Here you will find answers to coronavirus FAQs specifically for staff.

Last updated: 6 July 2020

Who do I tell in the University if I am self-isolating or have been diagnosed with coronavirus?

If you are self-isolating or have been diagnosed with coronavirus, it is important that you advise us. Please email the Head of Human Resources at ASmith2@qmu.ac.uk.

You can find out more information about leave and pay arrangements here.

If I need to self-isolate (or can’t return the UK), how will I be treated by the University?

(Although staff are working from home, this FAQ remains for completeness)

If you are a member of staff, please contact your line manager for support, who, in turn, must inform the Head of HR at ASmith2@qmu.ac.uk. As a general rule, if you are feeling well you would be required to work from home (where possible) and return to work only if you did not develop symptoms during the incubation period. If home working were not possible for some or all of the recommended period, authorised paid leave would be allowed. If you are unwell, the University’s Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure applies.You can find out more information about leave and pay arrangements here.

What is the extent of activity we are planning for Semester 1?

Induction Week will begin on 7th September (running over two weeks rather than the usual single week) and teaching and learning will start on 14th September (with a few exceptions as set in the message of 29 May).

We will maximise opportunities for face to face delivery in support of the student experience.

We will aim to publish the semester 1 timetable by no later than 21 August. The semester 2 timetable will be planned separately and published on a later date so as to be able to take into account any changes to current and planned restrictions.

Lectures will be delivered online and recorded (by staff, at home). This means that students can access online lectures at a time that suits them, rather than all students having to “attend” a lecture at the same time. As we will have to allow for social distancing on campus, the removal of lectures from the face to face timetable frees up space and time for the other elements of teaching, such as seminars and tutorials, where students will gain more benefit from face to face interaction.

Most seminars and tutorials will be delivered face to face on campus, with practicals generally postponed to seminar 2.

The Learning Resource Centre (LRC) will be available for self-development.

(It is our intention that those who have timetabled classes will have priority access to the LRC and social spaces on that day.)

How is teaching being delivered in semester 1?

All new first year students will receive six hours on-campus teaching per week from the very start of their course, in two to three hour blocks across two to three days a week. All new (full-time) postgraduate students will receive five hours on-campus teaching from the very start of their courses, again delivered in two to three hour blocks across two days a week.

If at any point in the semester Scottish Government health guidelines require it, this activity will be moved online for the required period.

Level 2-4 students will also receive a combination of on-campus and online learning, the balance of which will vary according to programme requirements.

The level of teaching of students in other years (i.e. not first year and PG courses) will be decided by the programme team, working within certain parameters. Where programme teams have questions or concerns about parameters and arrangements, they should contact their Head of Division.

The teaching day will be extended so that it runs from 9am to 8pm, though we will minimise the number of times any student or staff member is scheduled to be on campus in the evening. No student or staff member will be timetabled to be on campus for more than 8 hours on any day. The timetabling team will do everything possible to ensure the best use of space, to avoid, for example classes having to move from one seminar room to another as far as possible.

We will be allowing for physical distancing in our face to face teaching.

Where can I find guidance and support on teaching and learning in semester one?

You can find practical and pedagogical guidance here.

Staff will find further FAQs on the QMU intranet 

What is intended to take place in semester 2 and what about those courses that are scheduled for delayed start and commence in semester 2?

We currently anticipate that activity on campus will move towards normal levels from January albeit with precautionary measures and hygiene regimes ongoing.

We intend to prepare the semester 2 timetable for publication in November. The semester 2 timetable will accommodate some delayed activity from semester one.

 

What if I am due to travel on University business?

The University  has suspended all but essential business travel, both in the UK and abroad.  If you are a staff member with plans to travel on QMU business and you think this travel is essential, please discuss this with your Line Manager. If they agree that your travel is essential, they will need will need to discuss this with QMU Health and Safety. If you are a student planning travel related to your studies at QMU, please speak to your Programme Leader, who will then need to seek the advice of QMU Health and Safety

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to some areas. Please check the FCO guidance to see if your destination is one of those areas. The University will not allow work or study related trips which are not covered by the University insurance policy.

Remember, the guidance above relates to travelling on University business only. For advice on personal travel, see section below.

There is some useful general travel advice at Travel Health Pro.

What is the University’s advice on personal travel?

While the University is not responsible for you on personal trips, we all have a social duty to help avoid the spread of coronavirus and to help minimise the social disruption arising from it.  We strongly recommend that you follow the advice and guidance found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website at all times. This includes advice on whether it is safe to travel to a particular country, advice on health and security, including advice on coronavirus, and advice on what to do when returning from a trip e.g. whether it is necessary to self-isolate for example. If you decide to travel against FCO advice, be aware there may be travel restrictions imposed that may impede your return to the UK.  Please also check your own travel insurance policy. 

Given the evolving situation, managers will be sympathetic to requests from employees to cancel or amend annual leave, even at short notice.

There is some useful general travel advice at Travel Health Pro.

What is the University’s policy on annual leave for staff during the coronavirus situation?

