Introduction

Although legal restrictions have been lifted and our Milton Keynes campus is open, our priority remains the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, volunteers and staff. This guidance is provided to support organisers and attendees of events, meetings and activities to minimise the risk of contracting and/or spreading infectious disease, whether that’s COVID or other contagious illnesses.

 

Students coming onto the Milton Keynes campus and/or into the office

The Milton Keynes Campus is open. Before attending campus, it is important to liaise with the organiser regarding any specific health and safety measures that may apply at the time. Please also refer to the 'General safety measures' guidance below.

The Association is currently trialling a maximum flexibility approach to working, to hold on to the benefits and learning from the recent pandemic, while also supporting and trusting staff to deliver business needs around varying personal circumstances. Staff are fully enabled to work from home, or our office, or other locations. Current spacing in the office means we have limited availability of shared workstations, which are booked in advance of use.

If students are therefore coming onto campus for an OU meeting, or any other reason, and want to take the opportunity to visit the Association offices to meet up with staff members, this will need to be arranged in advance with the relevant member(s) of staff.

For reasons of safety, students may not come into the Association offices without prior arrangement. This is for insurance and health and safety reasons. The only exception to this is for the President and Deputy President (as employees of the Association) who will have access to our workstation booking system.

For places to work for the day on the Milton Keynes campus, we suggest either the Library or the Hub (the central catering facility). Please contact a member of the Association team if you need further advice.

Meeting rooms should be booked for conversations likely to last more than a few minutes to avoid disturbing others, and/or where confidentiality needs to be maintained.

Please note: the detail above applies to the Milton Keynes campus and our offices. Nation offices are not currently open to students, and the Association does not have desks or bookable spaces in these venues.

 

Deciding whether a meeting should be online, face-to-face or hybrid

The Chair, event leader, or organiser should decide the best format for a meeting or event, taking account of the purpose, aims and local conditions at the time etc.

We suggest a possible list of considerations could include:

  • Purpose, aims and facilitation of the meeting/event – is there a business need to come together in person or online?
  • Location and venue options – could the meeting/event be successfully run in the preferred manner (e.g., does the venue have the space and/or technical facilities to run in hybrid?
  • Will all attendees be able to contribute, in a manner that allows them to feel part of the discussions? Does the Chair, organiser or event leader feel able to manage the meeting/event in the preferred manner?
  • Have you identified or have access to a budget for agreed expenditure to cover any expenses or venue considerations etc?
  • What are the local conditions prevailing at the time around COVID or other considerations?
  • Can the intended meeting/event outcomes be achieved in a hybrid or online setting?
  • Does the meeting/event warrant travel for those taking part?
  • Have the views of attendees been taken into consideration?
  • Consider a regular/forward schedule – e.g. one meeting face-to-face, the rest hybrid (or vice versa).
  • Consider your sustainability and carbon footprint, and the Association’s approach to climate change.

 

General safety measures

COVID-19 remains a risk and we can all play our part in managing the risk for ourselves and protecting others. If you, or a member of your household, has COVID symptoms or a positive test result, please stay at home.

Please also stay at home if you are ill or suspect you are ill with anything that may be contagious.

When meeting face-to-face, please consider: 

  • Taking a lateral flow test on the morning of (or the night before) your face-to-face meeting – only attend if the result is clearly negative.
  • Wearing a face mask or shield when moving around corridors and shared spaces (recommended although no longer mandated on the MK campus).
  • Maintaining social distancing as far as possible, in consideration for others.
  • Using hand sanitiser on entry to and exit from each space. 

 

OU meetings

Central Committee Representatives and elected representatives are encountering different approaches to meetings arranged by the OU. In the first instance, representatives should contact the Committee Secretary for the latest position and approach for their meetings. If student representatives have any concerns regarding accessibility, expenses, the approach or inclusiveness, please contact the Volunteering and Representation team in the first instance.

 

Meet-ups

Meet-up hosts may choose to arrange Meet-ups in person, continue to arrange for their meetings online, or a combination of the two. There is no obligation to revert to 'in person' events.

If the Meet-up host chooses to hold a Meet-up in person, they MUST:

  1. Check local COVID guidance and only arrange an in-person Meet-up if supported by local/regional guidance in place at the time.
     
  2. Complete a safety tick-list and follow the Meet-up guidance provided by the Student Community team.

It is further RECOMMENDED that:

  1. Attendees are encouraged to take a lateral flow test before attending, and should only attend if the test is clearly negative.
     
  2. Attendees should NOT attend if they feel unwell at all (even if not COVID related) to minimise the risk of spreading any illness.
     
  3. Attendees are encouraged to act in accordance with the face-mask policy for the venue where the Meet-up is taking place, and at all times to respect others’ rights to wear a face-mask and maintain social distancing (where appropriate).
     
  4. Hosts to consider alternating between a face-to-face Meet-up and an online Meet-up to ensure those who are unable to, or are uncomfortable with meeting in person, still have a regular opportunity to connect with fellow students.
     

Society and Club activities

It is up to Societies and Clubs to follow their own risk assessment process to inform decisions about whether to meet in person and/or resume face-to-face activities. Decisions should be informed by the local context, as well as following regional and/or national guidelines in place at the time.

Please refer to the Meeting guidance page for information about specific meetings, activities and events. As further information becomes available, we will aim to update this.

Covid Recovery Group
May 2022