University announces ‘5 Tests’ model to reopen buildings


Durham University has announced their plan to reopen University buildings safely, in an email to all students. The reopening will use a “5 Tests” model.

The email was sent by Professor Claire O’Malley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global). 

The first test is that “the building or location is ready”, meaning all estates management tasks must be completed to allow reoccupation.

The second test is to ensure that “The building or location can be kept safe,” meaning resources, including equipment and people, are readily available so as to keep the building clean and safe.

The third test requires that “Social protection measures can be followed”, in line with government guidance on social distancing.

The fourth test is to ensure that “external resources required to maintain health, safety, welfare and activities can be obstained.” This means that the University must have a ready supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene resources, and waste removal. 

Finally, the fifth test requires that the reopening of the building must be in the University’s interests. This means that reopening buildings is not to “the detriment of other health, safety, welfare or strategic objectives.”

On top of the announcement regarding the reopening of University buildings, the email also included information about the celebration of graduation. 

In addition to the Congregation Ceremonies which are planned for graduates next Easter, the University noted that it would celebrate graduation online. This would include videos from the Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen, and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge, which will be posted on the University’s YouTube page in August.

The email also included new information about the University’s strategy for foreign travel. 

Whilst noting that “International Travel is an important part of study and research for staff and students”, O’Malley said that travel requests, all of which must be approved by the University, cannot yet be approved due to changes to the University’s insurance cover due as a result of Covid-19.

However, the email stated that the University anticipates an imminent change in this advice, which would make travel possible again.

Further details on the University’s travel policy will come in a future email. 

More information about the University’s health and wellbeing information can be found here.

Image: Andreas Polydorides (@follow.andreas on Instagram)

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