Whilst many students were no doubt encouraged by the details of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown last week, it left some with an agonising wait over the details of the resumption of their studies on campus.
For those students who require “practical teaching, specialist facilities or on-site assessment”, plans are underway to accommodate them back to campus from 8th March. These students will have been contacted by their school or department with details of course-specific return timetables.
However, those on other courses await the outcome of a government review, not due until after Easter. The current government guidance is that students should only return to their term-time accommodation if studying at home is not feasible or is compromising their physical or mental health. A report by the Office of National Statistics found that some 40% of students had returned to university towns by the end of last month.
A distinct lack of change in the guidance for scores of students is discouraging
The government’s apparent neglect to mention students in each phase of new guidance is surprising given the fact that schools have been offered clear directives about resuming teaching.
A distinct lack of change in the guidance for scores of students is discouraging, given the relatively low transmission rates amongst the student population, in spite of public opinion. As students have gradually returned to campus, many spurred on by weak official advice, having no nationwide testing scheme in place could prove irresponsible on the government’s part.
In an email response from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Andy Long, the University empathised with the frustrations of many students and renewed its promise to “ensure our teaching methods best support your learning and to do everything we can to support you while you wait for your return date”. Many of these frustrations were expressed in a Q&A with Vice- Chancellor Shearer West last month.
Professor Long also outlined a proposed COVID-19 testing regime that students would be encouraged to undergo as they return to Nottingham. After an initial test upon arriving in the city, students should take an asymptomatic COVID-19 test at least once a week to ensure that active cases on campus remain low. In-house testing has been one of the most effective and commendable aspects of the University’s response to the pandemic, with facilities across all its campuses.
The Students’ Union encouraged students to prioritise their mental wellbeing as the government’s cautious approach provided a fresh wave of uncertainty
The Students’ Union directed struggling students towards the University’s support infrastructure and encouraged students to prioritise their mental wellbeing as the government’s cautious approach provided a fresh wave of uncertainty for many. Libraries, study spaces, retail and campus catering outlets remain open, with revised opening hours in line with national restrictions. However, sports facilities remain closed, subject to yet another government review in April.
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