We want to recognise the effort of the different teams across Estates and Facilities for their work to support the University shutdown.
Shutting down the estate, maintaining essential services
Colleagues across Estates Operations have been busy, particularly with preparing for the closure of most buildings. They have been supporting services with staff who still need to access the campus, maintaining statutory compliance to protect buildings and remaining occupants, and also planning for the eventual re-opening of services, which in itself will be a huge undertaking. Grounds and Gardens and Handy gang staff have also been helping move, offload and store essential items, including hospital beds, in support of the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust.
The Water Hygiene team, ably assisted by volunteers from across the Maintenance team, have been working daily throughout the estate to ensure water services remain safe and secure. Similarly, the Fire Alarm team is working in the majority of buildings to maintain life safety systems protecting them against the risk of fire whilst unoccupied. The Asbestos team and Health and Safety team have also been coming on to campus for business-critical work only.
The Generating Station Complex (GSC) remains a key service provider to the University and the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust. The present crisis means that the operation of this facility is more critical than ever. Consequently, key members of the Operations team have been tasked with focusing exclusively on planning (with the contractor Engie) the continued safe operation of all services from the GSC with an emphasis on serving the hospital as the critical partner.
The lockdown does present a unique opportunity for us to better understand how energy is used across campus. The Engineering team have been working to carry out the planned shutdown of non-essential facilities to reduce the University’s energy demand to a minimum. This will help reduce wastage and running costs and help inform any future works required to address the University’s net-zero carbon challenge.
Our campus development projects have also been placed on hold. For the immediate future, we have stopped work on most of our campus developments, refurbishment and improvement projects, except for projects where the contractor feels they can safely continue whilst closely following the Public Health England recommendations. These projects include the Sir William Henry Bragg Building and The Esther Simpson Building. The teams are currently assessing the impact of delaying projects and continuing to develop ways to be in a position to tender schemes once there is more clarity about future activity on campus.
Keeping campus safe
As one of the essential services that remain working on campus during the shutdown, the Security Services have been ensuring that campus buildings and facilities remain safe and secure. Security have stepped up high visibility patrols of campus to act as a deterrent to crime and the team are managing access to buildings across campus to ensure that they are available to essential workers.
Security have also taken steps to ensure that staff and students still on campus can access face-to-face advice and support whilst still adhering to social distancing guidelines. A new 24/7 WhatsApp video call service has been set up on 07876 866747, for anyone who needs to speak directly to a security officer. If support is needed in person then the Security Office remains open as an essential service during the shutdown.
Jo Hynes, Deputy Director of Estates & Facilities Services, said: “The Security team are truly a leading example of our values. They are going above and beyond to ensure the safety of the campus and be a first point of contact for all enquiries. They’re supporting students who are still living in residences and are managing essential contractor access. All of this whilst having to work differently themselves and maintain good practice in terms of social distancing and their own safety. Thank you to all the officers and staff!
“A special thanks as well from the whole security team to Catering Services and Bev Kenny. They have very kindly provided meals throughout this period, making the officers feel appreciated. In the current circumstances gestures like this help a lot!”
Managing health and safety
Colleagues from Health and Safety Services have also been supporting work across the FD from managing contractor access and induction at the beginning of the shutdown to developing and managing risk assessments for the essential activities that teams are performing. They have also developed proactive guidance on health-related issues and how best to accommodate the demands of working remotely.
Helpdesk, Office Support and Car Parking
To prepare for the relocation of FD staff from campus to working from home, the Office Support team have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to ensure that we have had sufficient IT hardware and access to software. The team are continuing to support with day-to-day activities of the FD, which includes ensuring staff are kept up to date during these fast-moving events, logging urgent work orders onto SAP and maintaining records of completion dates which are critical to ensuring that the physical infrastructure of the University is maintained during this shutdown.
To help support NHS staff working at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, the FD has offered free use of the parking facilities on campus. This will enable more NHS staff to travel to the hospital via car and avoid the risks of travelling on public transport during the current lockdown. The car parks are also now free to use for any University staff who are still coming onto campus as essential workers during the shutdown.
Keeping campus clean
Cleaning Services continue to have a cohort of staff who are providing essential support to activities that are still taking place on campus. This includes areas such as the Dental Hospital and Worsley Building, laboratories being used to support the NHS’s efforts to combat coronavirus and buildings where other essential staff are working. The team continue to manage the clinical waste process on campus, as well as ensuring external areas of campus are kept clean and tidy.
In the coming weeks, the team will be working on a plan to remobilise the campus for when the current isolation rules are lifted. These plans will include a standard deep clean to ensure that all University students and staff have the best experience when they arrive back on campus.
Impact on Central Teaching Space
The team are constantly in touch and are busy working from home. As the University determines how teaching will be delivered in the first semester of the new academic year the team will be assessing the impact on central teaching space facilities and the potential increased demand for lecture capture and live streaming facilities.
Planned refurbishments of teaching spaces have been paused and using data from the Condition Audit and from Timetabling, consideration will be given to maximise the best use of space.
Updates on the University response to Coronavirus can be found at coronavirus.leeds.ac.uk