ways, far beyond our immediate duty to safeguard the health of students and staff.

A team of virologists led by Professor Rick Randall is developing a new test for the coronavirus; Pneumagen, a spin-out led by our former Deputy Principal Professor Garry Taylor is testing drug compounds it has developed to combat respiratory pathogens such as the influenza virus to see if these are effective against Covid-19; Professor Stephen Reicher is providing invaluable advice and briefings to the highest levels of the UK and Scottish governments on the behavioural science of the pandemic; Dr Christos Lynteris, a medical anthropologist, is bringing an important public perspective to the societal and cultural phenomena of the pandemic. Professor David Crossman, our Dean of Medicine and Chief Scientific Advisor for Health at the Scottish Government, is the vice-chair of a new expert group established to provide additional analysis on the impact of Covid-19 in Scotland. The Master, Professor Lorna Milne, is leading our work with the Local Fife Resilience Partnership. I am serving on the Ministerial Leadership Group on Covid-19 chaired by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science in the Scottish Government, Richard Lochhead.

We are responding directly to requests from the NHS and Fife Council for assistance, from medical physics expertise to repurpose ventilators to a need to provide nursery accommodation for the children of key workers.

Our global family of alumni has been generous and thoughtful, from traditional donations to practical assistance. As I write, 11,000 protective masks are on their way from China to St Andrews, a gift from our Chinese alumni to whom we had reached out when the epidemic first struck in Wuhan. It is an incredibly generous and humbling act, and a reminder that St Andrews is so much more than these three, strangely quiet streets.

Some of our staff and students have already helped found Community Action St Andrews, a group established to help the vulnerable in our local community, and our Communications Team here has been supporting CASA with practical help on web and database work.

In the days ahead we will be looking further at the ways in which the University can support our staff and students to volunteer, in this and other countries, and I will write to you all again about that in the near future.

From today, our buildings in St Andrews will be lit with blue LED light in the evenings as a tribute and show of support for our National Health Service.

We are told there are tougher times to come, and I have no reason to doubt that, but this is also a time when universities can demonstrate their true value to society. I believe St Andrews is ideally placed to do that.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

To all students and staff

Dear St Andrews Students and Colleagues

This morning I have written to all of our 4th year Graduands to inform them that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel our June Graduation ceremonies. This will be a surprise to very few, and a disappointment to a great many.

This decision is of course unavoidable in the situation in which we all now find ourselves. On behalf of the University I have offered our Graduands a range of options, from graduating in absentia this summer to returning to St Andrews when this crisis is over to celebrate with us and take part in a future ceremony.

We hope that as many as possible will choose to return so that we can all mark their achievements in the traditional way.

We have had to do things in recent days that are utterly alien to us. Asking many of our students to leave St Andrews, if St Andrews is not home and they can travel safely; ending all face-to-face teaching and moving entirely online; telling our staff to work from home wherever possible; cancelling the highlight of the University year; contemplating a future currently defined only by shifting uncertainty.

But these are the steps we must take to play our part in the worldwide effort to contain the spread of this virus, and limit the threat it poses, especially to the vulnerable, and older generations, who are predominant in St Andrews’ permanent population and to whom we owe a substantial duty of care.

In the next few days, we will begin to close and lock down many of our 166 buildings. We must do this to lighten the burden on many of our essential front-line staff, the people who will keep the University open, our students fed and cared for, and our buildings safe and clean. The national decision to close schools and nurseries has quite understandably had a profound effect on our workforce and we are acting responsibly and quickly, in a range of ways, to take account of that.

Heads of School and Unit are being closely consulted about which buildings will remain open, arrangements will be made to allow staff to remove any personal effects before closure if necessary, and as soon as possible we will publish a detailed list of all buildings and how they will be affected.

From the outset of this crisis, the focus of our activity has been the safety of students and staff. That work will continue in the days ahead. It is necessarily difficult and disruptive, and I know that it has been exhausting and stressful for many of you.

In large part however, our community has accepted the personal and professional challenge and the speed with which we have had to adapt in a manner which should make us all exceptionally proud to be a part of this University.

Our task is Herculean, the coming weeks will demand even more of us to fulfil the promise we have made to our students to continue to teach to the end of this semester, and to support our local community in practical and sustainable ways.

Nothing, however, is more important than our collective contribution to a global public health imperative whose success relies precariously upon acknowledgment of our basic responsibilities to each other.

For further information on Graduation planning, building closures, arrangements for online teaching and assessment, and support for home working, please consult our FAQs. These are updated regularly to reflect our responses to the fluidity of the national picture.

