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Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced a new ‘lockdown’ in England in response to an increase in case numbers. This is partly the result of the emergence of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19. The new restrictions came into effect yesterday (Tuesday) and the Government also published further details about arrangements for teaching in universities.
Following these announcements, discussions have taken place with colleagues across the University to agree what exactly these changes mean for teaching arrangements.
Over recent weeks we made a number of decisions about our activities at the University – in particular, limiting the number of students who will have face-to-face teaching in January – and so we do not have to make many immediate changes as a result of Monday’s announcement. However, the new national restrictions do raise a number of important issues and we all have a responsibility to adhere to the new measures. Under the latest restrictions, people are only allowed to leave home to:
The full guidance is available on the Government website here.
The last bullet point in the list above is of course particularly important for universities, as it means that some categories of teaching are able to continue in-person. Students were emailed last Thursday with clarification from the Government about which courses this applies to, and this guidance continues to stand under the new restrictions in relation to both undergraduate and postgraduate taught study.
This means that in-person teaching will continue where required for clinical courses and other programmes where it is necessary as part of meeting requirements of particular professional bodies (for example, where work in laboratories or studios is essential). Those of you studying subjects in these categories should look out for specific communications related to your course and attend teaching as directed by your school or department.
The latest restrictions also mean that all programmes not included in the categories above must continue to be taught remotely. One significant change announced on Tuesday night is that this will continue to be the case until at least mid-February. At the moment, we cannot be certain when this will change but we will inform you as soon as there are any updates to the Government guidance. If you are studying remotely during this period and you are not currently on campus, this means you will not need to return until mid-February at the earliest – however, you may return if you need access to study resources provided on campus including study space, specialist facilities, libraries and IT.
Please remember that, although a number of essential services are available on campus, you should minimise contact with people outside of your household or support bubble and therefore only use physical facilities when it is absolutely necessary. Our libraries and other student services offer a wide range of services online, which will help you to avoid unnecessary travel. If you do visit campus, you must take personal responsibility for adhering to all public health measures including wearing a face covering, maintaining a distance from other people and washing your hands regularly.
Although we hope to introduce face-to-face teaching for all programmes at the earliest opportunity, we recognise these latest changes will create particular concerns for some students. We would like to provide reassurance to you that we will continue to support your learning whatever your personal circumstances. Therefore:
The measures explained above will significantly reduce the number of students and staff on campus, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading among our University community. However, those of us studying or working on campus must also take personal responsibility for helping to prevent infection.
Please adhere to the following essential steps:
By following these basic steps, we will significantly reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the whole University community while making a positive contribution to the wider efforts across the country to bring rates of infection down. Following this guidance, along with the roll-out of the new vaccines, is crucial to reaching a stage where case numbers are significantly lower and national restrictions can be reduced.
It is extremely important to us that you continue to get the support you need to successfully pursue your studies, regardless of how your teaching arrangements change through the academic year. We understand the pandemic has created difficulties for the majority of students and I would like to assure you that this will be taken into account when considering your overall attainment at the end of the year. We have robust processes to deal with extenuating circumstances, including giving exam boards considerable discretion to ensure that attainment is considered holistically and that all students receive equal consideration and receive fair outcomes. We will be writing to you next week with more detailed information about how assessments will run under the current circumstances. Also, don’t forget the wide range of support you can access at any time as a University of Liverpool student.
There are still a number of issues that we have to work through so please keep an eye on future email communications for updates
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