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UCU response to prime minister's new Covid restrictions statement

22 September 2020

Responding to the prime minister's statement, in particular his call for universities to remain open, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'For Boris Johnson to say that universities should stay open whilst we are seeing reports of Covid-19 outbreaks on campuses throughout the UK is an abdication of responsibility and it shows how disconnected he is from the facts on the ground.

'Our institutions never closed, even during the national lockdown. Staff moved teaching online and continued to deliver for their students and support them. The prime minister should go back to that arrangement and instruct all staff to work from home.

'The stark warnings yesterday about the increased number of cases and deaths supports UCU's position that if we are to stem the spread of the virus, we must reduce in-person activities at universities.

'We have been warning for weeks that without urgent action, it will be impossible for universities to avoid becoming incubators of Covid-19, with university communities becoming transmission hotspots. We are now seeing that happen with outbreaks in universities. If this government is serious about reducing the number of confirmed cases then it must now tell universities to abandon in-person teaching.

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