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Covid-19 FAQs for staff

Coronavirus FAQs for staff

General queries

How is the College coordinating the response to Covid-19?

Overall strategy for our response to the pandemic is determined by a Covid Gold group, consisting of the College Council and Chaired by the Vice-Master. Implementation of that strategy is led by a Covid Silver group, chaired by the Domestic Bursar, which features a representative from all College departments and meets weekly. The Silver group's primary task is to discuss and plan the College's operational response to maintain the health and safety of students, staff, Fellows and visitors.

This structure has taken over from the initial Covid Committee which met daily on weekdays at the start of the lockdown period. It was chaired by Prof Ernest Laue, and included the Vice-Master, President, Lead Clinical Nurse, Senior Porter, Domestic Bursar, Head of Communications, Head of HR, Prof Miska (Tutor), and Prof Jiggins (Council).

Where can I find the latest information on the St John’s response to coronavirus?

Our Covid-19 Committee issues regular updates for students, staff and Fellows. They can be found on our website: https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus-information

St John's can confirm that it has complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19  and staying Covid-19-secure.

 

Staying Covid-secure

I need to work on site. What is the College doing to ensure that it is safe for me to do so?

In line with the government guidance, Covid-19 risk assessments are being undertaken to ensure that we assess and minimise risk to all members of the College community and put in place measures to ensure that the College is ‘Covid-19 secure’.

These measures include enhanced cleaning of communal areas and systems to ensure social distancing can be maintained wherever possible. The College has also distributed face masks to all staff currently working on site (see separate FAQ regarding face coverings).

Your Head of Department will do a risk assessment for your specific department and this review will be shared with you and your comments sought. You may have ideas you wish to feed into this process either now or on reading the departmental review. If this is the case, please do contact your Head of Department. Your manager will also complete a brief induction with you on your return to work on the College site and part of this will include discussing the risk assessment for your area.

Heads of Department will have determined, alongside their College Officers, whose attendance at the College site is required. If you have any questions, please contact your Head of Department.

Should I wear a face covering in College?

Face coverings should be worn in all parts of the College, whether inside College buildings or moving around the College site, and this includes the Buttery, the Library, the Chapel, in corridors, stairwells, and courts. This applies to all members of St John’s College and to visitors to the College unless you have an exemption.

Face coverings provide protection for other people where it is not possible to maintain appropriate social distancing. Two washable face coverings are available for all students, and each mask comes in a resealable plastic bag and includes fitting and washing instructions. You may wish to supplement this supply with your own face coverings.

Guidance on how to wear a face covering

View the Face Coverings Policy

What have students been told?

Many students and Fellows have followed our advice to leave College if it is safe, practical and appropriate for them to do so. For a great number of our students, Cambridge is their home. Student Services and the President’s Office have asked everyone who remains in residence to notify them so we can plan the practical support and advice required.   

What is happening about events in College?

All events for the foreseeable future have been cancelled and no guest room bookings will be accepted until further notice. 

Is College still open?

College is open to resident students, Fellows and staff working on site. Visits to College for recreational purposes are now also permitted for Fellows, staff, and resident students, including those living in College hostels or furnished lets – see below. The College is unfortunately still closed to members of the public, St John’s alumni and University alumni.

The Great Gate entrance to the College is closed as are all gates at the rear of College. Entrance to the College is therefore via the Forecourt entrance in Bridge St or via Cripps Lodge. The gate by Cripps into Magdalene College is also locked.

Can I bring guests into College? 

College members may bring members of their own household in to College for recreational visits.

Gatherings of more than six people who are not part of the same household are not permitted, and all visitors must comply with government and College rules to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19.

Visits to other households in College are not permitted.

What facilities are open?

Indoor sports in College (squash and badminton), the gym and the free weights room are all closed until further notice. The Bar, JCR and SBR are closed. The Buttery (BDR) remains open (see below) and the Library is open - see the Library FAQs. The Covid-19 Committee have agreed that Housekeeping will cease cleaning Fellows’ residential and office accommodation. The staff will be redeployed to increase the frequency of cleaning of heavily used and shared facilities e.g. toilets by the BDR.

The College Chapel is open for private prayer and reflection from 10am-5pm every day for members of College and their guests. Entry and exit is via the Chapel Court doors. Seating has been designated to allow for social distancing, and hand sanitiser is available on entry. Regular and ongoing cleaning will continue in the Chapel.

Is the Buttery open? 

The Buttery is now offering an Order Ahead service, where members of the College can place a cold food order in advance and collect items the next day from the College Bar. To order ahead, everyone will need to set up a Upay account where they can select their items in advance and book time slots for collection.

