University of St Andrews: St Andrews staff asked to work from home

Staff at the University of St Andrews have been asked to work from home wherever possible at least until the middle of January.

Yesterday (Tuesday 7 December 2021) First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the continued rapid spread of the Covid Omicron variant in Scotland is now “a very significant cause for concern” and urged employers to make arrangements for staff to work from home.

In a message to staff St Andrews Principal Professor Sally Mapstone said that acting early on home working is the best way to keep each other safe, and avoid putting unsustainable pressure on our health service.

It has also emerged that many Schools and units at Scotland’s oldest university have voluntarily cancelled planned Christmas parties with staff in some cases donating deposits to charity. Staff from Saints Sport, the University’s sports and exercise department, are donating their deposits to the Volunteer Zambia project, an international project which aims to empower young people in the UK and Zambia.

In her message to staff Professor Mapstone said: “I know many of our staff are already following this guidance, but I am today asking all of you please to make arrangements to work from home and avoid coming into the University wherever possible, at least until the middle of January.

“There will of course be necessary exceptions to this for colleagues whose roles mean they must be on site in St Andrews for lab work, research and to oversee exams, to maintain essential services, or because it is simply not possible for them to work effectively from home.

“Asking people to work from home is one of the few levers the Government has still available to it to address the spread of Covid, short of a return to the Levels system, which none of us wants to see.

“By working from home we not only help limit the chances of the virus spreading further, we lessen the risks to those whose roles mean they have to attend their workplace.

“It remains the case that, beyond its ability to transmit more rapidly than previous variants, we still do not know enough about Omicron to make sustainable policy, which is why a precautionary approach in this period is so important.

“Our NHS is already under severe winter pressure, and the Government has been clear that even a small rise in the numbers of people who may require hospital treatment for Covid would present considerable challenges.

“The response of our University community throughout the pandemic has been selfless, dedicated, and remarkable. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do.

“I am sorry to have to ask you again to make adjustments and sacrifices, especially at this time of year, but we must hope that by acting early, as we always have done in St Andrews, we can moderate the risks of encountering more severe restrictions in future.

“It is a mark of how quickly things can change and how fragile progress can be that last week we were able to safely hold in-person graduations, and this week we are asking you to take action to limit your contact with other people.”

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