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Coronavirus Information & FAQs | University of Portsmouth

Coronavirus Information

Page last updated: Thursday 2 April 2020 1.30pm

This page is to inform staff and students about preparations we're making in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), and to answer your general questions.

As this is a fast developing situation, we will keep this page updated with the latest advice from the UK Government. We appreciate that staff and students may be feeling anxious and concerned. Our priority will always be to keep our students, staff and the wider community safe.

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University Coronavirus Information Line

With effect from Monday 23 March and until further notice, the University is operating a very limited opening arrangement due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

We have set up an information line to manage enquiries from students, parents and guardians, regarding our response.

Email: infoline@port.ac.uk

Telephone: +44 (0)23 9284 5588

The phone line is open Monday – Thursday 9.00am – 5.00pm and Friday 9.00am – 4.00pm.


Staff

If you’re a research staff member, please find FAQs on the Research and Innovation website.

Working from home

All staff are required to work remotely from home, with effect from Monday 23 March 2020 until further notice.

Any possible exceptions to this will be identified by Executive Deans/Faculty Managers and Heads or Directors of Professional Services. If identified as an exception, you’ll be notified directly by your line manager and appropriate arrangements put in place. Please read our working from home guidance.

Resources

The University has resources to work anywhere including a Virtual Private Network (VPN), Apps Anywhere, Webex Classrooms and Google Meets for virtual meetings and online learning. You can find a full guide to using these resources in our work anywhere guidance.

Using a University laptop off-campus

We have online guidance for working with a University laptop from home. You may take small peripheral items that enhance your remote working environment, such as a mouse or keyboard. Please notify your line manager if you do this.

If you’re on an open-ended or fixed term contract, your manager will identify tasks you may be able to do remotely while working from home. If it’s agreed with your line manager that working remotely isn’t possible while interim arrangements are in place in response to coronavirus, you’ll continue to be paid as normal.

If you’re required to look after dependants during this period (due to school closure or looking after elderly parents) despite them not displaying symptoms of the virus, you should discuss your situation with your line manager. Consideration should be given to working more flexibly when working from home – please read our working from home guidance.

If working from home isn’t possible, reasonable paid time off should be permitted in order for you to seek alternative arrangements and 1–2 days is recommended. If suitable alternative arrangements cannot be made, taking unpaid leave or annual leave should be considered. Please also refer to our guidance on time off for dependants.

Further advice can be obtained from HR by emailing hrsupportcoronavirus@port.ac.uk

We’ve put together updated guidance and information for staff and managers about annual leave during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Guidance on self isolation

If you’re displaying symptoms of coronavirus or you’re living in a household with others displaying symptoms of coronavirus, you should self-isolate in line with government guidance and notify your line manager as soon as possible.

If you or a member of your household is displaying mild symptoms but you feel able to work, discuss this with your line manager and make the necessary arrangements for working remotely at home. If it’s been agreed with your line manager that working from home remotely isn’t possible, you’ll still be paid for your period of self-isolation.

You also need to send an email to hrsupportcoronavirus@port.ac.uk detailing your period of self-isolation, whether you have a confirmed case of coronavirus, whether you’ll be taking the period of self-isolation as sickness absence or whether you intend to work remotely during this period. This is to ensure that HR records your absences correctly.

If your symptoms during self-isolation change and you are no longer able to work remotely from home, please notify your line manager and send an update email to hrsupportcoronavirus@port.ac.uk.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect from 17 March 2020 and applies initially for a period of 30 days.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice.

If you need to change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps:

  1. contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers
  2. get in touch with your insurance provider
  3. continue to follow the NHS coronavirus guidance

The FCO was already advising against all but essential travel or all travel to some areas or countries due to risks that do not relate to COVID-19. This advice remains in place. Check FCO travel advice pages for the latest information.

As a staff member, if your travel is essential, please follow the proper process for travelling overseas on University business by visiting our overseas travel webpages.

If you were on holiday in a coronavirus affected area and can’t return home because your flight has been cancelled, it may be possible for you to identify other methods of getting back home.

However, if alternatives are not available, there are several ways you can manage this:

  • using annual leave
  • agreeing remote working from an alternative location, using the working from home guidance 
  • use of TOIL or unpaid leave

Further advice can be obtained from HR by emailing hrsupportcoronavirus@port.ac.uk.

Further guidance

You’ll be paid for all hours where you are contracted and scheduled to work. You may be expected to work remotely from home and your line manager will put in place suitable arrangements to facilitate this. 

You'll be paid for all hours where you are contracted and scheduled to work. Your Head of School will identify suitable alternative work that you will be able to undertake whilst face-to-face teaching is suspended.

Part of the new working from home arrangements means that you’ll receive an extra £30 per month to support additional costs. Some staff have said they would like to donate it to students experiencing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you wish to, you can donate your allowance to the University Support Fund to assist our vulnerable students throughout this difficult time. You can do this by making a payment on the online store.

Please be aware that if you do this, any donations will be in addition to the support the University is able to provide, to maximise the funds available to support our students.


Current students

Our coronavirus guidance for current students includes advice on self-isolation and changes to University life, as well as focused information for international and study abroad students, and postgraduate research students.

Guidance on self-isolation

We suspended all face-to-face teaching for students on taught programmes from 13 March to help ensure student and staff wellbeing, as a precaution against coronavirus. 

We are not closing the University – just changing the way we deliver teaching. We will continue your studies online, with new assessment arrangements being put in place. While the mode of study will change, you continue as a registered student of the University and will continue to be supported as a student, albeit through different means. Teaching will continue, and this will involve the full engagement of staff.

This is an unprecedented situation, and this decision has not been taken lightly. We feel this is a proportional response to reduce the risk.

The NHS has provided stay at home and self-isolation advice in line with government guidance.

If you're self-isolating at either University or at home you need to inform us by completing this authorised absence form. You must also report this information to your Personal Tutor. They will ask you some questions to make sure the University properly understands your situation, so that we can provide you with support and signpost you to relevant services.

If you’re self-isolating in private accommodation - including halls of residence not owned by the University - please speak to your landlord, housemates and family to see if alternative accommodation arrangements can be made. 

If you’re self-isolating in one of the University halls of residence - please contact our Coronavirus Information line on +44 (0)23 9284 5588 (9am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday) or by email infoline@port.ac.uk. Out of hours messages will be responded to as soon as possible. For urgent out of hours coronavirus queries and welfare support in University-owned halls please call Security on +44 (0)23 9284 3418.

Don’t worry if you aren't registered with a GP surgery. If you think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, then you shouldn’t be visiting general practitioners,