Bedfordshire staff have been busy preparing campuses and making sure they are safe for staff, students and the local community, as students return to university this month.
Coronavirus prevention measures are at the top of Beds’ Welcome Week priority list, and Facility and Estates staff have been busy behind the scenes, carefully planning and setting out social distancing and safety measures so that all University of Bedfordshire campus buildings across Luton, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, accommodation and on-campus open spaces are Covid-secure.
Temperature checking is taking place upon entry at every campus and one-way systems are in operation across all Beds buildings to reduce passing traffic between connecting and adjacent buildings, rooms and floors.
Social distancing reminders, such as posters, and a team of student Covid Safety Officers, can be found situated across the University’s campuses to help assist with one-way system directions and gently remind people to keep at a safe distance and adhere to the rule of six.
Extra hand sanitiser stations have also been populated around all campus buildings on every floor and cleaning rotas for public areas and toilets have been upped to assure efficient hygiene levels throughout the day.
All lectures will be online but practical and small group sessions will be face-to-face on campus.
Students will be encouraged to sanitise their work stations before and after use, and enhanced cleaning will be implemented throughout each day.
A Covid-safety video and a separate ‘Return to Campus’ video tour have been produced to illustrate the measures which have been implemented across the University’s estates to reassure students and staff ahead of their return.
The Welcome pages on the University’s website have also been filled with the latest Covid1-9 information, to ensure students are fully aware of the rules around social distancing, including the ‘Rule of Six’ whilst on campus and when visiting the local amenities and public spaces.
In addition, quarantine measures have been put in place at the University’s accommodation facilities and student villages for international students arriving in the UK.
Bedfordshire is taking every precaution to ensure students and staff are safe in time for the autumn term but despite the differences, the student experience will remain fulfilling and memorable.
It also ready to adapt if the Government issues any new guidance.
Testing forms a crucial part of the University’s safety measures and plans are underway for new community testing centres to be situated on campus.
Ruki Heritage, director of Student Experience, said: “As everywhere in the new Covid-19 world, we have made sure our students will be safe upon their arrival and throughout their university experience.
"All students are expecting to see new social distancing measures across every part of the University, including single entry/exit systems and restrictions on numbers in certain areas and facilities.
"Prior to their arrival, students have received informative reading material about these new measures, rules and policies to ensure they are fully aware and able to navigate around each campus.
“We’ve also reduced our residential capacity in student halls to help prevent the risk and possible spread of infection, and students are requested to groups of less than six when socialising.
"The Rule of Six applies when using our facilities such as the libraries, cafes and chill-out zones, which we ask our students to use when possible, to help keep footfall off campus to a minimum.
“As well as helping to keep themselves and others safe, we also hope that living and socialising in these smaller groups will give them a chance to make meaningful and long-lasting friendships.”
Cllr Khtija Malik, portfolio holder for public health at Luton Council, said: “We would like to thank the University of Bedfordshire for implementing a wide range of measures to make their campuses Covid-secure which will ensure the safety of students and staff returning later this month.
“While it won’t be the usual experience for many students, we are pleased that they are able to start or continue their studies at a top university and can have the confidence that they will be doing so in a secure environment.
"I encourage all students to follow the national guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”
Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford Borough said, “I’m glad to welcome students back to Bedford. Starting university – often the first time living away from home – and meeting many new people is daunting enough without a pandemic ongoing.
"The university has been working hard to ensure their campuses are following Covid-19 guidelines and giving advice and guidance to students. Good luck for the upcoming academic year.”
For further information about returning to campus, visit: www.beds.ac.uk/coronavirus.