Staff are encouraged to continue working from home if possible but increasing numbers of staff spend at least some time back at the laboratory and arrangements for their safety and to avoid the spread of the coronavirus remain in place. For details please see the regular Friday emails from the SAMS directorate.

Risk assessment SSW CV-19 v008

Undergraduate teaching in the autumn/winter term 2021 will blend face-to-face with virtual sessions. 

The Ocean Explorer Centre is open to up to four group of visitors at a time who are asked to wear masks, keep a 2m distance from other groups and use the hand gel and wipes available when touching displays. 

For the latest information from the University of the Highlands and Islands on Covid-19 please visit

The SAMS Covid-19 response is coordinated by our deputy director, Professor Axel E J Miller (Mob: 07824 777732). 


Last update: 1 September 2021

We are complying fully with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. This includes using risk assessments to carefully plan and enable key activities to resume across all aspects of our work. Our latest risk assessment is available to download here: Risk assessment CV-19 v007

Managing the return to work

We are managing essential and critical activities for staff and postgraduate students that they cannot complete at home.

We shall ensure social distancing by continuing to use technology to replace face-to-face meetings where possible.

Temporary offices have been created to provide greater space for those who share rooms.

Face coverings will be used when using shared spaces outside of laboratories and offices.

We shall continue to ask workers to respect others and to avoid the unnecessary use of the cafes and gathering in shared spaces, including corridors.

The latest guidance for working at SAMS during Coronavirus is available here: General coronavirus guidance v005 (27 Aug 21)

Hygiene procedures

An enhanced cleaning schedule is being put in place covering common touchpoints across the site like corridor doors and lifts. We shall encourage doors (not including fire doors) to be propped open to reduce the need to contact potentially contaminated surfaces and ensure good air circulation. Cleaning materials for staff to use are available at photocopiers and in cafes and other common areas.

We shall continue to promote handwashing as one of the most effective tools to control the virus and shall ensure stocks of hygiene supplies are maintained. We will endeavour to maintain adequate stocks of hand sanitisers where handwashing facilities are not readily available but recognise there are prioritised sectors in the UK which may have a greater need.

Maintaining the health and safety of homeworkers

We shall continue to help people to work from home where this is possible. This includes making resources available to support the physical and mental health of workers and providing IT support.

Staff and students are regularly reminded to remain in touch with their colleagues and to report any concerns or difficulties.

A checklist that staff and postgraduate students can use to assess their homeworking setup is available here.


Enabling work in the laboratory and the field

With the backing of senior management, Laboratory Managers, the Ships Master and the Ships Operations Manager have put in place procedures to allow their spaces to be used safely.

This has included implementing booking systems to manage worker numbers, using designated workstations that maintain 2m distance between colleagues and carefully managing shared resources across the site.

Only where the risk of infection cannot be maintained by other means has consideration been given to the use of additional face coverings and PPE.

Extra cleaning materials have been made available for workers to use on shared equipment. Laboratory Managers may introduce additional measures to reduce cross contamination with equipment such as the use of disposable PPE and temporal spacing where other controls are not suitable.

Working safely in the labs beyond level 0 v005

Working safely on vessels and during fieldwork beyond level 0 v004


Maintaining health and safety standards

SAMS will ensure that the risks on site through fire, water hygiene and equipment safety are managed through the normal inspection, maintenance and testing of systems. Additional maintenance measures will be put in place for the little used areas of buildings.

The impact that reduced staff numbers may have on the management of fire safety, first aid and other critical areas such as radiation safety will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

Additional guidance and PPE is made available to reduce the possible risk of infection where a first aider may be required to attend an injured person.

For the latest information from the university on Covid-19 please visit


We are currently revising our guidance in response to the developing situation. This will be issued here shortly.

Most communication between UHI, SAMS and our students is sent by e-mail. It is the students' responsibility to check their e-mails reguarly.

If you develop symptoms and live with others, the person who has symptoms should stay at home for 10 days from the day their symptoms started. Please inform (undergrads) or Anna Kane (postgrads) if you develop symptoms or are self-isolating. More on self-isolation...

You should arrange a test through NHSinform. All other household members should isolate as a household even if they don’t have symptoms themselves and get a PCR test. If you’re over 18 years and 4 months and have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine AND your test comes back negative, you can leave isolation. If you’re under 18 years and 14 months, if your PCR test is negative you can leave isolation.


Support with Mental Health and Domestic Abuse

If you normally access student support, this will also continue via Polly Crooks and / or your Personal Academic Tutor.  This will be through telephone, Microsoft Teams or Skype.

Students arriving from overseas

The Scottish Government has put in place controls for people arriving into Scotland from overseas. Please familiarise yourself with this important document if you are intending to travel.


Postgraduate research students

Please follow instructions for staff. Keep your supervisor and the SAMS graduate school informed about any issues and changes in circumstances


Postgraduate research students

Please follow instructions for staff. Keep your supervisor and the SAMS graduate school informed about any issues and changes in circumstances. 

Student accommodation

If you have a query regarding accommodation for the new academic year, please send an email to


Our main communication avenue with staff is by email, and email updates supercede any information given here.

If you suspect you or someone you care for might have contracted Covid-19, you must follow Scottish Government advice. Please inform HR and your line manager and add sick leave to Ciphr. If you have displayed symptoms, you must not return to work for 10 days.

Staff who are feeling well should protect themselves against infection by following government advice. The latest SAMS guidance for general working can be found here:

Homeworking protocol and checklist, available through the HR policy on the SAMS intranet

Support with Mental Health and Domestic Abuse

All overseas business travel for SAMS staff and students must be in line with current policy: Overseas travel during the coronavirus pandemic v003. Any UK travel must be in line with a risk assessment.

