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Coronavirus information

Preparing for Semester 1

These pages were developed as the pandemic unfolded in early 2020. For the latest information about how we are safely welcoming students and staff back in September 2020, please see our updates here.

For staff and current students, risk assessments and other health and safety information can be found on iCity (login required).

Skip to the information relevant for you:

Last updated: Tuesday 5 May

Coronavirus panel - staff

Staff and current students

This page will be kept up-to-date as and when the situation for Birmingham City University staff and current students changes.

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Coronavirus panel - applicants

Applicants and offer holders

This page will be kept up-to-date as and when the situation for Birmingham City University applicants and offer holders changes.

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General enquiries

What is coronavirus and COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus?

Do:

wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
always wash your hands when you get home or into work
use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don't:

touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If you believe you might be at risk, you can call NHS 111 or use the dedicated online tool. Government advice asks anyone with a new persistent cough or high temperature to self-isolate for seven days, as the UK government moves to the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus.

The World Health Organization has detailed updates on its website about the current worldwide situation.

What can I do while the country is in lockdown?

The Government has outlined that you should only leave your house for the limited purposes only:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

Read more about what you can and can’t do on the Government website.

What is the University doing about coronavirus?

The University set up its first dedicated task force on Monday 20 January 2020 due to our strong links with the city of Wuhan, Hubei province including two University partnerships. This group is led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Clare Mackie and includes key staff from all relevant areas of the University. It has been meeting regularly and updating staff and students with information and evidence supported by advice from Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Education. We have since established a number of other groups to ensure we are considering all implications for our University community.

These groups have been working to safeguard staff and students as far as possible from the spread of the virus.

What steps have been taken so far?

Initially, we remained in close contact with students and staff who study/deliver our degrees in China and those students and staff who may have recently returned to the UK from Wuhan or Hubei Province, as well as our partners in Wuhan. The initial group worked with staff based in Wuhan at the time of the initial shutdown, and kept in close communication with both them and students returning from China, to ensure both their safety and well-being, and that of the wider university population.

We have ensured all affected staff and students – whether they are from areas most affected or have friends and family in those areas – are supported by our well-being teams and relevant counselling services. The group has also worked extremely closely with halls of residence partners to ensure students based there receive appropriate advice, care and support, and has also put in place measures to review all business travel before staff leave the country. Additional hand sanitiser was ordered and received at the beginning of February then distributed across all university buildings.

More recently, we have suspended all face-to-face teaching on our campuses with immediate effect. Academic staff have been moving as much teaching material online as possible with support from the teams across their faculties. From Monday 30 March, we will be teaching online for the rest of this semester.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23 March, we closed our campuses with immediate effect to all staff and students. This included the closure of libraries and all other facilities, however student accommodation remains open at present.

We are constantly reviewing Government advice in light of the changing situation. Any relevant updates will be posted here or in the intranet page for staff.

How do I keep updated about the latest University information about coronavirus (COVID-19 outbreak)?

This page will be kept up-to-date as and when the situation for Birmingham City University staff, students and visitors changes. Staff can also see regular updates on the intranet page. For all up-to-date details about coronavirus, the Government web pages are being frequently updated.

Students should also check their BCU email regularly for updates, while staff will continue to receive messages in the Tiger Today newsletter.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases amongst our staff or student body. Should this change, we will immediately offer advice to staff and students about next steps.

A message from the Vice-Chancellor