All face-to-face teaching at the University of Sheffield has been suspended following a staff member testing positive, it has been announced.

A staff member, working out of the Arts Tower, tested positive for the virus on Friday afternoon (13 March), and 11 floors of the building were closed to the public.

An email to all students, from the Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts, said: “The global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is a great concern and the health and wellbeing of our students and staff is our absolute priority. I have seriously considered Public Health England’s advice and I have no alternative option, given the current circumstances, but to temporarily suspend face-to-face teaching from Monday 16 March.

“University buildings and services will remain open and we plan to move all teaching online. We will send you a further update about how we will deliver this as soon as possible.”

“Today we were notified that a member of staff has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is following Public Health England (PHE) advice and self-isolating. We are also aware of a small number of unrelated suspected student cases of the virus. However we want to assure you that the risk of the virus having passed on to other people on campus is low and the University is working with PHE and following government guidelines on the appropriate next steps.”

Professor Lamberts also stressed the importance of hand-washing, as well as good hygenic practice, to prevent further spread of the virus, which was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Meanwhile, SU President Jake Verity announced via his Facebook page that the Students’ Union had taken the decision to cancel Pop Tarts tomorrow night (Saturday 14 March).

“Alongside the guidance from Public Health England and the Government, we feel a densely packed nightclub venue potentially poses a risk to students and staff,” he added.

However, Bar One and Interval will remain open.

11 floors of the Arts Tower were closed today following the confirmation a staff member had tested positive for coronavirus, and students were seen carrying coursework out of the building in the minutes after the announcement was made, in an email to School of Architecture students.

There are currently around 800 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, while three of these have been found in Sheffield.

The 2020 Student Publication Association National Conference, which was due to be hosted at the University of Sheffield next month by the SPA and Forge Press, has suspended ticket sales with immediate effect following the news.

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