Tenants share the facilities with SAMS. All tenant access to the site should be in line with the latest Scottish Government guidance. 


Emergency contact details: Security phone (07767 245164) or Professor Axel Miller (07824 777732)

Our stores remain open for deliveries.

Essential contractors and visitors will be able to access the site - please liaise with your host.

All visitors to the site will be given information on their visit by their host.

Our Ocean Explorer Centre remains closed.

Our subsidiary company SAMS Enterprise continues its operations and can be contacted through email.

We understand that for some, self-isolation at home may be an extremely difficult and challenging time. During the Coronavirus pandemic, there has sadly been increased national focus on mental health and domestic abuse. Tragically, authorities and charities have seen considerable increases in emergency interventions and those seeking help.

Please know that help is available and SAMS is here to support our staff and students in every way possible.

From Welfare Officers and Student Support Services to listings of support organisations and resources, SAMS is here to help where we can. Please click the relevant links below to visit our new mental health and domestic abuse support web pages:



Gender-Based and Sexual Violence

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, help is available.

You should not delay seeking help or reporting domestic abuse because of the current Coronavirus situation. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse and needs help, call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse 24hr helpline on 0800 027 1234 or visit

If you feel someone is in immediate danger call 999. #YouAreNotAlone.

The UHI gender-based and sexual violence webpage also has an extensive list of local and national support organisations.

Advice for people who are abusive to their partners

If you recognise that you are hurting your loved ones and are worried about your behavior, there is support available that can help you to take control of your actions and become safe around your family.


Freephone: 0808 8024040

Respect is an anonymous and confidential helpline for those who are harming their families. They offer help for domestic abuse perpetrators who want to change, giving confidential advice & support to help you stop being violent. A webchat service is available Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10am to 11am and 3pm to 4pm.


Mental health charity Mind also has a web page offering help and advice for abusive and violent behavior and links to support organisations.


Experiencing such rapid change in our daily lives can be overwhelming and affect how we feel. We understand that for some, self-isolation at home may be an extremely difficult and challenging time.

Please know that help is available and SAMS is here to support our staff and students in every way possible.

From Welfare Officers and Student Support Services to listings of support organisations and resources, SAMS is here to help our staff and students manage their mental health during such uncertain times. Please click the relevant links below to visit our new mental health and domestic abuse support web pages:




All of our students and staff have access to Togetherall (formally Big White Wall) which is a digital mental health support service which is available online, 24/7, and is completely anonymous so you can express yourself freely and openly.

Professionally trained Guides monitor the community to ensure the safety and anonymity of all members. In addition to the online community, you will have access to a wealth of useful resources and can work through tailored self-help courses covering topics such as anxiety, sleep, weight management, depression and many more.

For information on how to register, head to

SAMS has been providing asymptomatic COVID testing since December 2020. Currently, there are two programs available for all staff and students who regularly attend site.

Please remember that participation in testing is still voluntary but we strongly encourage you to join in.

Everyone not currently working regularly on site is still able to order home test kits through the NHS. Details of how to do this are available here.

You must not request a test if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 but should rather immediately contact the NHS to book a test. You should not request a test if you are self-isolating because of contact with a confirmed case. 

Rapid antigen testing using lateral flow devices

SAMS is able to issue lateral flow home testing kits. These are not the same as PCR tests.

Those of you who have been regularly attending tests on site will already be very familiar with how the lateral flow tests work. The only significant differences with the home tests are that you will process the swab and register the result with the NHS yourself. Similarly, if you have already used test kits at home, there is no difference in the devices that SAMS will be giving out. You are still encouraged to take a test twice a week where possible and these kits are only to be used if you are currently asymptomatic.

To collect a kit from SAMS, please follow these steps:

Read through the information below:

LFD Home Testing Information

LFD Home Testing Privacy Notice

NHS - An Introduction to Rapid Self-Testing for COVID-19

Please contact with any questions you may have, or chat with one of the on-site test team (Chris Clay, Elaine Mitchell, Leah Morrison, Shona Magill, Sharon McNeill)

Complete the LFD Home Testing Consent Form and return it to

Kits are collected from the on-site testing facility in the SMB You will be offered an appointment to collect a kit. Collecting the kit will only take a few minutes.

We will need to ensure that we have received your consent form, and record your name and the batch details of the kit we’re issuing. You will also be issued with a hard copy of the instructions for use. You will then receive an appointment for 21 days’ time to collect another kit. There are 7 tests in each kit. If you test positive, you must follow the current government guidance.

On-site testing

For those who have not yet taken a lateral flow test on-site or at home, we encourage you to book 2-3 tests using the on-site facilities first before you collect a home test, just to give you the confidence to complete it well. However, this is just a recommendation and should not stop you from immediately starting a home test program.

Further information related to the on-site testing can be found below:

      The test is self administered using a lateral flow device. It is not a PCR test Testing takes place on site in the Sheina Marshall Building using trained SAMS staff The tests take approximately 15 minutes to complete. There is information on what is involved with the test

self-swab instructions

    .Please arrive promptly for the appointment.
    When you arrive for the test, you will need to register. Please bring your mobile phone with you. It is helpful if you have a QR reader installed on your phone.
    Your results will be confirmed by text or email from the NHS within 24 hours.
    The registration process links to a data privacy statement issued by the NHS. SAMS does not control any personal information for on-site testing. By attending the test site and registering for a test, it is assumed that you have provided your permission to participate in testing
    If you test positive, you must follow the current government guidance.

We will advise when the on-site testing facility is open.

Please contact with any queries.

Student testing before travelling to SAMS

Students who are travelling to SAMS for in-person teaching are strongly encouraged to access a free PCR prior to leaving their current address. Further information can be found on the Scottish Government’s site and the test can be ordered here.