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Message from the Master to our students

25.03.20

We have all experienced a difficult and tumultuous period in recent days.

The public health emergency caused by Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has required changes to not only national guidelines, but also our day-to-day lives. As the spread of infections has become more rapid, these changes have needed to be increasingly frequent and disruptive ­ – culminating in the most recent measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday night.

I am tremendously proud of how quickly the St Catharine’s community has been able to respond to this disruption.

I know it hasn’t been easy and I recognise how much you have already sacrificed because of this exceptional disruption. On behalf of the College, I thank you all for the steps that you have taken to halt the spread of infections and protect the NHS, which will ultimately help save lives.

Life in College

Life at St Catharine’s will not return to normal for some time. I feel a profound sense of regret that students will not be returning to College for the remainder of this academic year. However, the safety and wellbeing of our community must take priority. While this will undoubtedly be unsettling, the College is committed to supporting everyone during these challenging circumstances.

Looking ahead, we are all preparing for teaching to be conducted remotely during the Easter term. In addition, faculties and departments are considering ways to allow examinations to be taken, with further information to be provided directly to students by 31 March.

With staff and Fellows required by the Government to work remotely unless for essential activities, the College has also followed the latest official guidance in closing the Chapel, the Shakeshaft and Sherlock libraries, the bar, the JCR and the MCR, the gym, boathouse, badminton and squash courts, changing rooms and sports pavilion.

Supporting students remaining in College

For all undergraduate and postgraduate students who have been unable to leave, the College is committed to offering a place to stay during this difficult time. We are in regular contact with these students to explain what everyone needs to do to follow the latest government guidance, and to provide them with as much information and support as we can at this difficult time.

Supporting our wider community

It is understandable that the current situation may be causing you to feel worried or anxious about your own situation or those around you who may be more vulnerable. You are not expected to have all the answers or to know how to cope with these unexpected changes.

If you haven’t yet had a moment to familiarise yourself with the latest information and advice, please visit this important new section of the College website. If you have any questions that remain unanswered, please contact covid19@caths.cam.ac.uk

In addition, the College has set up an online welfare hub to help direct you to support and helpful resources, which will be expanded in the coming weeks. Please contact welfare.officer@caths.cam.ac.uk if you have any suggestions or you cannot find what you are looking for.

Thank you, again, for your continued cooperation and support. I am confident that we can come together to preserve our sense of connectedness and community in new ways in the months ahead.

With best wishes,

Professor Sir Mark Welland

Master, St Catharine’s College