We all need to keep ourselves fit and well. Taking annual leave contributes to that, even if our vacation opportunities are limited.  We would ask staff to continue to take annual leave during the coronavirus situation and to switch off entirely from work when they are on annual leave.

Staff are asked to note that the Senior Leadership Team has agreed a relaxation to the annual leave carry over arrangements for the 2019/20 leave year (ending 31 July).The relaxation is designed to ensure that those staff who have additional or altered workload requirements as a result of COVID-19, which mean they are unable to take their accrued leave within the normal time frame, are provided with additional time in which to take their leave.  Further details are available on the intranet (accessible when you use the remote desktop).

What do I do if I need to care for children because their school is closed?

Staff are now working from home, and so should be available as required to look after children. We expect colleagues in this situation to continue to work from home where possible, but we recognise that it may be difficult for those with young children to do so during their normal working hours and/or to work a full working day. We will continue to provide full pay to all staff in this position, and in return we would ask that staff, where possible, exercise a degree of flexibility.

We recognise that some members of staff may wish to take additional annual leave to allow them to fulfil childcare commitments, and we can confirm that line managers will be as flexible as possible in responding to any such requests.

You can find out more in our Caring Responsibilities at Home Guide.  

What do I do if I need to care for a dependent parent or other family member?

Most of our staff are no longer on campus, so should be available as required to care for dependants. We expect colleagues in this situation to continue to work from home where possible, but we recognise that it may be difficult to do so during their normal working hours and/or to work a full working day. We will continue to provide full pay to all staff in this position, and in return we would ask that staff, where possible, exercise a degree of flexibility.

We recognise that some members of staff may wish to take additional annual leave to allow them to fulfil caring commitments, and we can confirm that line managers will be as flexible as possible in responding to any such requests.

(See separate FAQ about caring for children when schools are closed.)

You can find out more in our Caring Responsibilities at Home Guide. 

Is there advice on working safely and effectively at home?

While working remotely, we all need to ensure that we take breaks and take other steps to protect our wellbeing.  

The HR team have provided guidance for staff on tips for working from home and work station set up. These are in addition to the existing Working from Home Guidelines, and can be found on the staff intranet.There is also guidance for line managers on managing staff working from home.

We have also created QMU@Home, a new web page to support staff by bringing together useful resources related to working from home, including maintaining a good work/life balance, health and wellbeing advice, and ways of staying in touch with the QMU community during this uncertain time. The site also provides details of key contacts if you need specific support from colleagues. In addition, it features blogs in which individual staff members describe how our present circumstances are affecting them and how they are adjusting.

Training session: Working Successfully from Home

You might like to access a one hour ‘Working Successfully From Home’ training session that is delivered online via Zoom by our training partners Positive People.

The session is presented by David Longstaff who has delivered the Ease the Load session to staff in the past. The session will be most useful to those that are unfamiliar with working from home.

Sign up for a session here

Just enter your details at the link and add PREPAIDQMU in the coupon code box.

There are a number of dates available and more will be added.

Please access Zoom via your browser rather than through the Horizon desktop in order for voice and video to work. 

Session content includes:

  • the value of daily routines
  • dealing with distractions
  • juggling work and children
  • focusing on priorities
  • getting exercise
  • knowing when to stop work
  • overcoming guilt

Where can I find guidance on remote working and video conferencing?

See our you can do IT at home webpage for information, guidance and tips.

Our IT team have prepared a brief document detailing steps to take to ensure your Zoom meetings are as secure as possible.

How are trade unions supporting staff through the current situation?

The University is implementing and adapting contingency plans as appropriate through regular Business Continuity Group meetings with student and staff health and wellbeing foremost in mind. The three campus trade unions are represented on the Business Continuity Group meetings and play a full part in its work.  TU reps are attending meetings in order to liaise around issues such as work contracts and conditions resulting from changing working practices due to COVID 19. The unions are liaising with each other over representation on the group and feeding back to each other. We have written a series of info e mails which we can send out to you if you missed them. Below are names and contact details of the reps dealing with case work etc linked to Covid 19. Members are most welcome to contact them with any issues that they would like raised with the Business Continuity Group or specific issues and case work arising through your work.

Your trade union reps are:

UCU: Oonagh O’Brien and Stephen Darling, UCU ucuqmu@qmu.ac.k

Unison Franziska McPherson, (FMcPherson@qmu.ac.uk), Kitty Flynn kflynn@qmu.ac.uk

EIS Andy Hendry ahendry@qmu.ac.uk  Irvine Allan iallan@qmu.ac.uk

How will the current situation affect REF2021?

REF have pulled together a comprehensive list of their own FAQs. You can read these in full on their website.

What is the advice regarding research projects?

New advice for ongoing research involving human participants

Issued 06 April 2020

In accordance with the UK Government guidance on social distancing and remote working, staff and research students in receipt of ethical approval from QMU are directed to take account of and follow the instructions below until further notice with specific regard to all on-going and planned research data collection that involves face-to-face interaction with human participants.