The Buttery is now also open for takeaway breakfast, lunch and dinner. College members will need to book a slot via Upay the day before to collect their lunch and dinner at certain times. It is not necessary to book for breakfast or to collect lunch between 11.30am and 12.30pm, and staff are encouraged to use this collection slot.

See the Buttery Updates page for full information and to learn how to open a Upay account.

Face coverings must be worn in the BDR and Bar when collecting food. 

Can I go punting?

Punt hire is now available. Punts will be cleaned from 10am each day ready for hiring, and availability is limited so bookings are restricted to current students, staff and Fellows. Please see the Porters' homepage for bookings, and read the punting hire guidelines. This will also be available on the St John's Punt Society webpage.

HR Queries

I have developed symptoms of Covid-19. What should I do?

Covid-19 symptoms include a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste. 

If you develop any of these symptoms, you should stay at home and:

  • inform your line manager immediately and complete this form 
  • you should arrange to take a test as soon as possible (please see the staff FAQ on this below). If you have difficulty obtaining a test, you can telephone 119.
  • you should stay at home and self-isolate for at least ten days or until you receive further instructions from the Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health or Infectious Diseases team following the test. 


You should inform your line manager of the test result as soon as possible. You may be required to provide evidence of the outcome of this test. 

If the test is positive, you should self-isolate at home for at least ten days, or until well for 48 hours (whichever is longer). If the test is negative, your manager will discuss with you when you can return to work.     

Where you are unwell, the College's usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply. The College’s sickness absence policy is contained in the staff handbook which is available on HR Online (https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/hr-online) or you can contact HR for a copy.  On your return to work, you should complete a self-certification form and send this to the HR team in the normal way.  

I have developed symptoms of Covid-19. Can I get a test and, if so, how?

In partnership with Addenbrooke's Hospital, from Wednesday 3 June, all University and College members, as well as members of your household (anyone with whom you share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen) will be able to obtain a PCR (swab) should they have symptoms of possible SARS-CoV-2 infection (Covid-19). 

The test involves a simple nose and throat swab and should take less than three minutes.

If you develop a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, or other flu-like symptoms such as sore throat or muscle aches, you should:

  • Call Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health on 01223 216767 (08:30 to 16:30 Mon-Fri), stating that you wish to be tested as part of the University of Cambridge’s testing programme
  • Inform your Line Manager immediately
  • Stay at home and self-isolate until you receive further instructions from the Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health or Infectious Diseases teams, in accordance with Public Health England (PHE) guidance.

    You will be offered a test at one of two locations:
     
  • S2 Testing Pods, Addenbrooke's Hospital – 8.30am-5pm Mon-Thurs and 8.30am-1pm Fri. Accessible by car, or bike while wearing a mask. If you are already on the Biomedical Campus, you can access the pods on foot while wearing a mask.
  • The Pod outside the Dyson Building, Department of Engineering, Fen Causeway entrance – 8.30am-2.45pm Mon-Thurs. Accessible by car, or bike/foot while wearing a mask.
     

Directions to both sites

If you develop symptoms outside these hours, or cannot access either of these two locations, you can arrange a test at an alternative location using the NHS website.

After you have been tested, please continue to self-isolate until you receive your result. This will be available within 48 hours of the test.

If your test result is positive, you will be called on the same day as the test by the Infectious Diseases team from Addenbrooke's Hospital. If your test result is negative, you will receive an email or text message from Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health within 48 hrs of the test. Please continue to self-isolate until you receive your test result.

The PCR test that will be used was developed in collaboration with the PHE laboratory at Addenbrooke's Hospital, and all results are integrated with the hospital system and reported to PHE.

This type of test checks whether you have Covid-19 at the time the swab is taken. There is another type of test (for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies) that checks whether you have previously been exposed to the virus. We do not offer that type of test, which is not yet widely available.

If you are required to self-isolate and you feel well enough to work, you should inform your manager as soon as possible and work from home.  If you are unable to work from home, or due to the nature of the symptoms you feel too unwell to work, you will receive College sick pay in line with government guidance on good practice. 

I fit the criteria of someone who is at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (Covid-19). What should I do?

If you are concerned that you may be at greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19, you should speak to your line manager. 

It should be noted that no one who is extremely clinically vulnerable and who is shielding on advice from a medical practitioner will be required to return to the workplace until after the shielding period has passed. The Government has paused the shielding requirements for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, but should you have any ongoing concerns please discuss these with your line manager.  Staff in this category should work from home or, where this is not possible, can return to the workplace following the guidance set out below:

Those who are currently working from home should continue to do so, unless you are required to attend College for operational reasons, in which case you will be advised of this by your Head of Department.

