On 17 September, Newcastle University released an open letter on their website stating the University's plans for the upcoming term.
The statement shared “some of the steps we are putting in place to ensure [students] safe return to our campuses, our city and the surrounding areas”.
However, the letter made no mention of the cyber attack and seemed to be more focused on how the University has adapted to become more ‘COVID-secure’.
Below is a summary of the open letter from the University:
- Quarantine – students in University-managed accommodation who have travelled from a country where quarantine is required will continue to be supported with food and other essential items during their isolation period.
- ‘COVID-secure’ campus – a number of physical changes have been made to campus. This includes one-way systems, defined points of access, socially distanced catering, hand sanitisation points and enhanced cleaning.
- Accommodation – accommodation ‘bubbles’ or ‘households’ will be formed, and the move-in process has been structured across an extended period to limit interactions between ‘bubbles’. The additional measures announced on 17 September will not affect students' ability to move to Newcastle and form a ‘household’ with other students.
- Learning environment - a blended learning experience which includes online and face-to-face teaching will be delivered. Face-to-face teaching will be delivered within COVID-secure guidelines and rules will respond to new local guidance as needed. The University insists that new regulations will not affect the quality of teaching.
- Managing people – the number of people on campuses each day will be kept to a minimum via adjustments to the timetable. Staff will continue to work from home when possible.
- Travel – by changing teaching and extending the teaching day, the demand for public transport has been reduced and spread across the day. Staff and students should only come to campus when necessary, by walking and cycling where possible. To ensure this, parking for staff will be provided.
- Test and trace – done using internal systems. The University will work with the NHS to help identify those who may have been in close contact with a positive case, and react as quickly as possible. It will also work with other partners to increase test facilities in the city.
- Operation Oak - funded by Newcastle and Northumbria to provide extra policing in residential areas with a high student density. This year it will be extended to provide support to the police to enforce social distancing measures.
There was a significant lack of information about the cyber attack in the open letter, which was later touched upon in an unlisted video featuring Vice Chancellor Chris Day.
Below is a summary of the video, which is only a few minutes long and touches on a few points:
- No personal data was compromised in the cyber attack. The Vice Chancellor reassures that there is no need for students to worry about the safety of their personal information.
- Canvas is working properly, and the University will be relying on it for online teaching in the coming year.
- Lastly, the timetable portal is now working: students should expect their new timetables to go online from 5 October onwards.
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons
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