Summary of Meeting with UoN – Health & Safety

UCU met with University management to discuss concerns on the 11th Nov 2020

UCU concerns:

Data of asymptomatic testing is not made available, allegedly due to ethical approval issues. The ethical approval should be reviewed so that data can be shared.

Testing on site needs to be more accessible, particularly for BAME staff and students Rise in staff active cases earlier this week.

Suitability of ventilation in smaller rooms, especially with requirement of keeping windows open and weather becoming colder.

Number of students coming forward for test (both asymptomatic and symptomatic dropping), due to fears of being required to self-isolate. There are also serious concerns regarding student compliance with H&S measures, like wearing masks in study spaces and buildings.

Better communication with students is required, stressing the need to test and comply with the rules. Staff don’t feel protected and therefore anxious.

Presentation of data on active cases on UoN website is biased and partial. Whenever Covid numbers are talked about, they are always low or falling sharply. UoN should do a better job in engendering trust and lower anxieties, by letting the data speak for themselves. Negative testing data should be included, comparison with data for the city should be included, data on turn around time of test should be included. Historic data should be available, not only past 10 days.

UoN response:

Asymptomatic testing data is not released because of the ethical approval linked to it, but we will review that. There is nothing to hide –ca. 400 staff have taken the asymptomatic test and the positive rate is under 2%. Student testing has decreased in recent weeks from 20% to 1%. Reporting asymptomatic testing is delicate, because the city is not doing asymptomatic testing.

More testing sites are indeed needed and two more will be announced on Jubilee and Sutton Bonington campuses at the end of this week. We are also talking to Derby hospital for how we can provide one there.

The number of active cases amongst staff has been consistently fluctuating around 20, it peaked at 40 around three weeks ago, right now there are 23 active cases.

Ventilation and adequate heating in buildings is within the remit of the Covid impact board, which meets regularly and is looking at retrofitting appropriate ventilation systems, as current system is not fit for cold weather. So this is in hand.

With regard to enforcement of compliance among students, this is quite effective in halls of residence, but more difficult to do in other university spaces that are not equally monitored.

We are aware that more needs to be done in this context. We agree that better communication with students is needed and we will work towards this, welcoming any input from UCU.