If you are required to attend the College, prior to returning to work on site, every member of staff will have access to the risk assessment undertaken for their department so that you are aware of the general measures in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace.

Your line manager will then complete a separate individual risk assessment with you if you are:

  • in the extremely clinically vulnerable or clinically vulnerable category;
  • have expressed concerns that you may be at greater risk of serious illness due to Covid-19; or,
  • have a member of your household who is shielding because they are extremely clinically vulnerable. The Government has paused the shielding requirements for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, but should you have any ongoing concerns please discuss these with your line manager.
     

This separate individual risk assessment form should be completed to identify and record how specific control measures will be implemented to protect you.

Once complete, this risk assessment should be reviewed regularly and updates made where applicable.

Please note, depending on the nature of your condition we may need to contact your GP at a later date for further guidance and advice.

If you do not wish to disclose your medical condition to your manager, you can contact HR.  Alternatively, you can contact the Lead Clinical Nurse in confidence for further advice.

I live with someone who is at increased risk from coronavirus (Covid-19). What should I do?

The Government has paused the shielding requirements for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, but should you have any ongoing concerns please discuss these with your line manager, following the guidance outlined above.

I need to self-isolate as someone in my household has symptoms.  Will I be paid?

If you live with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms but you remain well, you must remain at home for 14 days or until a negative test result is confirmed for the person you live with. You may be required to provide evidence of the outcome of this test.

Your line manager will explore with you whether you can work from home during this period, whether you could be given alternative duties where working from home is not possible, or whether the time will be treated as sick leave (in which case you will receive sick pay in accordance with the College’s sickness absence policy). If you receive sick pay, you should complete a self-certification form on your return to work which should be sent to the HR team.  

If you go on to develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should follow the advice above.

I have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

If you have had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days.  You may be required to provide further information, including evidence of the test. Further information on what constitutes a close contact is contained in Appendix 1 of the Self Isolation Guidance on HR online.

Your line manager will explore with you whether you can work from home during this period, whether you could be given alternative duties where working from home is not possible or whether the time will be treated as sick leave (in which case you will receive sick pay in accordance with the College’s sickness absence policy).  If you receive sick pay, you should complete a self-certification form on your return to work which should be sent to the HR team.  

If you go on to develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should follow the advice above.

I have been contacted by the Government’s ‘Test and Trace scheme’. What should I do?

If you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace team, you may be asked to isolate for 14 days. Under these circumstances you should not return to the workplace, even if you have not had any symptoms of illness. You may be required to do this on more than one occasion if told to do so by the NHS.  You may be required to provide evidence that you have been contacted by the NHS.

Your line manager will explore with you whether you can work from home during this period, whether you could be given alternative duties where working from home is not possible or whether the time will be treated as sick leave (in which case you will receive sick pay in accordance with the College’s sickness absence policy).  If you receive sick pay, you should complete a self-certification form on your return to work which should be sent to the HR team.  

If you go on to develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should follow the advice above.

Can I work from home?

Those who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice, unless you are required to attend College for operational reasons, in which case you will be advised of this by your Head of Department.

If you are working from home, you need to complete a risk assessment and there are some guidance notes that you need to read which are available on HR Online.

I am on furlough leave.  What does this mean?

The government  introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in light of the impact of the ongoing pandemic. Employees who are not able to work effectively from home can be placed on furlough leave with businesses then being reimbursed for a proportion of their salary costs. 

College Officers worked with their Heads of Departments to determine who from their areas should be placed on ‘furlough leave’ and these staff were contacted by their managers and received a letter with further details of the scheme.

Those placed on furlough leave continue to receive your full pay on the 20th of the month in the usual way.

Being placed on furlough leave is absolutely no reflection on the value that the College places on your work. It is a reflection of the changing work needs of the College during the Covid-19 emergency and the nature of certain roles means they cannot be effectively done from home.

The scheme has been extended in its current form until the end of July and with changes in relation to employer’s contributions until the end of October. If you are currently on furlough leave, you will remain so and your Head of Department will be in touch to advise you if and when the situation changes.

I am on furlough leave. Do I have to take annual leave?

We have been encouraging staff to take some time off as it is important for all of us to recuperate and recharge despite the current restrictions we all face. We have asked all staff to take at least 50% of their annual leave entitlement by 31 August 2020 regardless of whether they are currently still working on site, working from home, or on furlough leave and so your Head of Department will have been in touch with you about this.

