Response to COVID-19: Michaelmas term 2020-2021

Newnham College aims to remain a supportive community for all its members. We need our spirit of kindness, courage and solidarity in these new circumstances, as much as ever.

During the academic year 2020-21 we will continue to deal with the global impact of COVID-19. However, this will not be all that we see.

Our studies, research and discoveries continue. We continue to work to address environmental sustainability, racism, unconscious bias and all forms of harassment. We are determined that College remains lively and supportive, and that it will build enduring friendships.

This webpage includes useful links and information for Newnham College members regarding the University and College’s response to COVID-19 for the academic year 2020-21.

Key information for all College members is now being sent out on a weekly basis from the COVID Communications email address: please look out for these mails – the Covid Weekly Bulletin on a Thursday, and Covid Megaphones for urgent, timely messages – and read them carefully. They will also be archived in the ‘Covid Emails’ section of the College Health Information SharePoint site.

 

Key information

Our outbreak planning

Information for specific groups

Key information

 

Tier 2 restrictions: from 2nd December 2020

The Government has announced that Cambridgeshire will be under Tier 2 restrictions from 2nd December 2020 onwards.

We are continuing to manage the spread of Covid-19 in Cambridgeshire very effectively, thanks to the commitment of all our students, staff and Senior Members. In particular, we’ve shown that our Newnham protocols can stop Covid-19 being transmitted around College.

Changes to College Life

Cambridge is in Tier Two, High Alert: Government guidelines on what this means are here.

Before the National Restrictions in November, Cambridge was in Tier One, Medium Alert. This means that, while there are fewer restrictions than in November, things are not as they were in October.

Positive changes include:

  • The gyms and ergs can be opened
  • Organised sport on the sports field can take place
  • Groups of up to 6 people from different households (including from other colleges) will be allowed in the College grounds, although social distancing between households must still be maintained

However, some restrictions remain the same:

  • no external social visitors can enter the College buildings
  • no inter-household mixing inside

Again, there will be some changes to Newnham’s Covid Code of Conduct so that we can apply the new Government restrictions.

The Newnham team continue to work to make sure that people’s broader physical, mental and social welfare is a priority. We will be making sure that our College members have appropriate spaces in which to study, meet, eat and exercise.

Information about this will be shared via email and in the Health Information SharePoint site.

Holiday travel

Many students will be planning to travel to friends and family over the Christmas vacation. You will have had information about this, and about the testing programme to enable it, from the Vice-Chancellor.

College during the Christmas vacation

Newnham College will remain open during the Christmas vacation, for the many students and Senior Members who will be in Cambridge during this time. Our Buttery, Library, Café, Gym and other facilities will be open during the majority of the vacation (closing times will be announced by email). Festive meals will be available from the Buttery.

Health and wellbeing

Newnham has a College Nurse, Anne Schumann. Her hours have been increased for the 2020-21 academic year, and can be seen here

To support mental health, Newnham has increased students’ access to counsellors for the 2020-21, and to a 24-hour counselling phone service. Please find more information here.

Newnham Health Information SharePoint site for all members of College

Our Health Information SharePoint site brings together College guidance on COVID-19 for all members of the College.

This includes information on what to do if you feel ill, looking after your mental wellbeing, and copies of all COVID email communications.

University Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpages

Please refer to the University webpages for up to date information for all students of the University of Cambridge.

These pages represent the central definitive resource for University information on COVID-19 – please check it frequently.

We’d also strongly encourage you to look at the #StaySafeCambridgeUni website, and to follow the guidance shared there.

For information about the Disability Resource Centre, please see their own website.

Newnham’s Principles for the pandemic

Newnham’s Governing Body has agreed the following principles to guide us during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will:

  • Govern and organise ourselves effectively.
  • Enable the flourishing of students, fellowship, staff and other members of the SCR in very difficult circumstances.
  • Generate opportunities for intergenerational and interdisciplinary academic conversations.
  • Remain supportive, enabling and friendly.
  • Learn new virtual techniques which we can use going forward, and be open to new ways of doing things where the virtual cannot simulate the real.
  • Plan flexibly in accordance with the University scenarios so that we can respond appropriately to changes in Government rules and advice.
  • Communicate (including listening) well in a time of continued uncertainty.

College Code of Conduct

For everyone’s safety and wellbeing, and to meet our legal obligations, Newnham College required our students, staff and Fellows to all sign up to a code of conduct. We have done all we can to make this appropriate, fair and effective in this exceptional pandemic context. It has been produced after consultation with representatives from all parts of the College. It is a living document, and will develop over the course of the academic year 2020-21, in response to the changing situation and University and Government guidance.

All students received a copy of the College Code of Conduct (student version) with their room license.

A current copy of the Code of Conduct, including any updates, will be available in the documents section of the Health Information SharePoint site.