You can also contact our Coronavirus Helpdesk in the Advice and Support Centre, theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk

I am thinking of each and every one of you, and will stay in regular touch.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students

The United Kingdom is now entering a phase in which severe and long-lasting restrictions on public life will be enforced in an attempt to suppress the spread of coronavirus Covid-19.

I cannot over-emphasise the seriousness of this situation, or its effects on the life of our University.

I wrote to you two days ago recommending that those of you who had remained in St Andrews with us over Spring Break make arrangements to go home.

I am writing again today to ask that you go home without delay, if you can.

I know that there are some of you who cannot travel or go home, and I want to assure you that we will do everything we can to look after you in St Andrews in the weeks and months ahead. The fewer students who stay here, however, the better we are able to look after those who cannot leave.

The measures announced last night by the UK Government have already had an immediate and profound effect.

Our Libraries, Sports Centre, Students’ Association, and public spaces are closed until further notice. Many other buildings will be accessible only by swipe card to limit footfall and reduce the burden on our cleaning staff. Our student residences will remain open, but life in them may be subject to very significant constraints.

Our Schools and Professional Service Units were last night instructed to implement remote-working plans which have been in preparation for several weeks, for staff who can work from home.

I know that these are intensely worrying times for you and your families, as they are for our staff and their families. Our priority is your safety and wellbeing, whether you are at home or staying with us in St Andrews, and we will be continuing to work very hard on behalf of all students, and our staff.

The life of our University will continue, but it will necessarily be extraordinarily different to that which we have known, and is likely to face further, significant restrictions and challenges. We are doing our best to anticipate those, and to keep you fully informed of their implications.

We are updating our FAQs as promptly as we can, and I ask you to familiarise yourself with them.

Please also ensure you check your University email accounts at least twice daily for further updates, especially in relation to instructions for the online teaching and assessment programme which will be in place for the remainder of this semester.

You can also contact the Coronavirus Helpdesk in the Advice and Support Centre, North Street, theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students

I am writing to inform you that the University will deliver all of its teaching and assessment exclusively in online formats from the resumption of the semester after Spring Break (30 March).

There will be no classes or face-to-face teaching in St Andrews for the rest of this semester.

We are making preparations for all forms of assessment and all examinations to be set and completed online and will provide further information as the examination period comes closer. Details about the delivery and assessment of each of your modules will be provided to you by your module convenors before the end of Spring Break.

I wrote to you last week asking those of you who were leaving St Andrews over Spring Break to ensure that you took with you all equipment and materials that you would require in order to be taught and supervised remotely.

I am now asking all students, whether outwith St Andrews or in St Andrews, to take steps to ensure that you have the equipment and materials that will enable you to access teaching and supervision materials remotely.

If you have remained in, or had planned to return to, St Andrews after Spring Break, you should be fully aware that the rapidly changing picture of the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to result in significant restrictions to public life in the UK. You will be aware that other countries have gone into lockdown in an effort to manage the spread of coronavirus.

That may mean that you are largely confined to your room or flat. Given the daily changes in guidance from the UK authorities, the University cannot at this time guarantee that you would have physical access to our Libraries or any other facilities. You should also be aware of the scale and nature of restrictions now affecting international travel, and the speed with which some of these have been introduced.

If you wish to go home, and can travel safely, we recommend you do so.

If you cannot travel, and choose to stay in St Andrews for the remainder of the semester however, we will do our best to look after you and, provided we can to do so safely, to allow you access to the Library and other study space.

Please continue to check your University email regularly for any updates, changes to our advice or instructions for remote teaching and learning.

I know that these are intensely worrying times for you and your families. The suspension of classes speaks to the gravity of the situation which we all face. Our priority is your safety and wellbeing, whether you are at home or staying with us in St Andrews, and we will be continuing to work very hard on behalf of all students, and our staff.

For further information on our coronavirus contingency planning, please also familiarise yourself with our FAQs. These are being updated regularly to reflect the latest guidance from the UK and Scottish authorities.

You can also contact the Coronavirus Helpdesk in the Advice and Support Centre, North Street, theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students and Colleagues

I am writing to inform you that one of our students has tested positive for coronavirus Covid-19.

Our primary concern is for our student, who is in self-isolation in St Andrews, receiving appropriate medical care and is recovering. Our Student Services team is in contact with them and providing support.

The student had recently been in Switzerland, and took ill the day after they returned to the UK. They self-isolated and contacted NHS 111 when symptoms first appeared.

The student lives alone in private accommodation in St Andrews. We have been planning extensively for this eventuality for several weeks, and our established protocols and advice have been closely followed.

We understand this development will cause concern amongst our students, staff, and the wider community. It is however entirely expected given the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic.

We have been advised by the NHS Fife Health Protection Team that classes at the University should continue to take place today, which is the last day of teaching before the start of Spring Break.