Taking at least 50% of annual leave by the end of August means that staff will still have up to 50% of their leave to take in the final four months of the leave year. Please note that Bank Holidays and College closure days will be taken off your annual leave allowance in the usual way.  

The College intends to maintain the rule of a maximum carry-over of five days’ leave (pro rata for part-time staff) unless a member of staff has exceptional circumstances, for example related to coronavirus, that have made this impossible. Any exceptions will require the authorisation of the relevant Head of Department and College Officer and we would only expect this to apply to a small handful of roles across the College. 

Will I be getting any salary increases this year?

The increases to the Assistant staff pay spine, which were proposed as a result of a review into staff pay and were communicated at the staff briefing sessions earlier this year, will still be going ahead despite the current coronavirus pandemic and the significant loss of income suffered by the College as a result.

The changes that will be implemented include a 2% annual cost of living increase for Assistant staff on 1 August (or 1 May for those on Grade spine point 11 – Grade 1.2 and 2.1), an additional 2% increase across the entire pay spine on 1 October and an uplift to the grading structure which will specifically benefit the majority of Grade 1-4 members of staff, also on 1 October.

I travel to work on public transport. Can I still come in to work?

Where public transport travel is necessary, the government have advised that social distancing guidance must be followed and you must wear a face covering. Specific guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#public-transport

Staff who cannot work from home and need to travel to the College site, should instead choose to cycle, walk or drive, if possible, to minimise the number of people with whom they come into close contact.

The College has a cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme in place and we also provide access to secure cycle parking. Staff bicycles are registered with the Porters and can be parked at two conveniently accessible indoor storage facilities via a card entry system. We are also a member of Travel for Cambridgeshire (TfC) which offers a range of travel related discounts such as 10% off bicycles and accessories at certain stores. Further details can be found on HR Online.

There are a number of showers that can be used by staff who would like to cycle into work and these are located in the following areas:

  • 1 x 1st floor Forecourt Linen Room
  • 2 x Senior Guest Rooms ground floor E New Court
  • 3 x Senior Guest Rooms ground floor B New Court
  • 2 x ground floor I New Court 2 x each floor Junior Guest Rooms
     

If you wish to use a shower, please contact the Forecourt Porters’ Lodge to arrange collection of a key.

If you do not normally have a parking permit for College but wish to have one during this time, please contact Fiona Boston who will seek to allocate one to you if at all practicable.

What support is available for staff who feel anxious about family or friends who may be affected by coronavirus?

We recognise that many members of our staff may feel anxious about COVID-19 and we are keen to provide support.  The Wellbeing page on HR Online sign-posts the options of support available including access to a 24/7 advice and counselling helpline for those who are in Simplyhealth, links to self-help guides available on the University counselling service page and contact details for others who can offer wellbeing support within the College.

If staff have queries relating to COVID-19, they can contact Emma Manuel, Lead Clinical Nurse, whose contact details are available on the Wellbeing page. 

What happens if a dependant or close relative of mine dies of coronavirus?

Compassionate leave will be granted to an employee whose dependant or close relative dies from coronavirus.

The details of the Compassionate Leave policy can be found in the staff handbook which is available on HR Online or you can contact HR for a copy.

What if I have to quarantine for a period of time when I return to the UK from abroad?

You must comply with the latest Government advice regarding quarantine requirements when returning to the UK from abroad.  

If you are planning to go abroad, you should speak to your line manager to see if you can book the time off as annual leave or work from home during the quarantine period.  If you do not have enough leave or are unable to work from home, your manager may agree for you to take unpaid leave or to make up the time at a later date (or may agree a combination of these options, if this can be accommodated). If you are intending to travel abroad we advise that you carefully consider the latest Government advice concerning your destination and discuss with your line manager how you would cover any quarantine requirements in advance of your travel, bearing in mind that these may be introduced at short notice including after you have already commenced your trip abroad. 

The above will also apply should the government introduce any quarantine requirements following travel within the UK to a location that is in a localised lockdown.

How can I help?

·  Anyone who is able to help others is being encouraged to consider donating items or money to the Trussell Trust.

·  In Cambridge, food or financial donations can be made to Jimmy’s,  a charity that has been helping the homeless in the city for more than 20 years. 

·  The Red Hen Project is a small Cambridge based charity that works to support vulnerable families in the city. The charity has been providing food parcels to families in need during the lockdown.

·  Women’s Aid, a national charity, is concerned about the impact of coronavirus lockdown measures have on women and children and is encouraging donations as pressure on their services increase.

·  Supermarkets also have collection points for different charities and food banks.