In those cases where research can be adapted to be conducted remotely, staff and research students are directed to the specific guidance below.

If it is not possible to adapt the design to conduct participant interactions remotely then data collection must be paused. See the specific guidance below.

Where research is simply paused for a number of months the QMU Research Ethics Panel will not require notification, but if significant changes to research design are required then a notification of change form will need to be submitted (researchethics@qmu.ac.uk) and approved by the QMU REP prior to the research resuming.

In the unlikely case where face-to-face interaction may still be necessary due to safety monitoring, researchers must update their risk assessments to take account of the ongoing situation, complete a notification of change form and seek approval from the Research Ethics Panel prior to conducting any face-to-face interaction with participants. Researchers must notify the QMU Research Ethics Panel (researchethics@qmu.ac.uk) with regard to these circumstances by no later than Friday 24 April 2020.

Guidance for Staff and Students

Given the exceptional nature of the situation arising as a result of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the QMU Research Ethics Panel (REP) requires all ongoing and planned research to make changes to how participant interactions are conducted.

In addition, the QMU REP has temporarily suspended the requirement for approval of changes to research projects that relate only to changes to participant interactions from face-to-face to remote, unless there is a substantial change to the protocol* as a result of the change.

Students - If you are unsure if it will be appropriate to change to remote interaction you should discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible. Once the appropriate way forward has been agreed, please follow the guidance below to adapt your research.

Guidance for those who need to pause their research

You must inform your participants that the research has been paused. It will be key that in whatever communication you send to participants that you describe how any actively enrolled participants will be managed, particularly concerning any safety monitoring / follow-up etc. where applicable.

Unless the changes made to pause the study result in a substantial change to protocol*, the pausing of a research study and issue of an update to participants will not need to be considered as a notification of change by REP.

Guidance for those who will conduct their research remotely

1. If you have not yet begun data collection but have ethical approval to do so you should amend your recruitment plan to recruit and interact remotely. Unless the changes made to the way in which you interact with participants results in a substantial change to protocol*, you will not need to submit a notification of change form. Simply update your recruitment documents to outline how you will remotely interact and then proceed.

2. If you have already begun data collection and will now change to remote participant interaction then unless the changes made to the way in which you interact with participants results in a substantial change to protocol*, you will not need to submit a notification of change form. Simply update your recruitment documents to outline how you will remotely interact with participants and use this version moving forward. Any already active participants must be informed of the switch to remote interaction and be provided with the updated participant information sheet. It is important that you make clear to participants that if they no longer wish to participate owing to this change, or for any other reason, that they are free to withdraw at any point.

*A substantial change to protocol might be a change that would alter the level of risk to the participant i.e. if you are working with vulnerable participants, to do so remotely might remove the safeguard of the researcher being able to detect distress face-to-face and mitigate risk by referring to an appropriately trained person.

New submissions for ethical approval

Researchers may continue to submit research ethics applications and they will continue to be reviewed. However, as will be made clear on your outcome letter, you are not permitted to begin data collection which requires any face-to-face interactions with participants in person until further notice. The following options are possible/appropriate:

1. Obtain ethical approval for a project involving face-to-face interactions with participants in person.

i. If you wish to commence data collection immediately you must amend these interactions to be conducted remotely as outlined above.

ii. If it is not possible to conduct your participant interactions remotely then you must then wait until you are advised by the University that face-to-face interactions can recommence before you begin any data collection in person.

2. If you are a student with time constraints around conducting your research and cannot conduct remote participant interactions, it is recommended that you change your research to involve secondary data analysis only (i.e. data which has already been collected) so that no primary data collection is required.

If you are a student in the Division for Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Physiotherapy, Podiatry & Radiography and undertaking a dissertation please follow the advice of your supervisor/module leader for alternative options.

New studies relating to COVID-19

An expedited review process will be considered for any new studies relating to COVID-19 where there are proven public health grounds to commence. In order for such a study to gain clearance to proceed with face-to-face participant interactions, and for this review to be expedited, the Principal Investigator must provide the following information to researchethics@qmu.ac.uk prior to submitting an ethical approval application:

1. What are the public health grounds for the study to be conducted?

2. What is the rationale for the study to be conducted at this time? Why can it not be conducted at a later time?

3. Evidence of a Risk Assessment, considering the potential risk to the researcher themselves, signed off by the relevant Head of Division.

Researchers should send the answers to these questions to the QMU Research Ethics Panel for consideration via researchethics@qmu.ac.uk. Please title the email “New Study relating to COVID-19” and your email will be prioritised.

Where can I find the 'top 10' FAQs for staff?

You can find the top 10 FAQs for staff on the  intranet (remember you need to be using the QM desktop to access the intranet).

Where can I find QMU's route map for the return to campus and normal operations?

What is the process for making requests for early access to the campus?

If you believe that you need to access the campus during phase 2 (ie before the start of the semester), you can request to do so through your line manager who will submit details to the University helpdesk (ASSIST).  Guidance on making access requests, along with examples of valid reasons for requesting access, is available HERE.

 

 

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