Risk assessment

Following Government guidelines, we have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment for those working at the College: Working Safely During Coronavirus – Risk Assessment

Every member of staff, including all the Fellows and Senior Members (SMs), who work in the College have received a copy of this risk assessment.


Planning for an outbreak in Cambridge

The University, in collaboration with local public health teams, has developed a Cambridge Outbreak Response Plan in order to manage potential outbreaks of COVID-19 and keep everyone in the community as safe as possible. This also covers likely restrictions on teaching in accordance with the Department for Education’s tiers of restriction for teaching. It includes a programme of asymptomatic and symptomatic testing.

The University has five response phases (green, yellow, amber, red and red+). You can check the current response phase and other University information here.

Details of how different COVID-19 response levels will affect teaching are here.

Newnham College has our own Action Plan in case of an outbreak of COVID in Cambridge or the College.

Our College Action Plan is updated regularly as Government guidance changes and advice from Public Health England and from the University is issued. The Action Plan is contributed to by, and is available to, all key staff.

Some key elements of our Action Plan are outlined below.

Supporting students in Quarantine, Household-Isolation (HHI) and Self-Isolation (SI)

We have employed a Quarantine and Isolation Co-ordinator to oversee all students in any of these categories. Among other activities, our QI Co-ordinator organises food for students in Self-Isolation from the College Buttery. The QI team would be augmented in an outbreak.

Newnham has excellent kitchen facilities, and many students already self-cater some or all of the time when in Quarantine or HHI. We advise students to keep stocks of packet and tinned food (e.g. cereal, noodles, sauces, tea, coffee, dried fruit and nuts) in case their household need to go into Household Isolation or Isolation due to being a trace or close contact. We also advise students to keep a fortnight’s supply of medication and other essentials in stock. Those in SI due to having symptoms or a positive test result for COVID-19, are not allowed to use the communal kitchens during their SI period.

Laundry

For the academic year 2020-21, the laundry facilities (washing machines and tumble dryers) are free of charge.  Those in quarantine or HHI or SI will be provided with information on how to deal with your laundry.

Changes to College life

We would implement further measures depending on the extent of the outbreak and the latest advice from the Government, Public Health England and the University.

These might include further restrictions on visitors.

Accommodation in the event of the University going into ‘Red+’

The University and the colleges will, as ever, be guided by the advice of PHE and the country’s legislation.

Within these limits, all colleges are committed to providing accommodation to all students, on a case-by-case basis, who do not have any other home to go to, for example care-leavers, estranged students, and UK or international students who cannot travel to their own home town/country due to local travel restrictions. (These examples are not exclusive; all Colleges would do their best to help every student who have very good reasons for remaining in college.)

At Newnham, we are able to go beyond this and are planning on the basis that we would manage the University going into ‘Red+’ with all those students who wish to stay remaining in college, as long as this is possible under PHE advice and we can manage it safely. Students who remain in college in this event will have to comply with whatever Government lockdown rules are brought into effect.


Information for specific groups

Information for international students

For questions around travel, visas and immigration matters, please start with the University webpages for up to date information.

The #StaySafeCambridgeUni website has specific guidance for people travelling to Cambridge from overseas.

All students should check their email accounts regularly for information shared by the College, Department or Faculty, and the University.

Information for supervisors

Please check the Newnham Covid-19 ‘Guidelines for Supervisors on the use of College rooms’, circulated on behalf of the Senior Tutor in September 2020 and now on the SharePoint site. These include practical guidance on meeting with students in person.

To book supervision and meeting rooms, please contact the Conference Office: conference@newn.cam.ac.uk.

If you need to run a blended session with some participants physically present and others remote, new equipment in the shared teaching rooms in the Dorothy Garrod Building is available (OWL cameras, which can follow the conversation). This will make it easier to include remote attendees in in-person teaching sessions.

Useful material and guidelines for all those teaching remotely has been created by Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning, including specific guidance for moving supervisions online. This includes useful guidance on the IT choices you might make. If you need support accessing the recommended software and have not been given access via your Department, please talk to the College IT team (helpdesk@newn.cam.ac.uk).

Information for Fellows and Senior Members

The College have been in touch via email regarding returning to the College buildings (please see the latest risk assessment above). You will see some changes to the College buildings, and to our usual processes, for COVID-19 safety. These include changes to the way in which we use the College Library, the lunch arrangements and the use of the SCR.

Before you return to use your Fellow’s room, you will need to confirm via email that you have read and will follow the guidance.

We’d also strongly encourage you to look at the #StaySafeCambridgeUni website, and to follow the guidance shared there.

Information for Newnham College staff

Line managers have been sharing the latest College guidelines and risk assessments with staff (please see the latest risk assessment above).

The different types of work that people carry out and their personal circumstances mean that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s best to discuss your working practices with your line manager.

If you have queries or concerns, please speak to your Head of Department, Bev Gafney, Head of HR, or Wendy Evans, Domestic Bursar.