Arrangements for Teaching in College in the Easter Term 2021

Outline principles, and planning for Step 3 of the Government Roadmap


1. In what follows, ‘supervisor’ refers to a Fellow of the College, or to someone else paid to teach St John’s undergraduates, who normally makes use of College rooms and/or other College facilities to deliver their teaching commitment.

2. The College recognises and seeks to honour Government, University and cross-college assurances that notwithstanding the decision to put lectures online this year, some supervisions and sessions of small group teaching may take place face to face during the Easter Term, provided that this teaching can be delivered safely.  All that follows relates to choices enjoyed by subjects which are permitted to offer face to face teaching at some point in the Easter Term.   Subject to safety guidelines, indoor face to face teaching will be permitted in most subjects from a date not earlier than 17 May, under Step 3 of the Roadmap.

3. The College respects the fact that some supervisors and supervisees will prefer or require remote or outdoor face to face teaching as currently permitted under Step 2, and that a significant number of students are not in Cambridge during the Easter Term.  If the supervisor puts forward a preference for the arrangement, or if the supervisee is out of Cambridge or makes a compelling case for remote teaching based on medical or other need, the supervision will take place remotely.

4. As always, Directors of Studies control choice of supervisor, regardless of the preferred mode of teaching.  They cannot compel supervisors who normally teach from rooms in St John’s to teach face to face, and they cannot compel supervisees to be taught face to face, either indoors or out of doors.  Once an agreement to teach has been confirmed, the narrow logistics of a particular supervision should be arranged by the supervisor.

5. Arrangements depend for their success on clear and timely notification by supervisors of arrangements made for teaching in the College, on the cooperation of supervisees, and on clear and timely confirmation of those arrangements by relevant members of College staff.

6. In order to ensure that appropriate cleaning arrangements are in place, supervisions taking place in public rooms of the College must be booked at least a working day in advance.

7. Students should never assume that the supervisor can accede to a request to reschedule any supervision, but this rule applies with particular force to face to face teaching this term.  If a face to face supervision is arranged, indoors or out of doors, and the student then fails to attend due to anything other than a cause accepted by the supervisor, the supervisor is under no obligation to deliver the teaching in another format or at another time.

8. Supervisors can move supervisions from their own room to a public room, if one is bookable, or to an outdoor location, but cannot move the other way, save in exceptional circumstances where the logistics of cleaning and the risk assessment have been fully addressed.  If they wish to change a teaching arrangement from a public room, they should normally move to outdoor teaching or to remote teaching.

9. Remote supervision is recognised to be the College’s fall-back position if government advice or locally prevailing conditions necessitate a reduction in or cessation of face to face teaching.

Operational Planning

1. Noting that we must hold to these choices once made, the College will establish by the date announced for the introduction of Step 3 of the Roadmap or as soon as possible thereafter if a supervisor:

  1. Wants to teach remotely, or face to face in outdoor settings;
  2. wants to teach only in a bookable College public room, noting that most of these rooms are reserved for exams and study spaces during the main Easter Term examination period;
  3. wants to teach exclusively from their College room; or
  4. prefers a mixture of the above, and can specify the nature of that mix.

The College will do all it reasonably can to facilitate the supervisor’s choice.

  1. Tutors, Academic Administrators and Student Services staff will alert Directors of Studies to any special supervision needs known to them, especially to cases which will require remote teaching arrangements.
  2. The College will update risk assessments for each public room and covered outdoor space used for regular teaching, and will put these assessments on a site accessible to both supervisors and students.
  3. The College will also carry out or update risk assessments of supervisors’ College rooms identified under 1 iii and iv above, putting these assessments on the same site as those in 3.  The Academic Administrators take the lead in such work.
  4. All risk assessments and arrangements based on them will recognise ventilation and social distancing rules and guidelines.  As of 3 May the social distancing measure to be adopted remains two metres.
  5. Until the end of the main examination period, the cleaning of public rooms available for teaching will be offered at the start and end of each day, and if possible between supervisions, throughout the seven-day week.
  6. A cleaning service will be offered to supervisors who wish to use their own rooms for teaching, provided that the need is known well in advance, that the supervisors stick to prearranged teaching/cleaning routines, and that the supervisors offer access to their rooms at all necessary times. A cleaning service will be offered at the start and end of the day, up to seven days a week. This can be supplemented with cleaning equipment placed in the room and long-lasting treatments for high-touch areas and surfaces, plus instructions for its use.
  7. The College offers supervisors who teach in their rooms or in outdoor settings access to a small stock of additional stackable hard-surface chairs which are easily cleaned and which will allow different seats to be used through a sequence of supervisions. These chairs should be returned by supervisors to the point of collection when no longer required.
  8. As wider advice and good counsel currently dictates, face coverings will be worn whenever appropriate at face to face supervisions and small group teaching, in line with current University and Colleges’ joint statements on face coverings.  Windows will where possible be opened to facilitate ventilation when teaching indoors.
  9. In order to comply with track and trace or equivalent regulations currently in place, the Tutors request that all those who teach face to face in the College, whether outdoors, in public rooms, or in their own rooms, keep records of who was taught when, and report such details to the College whenever asked to do so, in ways to be identified by the Head Porter and others. Such records need normally be retained for a limited period. They can be destroyed before the end of the Long Vacation 2021.
  10. Postgraduate Johnian students who are asked to teach for the College should wherever possible be directed by Directors of Studies to use public rooms or outdoor locations, or to teach remotely.

Dr Mark Nicholls, Senior Tutor

May 2021