Union calls on University of Sheffield to scrap face-to-face teaching amid concerns for staff safety

The University of Sheffield is facing calls to suspend all in-person teaching until it can guarantee the health and safety of academic staff and ensure adequate coronavirus testing is in place.
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The Joint Campus Trade Unions representing academics and staff across the University of Sheffield has issued five key demands as concerns grow over a return to face-to-face teaching at the institution.

In an open letter to the University's Vice Chancellor Koen Lamberts, the joint unions said they are “deeply concerned” that in-person teaching could increase the spread of coronavirus and stressed the risk that it would have on staff, students, and the wider community.

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They called for risk assessments; no penalty for staff who opt out of face-to-face teaching; adequate testing; monitoring of Covid risk, health and wellbeing on campus; and support students to attend as they need to.

The Joint Campus Trade Unions are urging the University of Sheffield to abandon all face-to-face teachingThe Joint Campus Trade Unions are urging the University of Sheffield to abandon all face-to-face teaching
The Joint Campus Trade Unions are urging the University of Sheffield to abandon all face-to-face teaching
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The Joint Campus Trade Unions – which includes the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite the Union – said: “In these challenging times, staff have shown incredible unity, solidarity and community in supporting our fellow staff members and students.

"As the new academic year begins, however, we do not feel that our institution has shown staff the same level of support.

The Joint Campus Trade Unions claim the University has not put in place and ensured the delivery of “sufficient” health and safety practices for the start of the new semester.

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“No staff member should put themselves in a dangerous working situation,” the Joint Campus Trade Unions said.

They added: "The Campus Trade Unions deem health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students to be a priority concern and call upon the university to do the same.”

Last week the University of Sheffield told The Star that it was aware of one confirmed staff case of coronavirus and six confirmed student cases at present, with those affected and their households “quarantining as per government guidelines.”

It said: “The University has robust processes and procedures in place for positive cases including tracking and tracing to reduce onward transmission, communications to relevant staff and students and deep cleaning of affected areas where appropriate.”

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