In response to the Registrar’s sharing the very serious situation that we have, with staff and students, of massively rising cases numbers in his email this afternoon, we have shared the following:
- We are very glad that this information has been made available to staff and students today and hope that we (along with other campus trade unions) can have sight of all the data going forward as requested in our email to the VC yesterday.
- Inspired by Exeter’s promise to have a dashboard in place by last week, the dashboard that Bath now have. To date, of the 90 Universities with cases reported, 18 now have dashboards, with 3 more promised: enabling staff and students to see up to date university-wide data (in the case of Edinburgh this is daily data). At Exeter, many staff and students will have already looked at the DCC website, but, will have not known until today (although, they would have suspected) the true number of cases associated with the university, we also note there is a lag in this data. A university dashboard like the one above would be ideal.
- You mention in your email this afternoon that you “are keeping our approach to teaching under constant review and, in the continued absence of any evidence to date of onward transmission associated with face-to-face teaching, we are maintaining our blended learning model” there is evidence from the USA, in particular from Yale, that this is a risk that cannot be ignored, with reports of transmission within a classroom in spite of masks, 2m distancing, and good ventilation. It is now well established that micro-aerosols can hang in the air for hours, and consequently represent a real risk even with ventilation (Nature, NY Times, The Guardian).
- Sharing more granular data, does not need to include personal data that would identify individuals, but it would pick up on clustering of cases, it is also vital to know if cases being reported are in the student or staff population. We would also like to draw your attention to the very large number of asymptomatic cases found at Northumbria university, where only 78 were symptomatic. We think it would be reasonable to assume we will have a similar percentage of asymptomatic cases at Exeter.
- Finally, it is of great concern to all of us, that we are now listed in the top 10 of covid hotspots (see also Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw’s concerns being raised).
We are now awaiting a response from the Vice Chancellor with respect to our request for information, we need to be kept regularly and fully updated.