SAMS was open throughout the lockdown but only to deliver essential services such as monitoring for food safety and to look after the living organisms in our care. While staff continue to work from home during Phase 3 of the Scottish Government's Route Map, our research and commercial activities are resuming, subject to a risk assessment to determine if they can be carried out safely.
Undergraduate and MSc teaching during semester 1 is being delivered remotely.
The Ocean Explorer Centre remains closed until further notice.
Email is our main form of communication with staff, students and tenants regarding Covid-19 and SAMS. We thus expect you to check your emails regularly.
For the latest information from the University of the Highlands and Islands on Covid-19 please visit https://www.uhi.ac.uk/en/students/support/coronavirus-covid-19/.
The SAMS Covid-19 response is coordinated by our deputy director, Professor Axel E J Miller (Mob: 07824 777732).
Last update: 25 September 2020
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: Coronavirus risk assessment and safe systems of work v04
Managing the return to work
We are managing a phased return-to-work to allow staff and postgraduate students to resume key activities 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.
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 will put in place procedures to allow their spaces to be used safely.
This will include 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 will consideration be given to the use of additional face coverings and PPE.
Extra cleaning materials will be 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.
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 https://www.uhi.ac.uk/en/students/support/coronavirus-covid-19/.
LATEST UPDATE (21 September)
All teaching for semester one of the 2020-21 academic year is delivered by distance learning. Online inductions took place during the week starting 31 August and teaching started on 7 September. Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. We thus ensure that this return is safe and planned in line with Scottish Government health measures and guidance.
Please also note that the university has made the difficult decision that there will be no graduation ceremonies, either in person or virtually, during 2020. Students finishing this year will have their awards conferred and will graduate in absentia. We are working to mark your achievements and to arrange special events when it is safe to do so.
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. You should arrange a test through NHSinform. All other household members should isolate as a household for 14 days even if they don’t have symptoms themselves. The 14-day period starts from the first day the person had symptoms. If others develop symptoms within the 14 days, they need to stay at home for 10 days from the day their symptoms started. They should do this even if it takes them over the 14-day isolation period. Please inform COVID19SAMSstudent@sams.ac.uk (undergrads) or Anna Kane (postgrads) if you develop symptoms or are self-isolating. More on self-isolation...
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.
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.
Erasmus Mundus ACES+ students
Face-to-face teaching of the Erasmus Mundus Masters Degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society Plus (ACES+) has stopped, but the programme continues to be delivered making use of distance learning tools and methods. Your learning will continue via the procedures put in place by your respective Programme Leader/ Dissertation Supervisor(s). Your module leaders will be in touch through email, or Brightspace/ email, in the case of the Dissertation module.
If you normally access student support, this will also continue via Helen Bury and / or your Personal Academic Tutor. This will be through telephone, Microsoft Teams or Skype.
Postgraduate research students
Please follow instructions for staff. Keep your supervisor and the SAMS graduate school informed about any issues and changes in circumstances.
If you have a query regarding accommodation for the new academic year, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidance is available on using accommodation during the current situation: Covid-19 guidance M Barnes Residence
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:
All overseas business travel for SAMS staff and students must be in line with current policy: Overseas travel during Covid. 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 should read the latest information in the Coronavirus visitor information Sep 20.
Our Ocean Explorer Centre remains closed.
Our subsidiary company SRSL 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 www.safer.scot
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 bit.ly/2K0N22j