Full information and advice about coronavirus, what you can do to protect yourself and others, and the steps we have taken in St Andrews to minimise the risk to our students, staff and the local community, can be found in our FAQs.

You can also contact the Coronavirus Helpdesk in the Advice and Support Centre, North Street, theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk, tel: 01334 464146.

For national advice on coronavirus contact NHS 111 or visit the NHS Inform website.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students

I am writing to you with an important update ahead of the coming Spring Break, and in light of the rapidly evolving pandemic of coronavirus Covid-19 in the UK, Europe, and further afield.

In the current circumstances, it is common sense for the University to plan carefully for what may lie ahead, and we are strongly encouraging you to do the same.

Having taken expert medical advice and in close consultation with the Scottish Government, we are today amending and updating our advice as follows:

If you are leaving St Andrews over Spring Break, please ensure that you take with you all equipment and materials that you would require in order to be taught and supervised remotely. It is possible that over Spring Break, the University may have to move to deliver all teaching online. It is also possible that during Spring Break we will have to tell you not to return to St Andrews if there is significant spread of Covid-19 in the interim. You should be prepared for this.

If you are travelling overseas over Spring Break, please bear in mind that it is very likely you will have to self-isolate on return, whether you stay in University halls or private accommodation. The situation in many countries, especially those in Europe, is changing rapidly. Destinations which appear relatively unaffected just now may quickly become affected. Our Halls of Residence have only limited facilities to provide managed self-isolation for students. Self-isolation in Halls will mean being unable to leave your room for two weeks, except for toilet trips.

If you wish to cancel planned travel over Spring Break and are a resident in our Halls, you can stay in Halls over the break and we will provide a meals service for you. Please consult our FAQs for further details.

Please consider others. Coronavirus causes a relatively mild illness in the majority of people who contract it, especially younger generations, but can be serious and life-threatening for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

The actions taken by the United States overnight underline how quickly and fundamentally the situation can change. Please ensure you are prepared for the likelihood of further significant disruption in the days and weeks ahead.

Please be assured – the University is not preparing to close and will not close. We will continue to deliver teaching and assessment for credit to the best of our ability, whether that is in classes, or remotely online.

Please continue to check your University email regularly for any updates, changes to our advice or instructions for remote teaching and learning.

For further information on our coronavirus contingency planning, please familiarise yourself with our FAQs. You can also contact the Coronavirus Helpdesk in the Advice and Support Centre, North Street, theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk, tel: 01334 464146.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues and Students

You will be aware that in this country, along with many others, we are facing the prospect of a rapidly evolving outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19.

I know that many of you will have concerns and questions about the risks to you personally, to your friends and colleagues, and to your families.

Over the past two months, my senior team and colleagues across our community have been preparing our University as best we can for this eventuality.

This is necessarily detailed and highly challenging work, addressing, as it must, a series of shifting uncertainties, and the uniquely compressed nature of this institution and the town, their particular strengths, and vulnerabilities.

We are today publishing a suite of guidance and Frequently Asked Questions which reflects our contingency planning to date.

This offers comprehensive advice on the ways you can protect yourself and others, the steps we have taken to safeguard your health and mitigate risk, and the measures we may have to implement if advised to do so by the UK public health authorities.

This guidance cannot be exhaustive, only a very strong starting point. We will add to and develop our contingencies in the weeks and months ahead, with your help.

We have set up a St Andrews Coronavirus Helpdesk based in our Advice and Support Centre on North Street, and I encourage you to use this if questions are not already addressed in our FAQs. You can contact the Helpdesk by email theasc@st-andrews.ac.uk and phone 01334 464146.

We will contact you by email if the situation in St Andrews changes significantly. At present, we have no confirmed cases, but we are already experiencing disruption to our day to day activities, and I expect that to continue and to become more challenging for us all through Spring and early Summer.

Later today, our Vice-Principal Education will provide detailed guidance to academic colleagues on the steps we must take to ensure the remote delivery of teaching and assessment, in the very unlikely event that classes have to be cancelled.

Let me stress, this is purely precautionary but prudent forward planning. Current scientific evidence strongly suggests that cancellation of classes or the wider closure of educational establishments is inadvisable, and we do not anticipate the UK health authorities will alter their view on that. We will however need to provide remote teaching and assessment facilities for a small number of students who for travel and health reasons may be unable to attend classes after Spring Break.

Please be patient with academic and professional services colleagues who are working extremely hard in unusual and difficult circumstances.

Each one of you has an enormously important role to play in helping our community manage the risks of the spread of COVID-19. Do not underestimate the very positive difference you can make by following our guidance and helping us develop the most effective response.

Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor