Need to know – 8 September

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Here are the top updates from the Adaptation and Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Guidance on the extended teaching day

New guidance FAQs are available on the extended teaching day. Teaching will now be scheduled between 9am and 8pm, Monday to Friday including Wednesday afternoons. These steps have been agreed in order to provide for more face-to-face, on-campus teaching.

2. Advice and information for students

Student communications teams across the University have been corresponding with new and returning students, undergraduate and postgraduate, from overseas and the UK, to help prepare them for Semester 1. Information around Scottish Government guidelines, safe travel and arrival, what changes to expect on campus and in accommodation, and what is expected of them as good citizens, has all been communicated. You can view the Good Citizen Guide for students here and the Digital Citizen Guide here. Teams have also shared the ‘How to’ sessions, and the course options hub, to help prepare for hybrid learning and first meetings with PTs. In addition, students joining us online only, have been asked to update their location details to assist teaching staff managing hybrid classes.

3. Town Hall answers available

There were a high number of questions submitted prior to, and during, the first virtual all-staff Town Hall on 18 August. Although Peter and other members of the Senior Leadership Team addressed many of these questions during the session, not all topics were covered. The questions submitted have been split into themes and you can find the answers here.

4. New social spaces for students

A two-floor Scandinavian-style lodge in Bristo Square is one of several new spaces being created for students to safely interact between their studies. The spacious venues have been carefully designed to provide students with extra hospitality space, as capacity in buildings has been greatly reduced. The lodge is one of a number of covered structures known as Student Villages which will be assembled across the Edinburgh campuses this month.

What to expect from frontline services

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One of the most important aspects of managing the safe return of students and staff to campus has been to carefully review and update the provision of frontline services to ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place.

Colleagues from the Estates and Digital Infrastructure Work Stream have been working hard for months – in close liaison with Public Health Scotland – to put in place procedures that will be carried out by teams from Estates. These measures are in line with Scottish Government guidance and will be amended as advice changes.

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Knowledge exchange during physical distancing

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Edinburgh Research Office’ s Knowledge Exchange and Impact team work mainly with researchers in the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences to connect their work with policy makers, industry, practitioners and the public. Here Dr Shonagh McEwan, Knowledge Exchange Adviser, shares new resources and insights into knowledge exchange during physical distancing.

Over the past few months, we have seen our researchers pivot their research and knowledge exchange (KE) plans as a result of a global pandemic and new public health guidance. All of a sudden, online engagement became a crucial part, if not the only way, to do knowledge exchange.

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Black Lives Matter

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Earlier this year the murder of a black man in America sent shockwaves across the world. Despite a global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests began. Here in Edinburgh, socially-distanced crowds gathered in masks to show that coronavirus crisis or not, enough was enough. This week bulletin talks to Denise Boyle, HR Partner – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Caroline Wallace, Senior HR Partner – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, about how past months have shaped and influenced the work of their team.

“The events of this year – from the murder of George Floyd to the differential impacts of the coronavirus pandemic – have brought into sharp focus the reality of racism and racial inequalities in our daily lives,” says Caroline.

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COVID-19 test facility built from scratch at IGMM

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Dr Martin Reijns, Senior Research Fellow working in the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, was part of a team of University and NHS scientists who set up a COVID-19 diagnostics lab from scratch. Here Martin tells us how they did it.

Dr Martin Reijns is one of the scientists who took on a huge challenge at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – to transform University labs normally used for scientific research into a COVID-19 testing facility and to develop an accurate test. With NHS Lothian and his colleagues at the Medical Research Council Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, they created capacity for 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day for NHS patients in Scotland.

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Welcoming back our students

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Next week we’ll see the long-awaited return of some of our students. Although our campuses might not be the bright, bustling places they normally are come September, our staff have been working hard to make sure Welcome Week 2020 is as successful as ever. Here bulletin chats to Lesley Ross, Student Induction Manager in Student Recruitment and Admissions, about the challenges of organising the welcome period this year.

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Going to ground

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 Have you noticed yourself pulled to the ground recently? Do you find it easier to work from the floor? Do you even feel yourself wishing you were horizontal? Here Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain, talks us through the importance of the ground beneath us.

A few weeks ago, on a morning walk, I came across a spectacular carpet of morning glories. Otherwise known as bindweed, these marshmallow pink flowers grow rapaciously on scrubby ground in the summer months. True to their name, they are open and most glorious first thing, when the sun is up; by the afternoon they have folded in a tight pink whorl, waiting for the next beams of morning light. In gardens they are often uprooted, but if left undisturbed in farmland and hedgerows, they will roam over the ground without limit, like a green and pink web of delights for visiting bees and butterflies.

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Sport and Exercise facilities set to reopen

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Just as the rain and wind arrive to put a stop to our outdoor exercising, we were pleased to see our Pleasance and Easter Bush gyms reopen on Monday.

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Get involved with bulletin

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Over the past few months, we at bulletin have worked to bring you stories from across our University community. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.

We believe that our staff magazine has a role to play in keeping us connected while we are scattered across the city (and beyond). We want to continue to share your stories and provide a space for our staff to interact and support each other.

We are always looking out for more stories to publish, so please do send them in to us, whether you want to celebrate the work of your colleagues, explain how your team has adapted to new challenges, or even share an idea for a feature.

Let’s keep talking to each other.

You can email us anytime at

Need to know – 26 August

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Here are the top updates from the Adaptation and Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Information on face coverings

In line with Scottish Government guidance, it is now mandatory that face coverings are worn in all of our libraries and study spaces. If and when this guidance becomes stronger, we will adjust accordingly but we are already expecting everyone to wear face coverings in all University buildings unless individuals have good reasons for not wearing one.

2. Regular cleaning for teaching spaces

When the majority of our students return to campus in September and teaching begins, cleaning regimes and facilities will be increased across campus. Teaching spaces will be cleaned twice a day. Bookable study spaces will also be cleaned daily, with provisions available for students and staff to clean areas before and after they use them.

3. New queue management for September

To help us preserve physical distancing, students will be asked to queue outside a number of our most-used buildings before classes. To help us manage this, and to ensure that students can enter as quickly as possible, we are asking staff to ensure that all teaching finishes promptly at the designated time, and students are encouraged to leave the building swiftly.

4. Update on the King’s Buildings Shuttle Bus 

In light of recent Scottish Government guidance around walking, cycling and driving wherever possible and minimising use of public transport, and following consultation with Lothian Buses and other external travel providers, it will no longer be feasible or practical to run the King’s Buildings Shuttle Bus in this academic year. The University will instead be reinvesting the funds from the Shuttle Bus to provide an extended range of alternative and financially affordable travel options. You can find out more information on our Transport webpages.

Get ready for September: your teaching toolkit

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It seems incredibly strange to think that we’re coming up to the autumn of 2020 already. With most of us having spent the summer in our homes, it feels odd to emerge into this limbo where we’re all itching to get back to a sort of normal, but still unsure about what that will look like. Understandably, there’s a lot of anxiety around navigating the return to our campuses and a different approach to learning and teaching.

In our last issue we mentioned the new guidance to support Semester 1 planning on the Adaptation and Renewal sharepoint. In preparation for September, we wanted to share some of the resources that teams in the Students Work Stream have been creating to support our teaching staff and your students for the new semester.

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Town Hall recording available

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The recording of last week’s virtual staff Town Hall is now available to view on the Adaptation and Renewal sharepoint site and the answers to the questions you submitted will be shared here as soon as possible.

Photography: Laurence Winram

Technicians in the Time of Covid: Lab in Lockdown

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In the University of Edinburgh we have more than 1,000 technicians – highly trained and experienced individuals with diverse skills working across all subject areas. Across the UK the technical community has been recognised as being at the forefront of the higher education and research sector’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the start of the UK lockdown, we shared stories from our technicians about the experiences at the University, shining a light on the work that they do. Almost five months after we spoke to her, Sarah McCafferty, Research Technician in the Genetics Core at Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility, takes a look back at what it has been like for her to adapt to home working, and returning to the lab during lockdown.

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