Following the announcement of a second lockdown last week, the Government has said that universities are to remain open and that face-to-face teaching can continue where possible.
In an open letter to students, the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan, has said: “By keeping universities open, we are prioritising education so that there is no gap in your academic journeys and lives.”
She emphasised that teaching standards must be maintained even if there are further shifts to online learning and urged students to speak to their university if they have any concerns.
At the University of Sheffield, libraries, essential support services, study spaces and halls of residence have remained open, following government social distancing guidelines. The Students’ Union building will also remain open as a study space for students, where catering outlets such as Coffee Revolution will operate as takeaway services.
However, Goodwin Gym has closed in line with lockdown requirements while View Deli and the Arts Tower Cafe have been shut due to low demand.
In an email update on the lockdown, Professor Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University, urged students to “follow the rules to keep everyone safe.”
He added, “Your individual actions and our sense of community is making a real difference and will continue to do so over the winter months.
However, acknowledging the several fines issued to students over Halloween weekend, he said here was no room for complacency and students needed to continue to work together.
According to statistics published by the University of Sheffield, new Covid-19 cases among students and staff have continued to fall over the past month and remain low. From 6 November to 12 November there has been an average of 7 new cases a day among staff and students combined.
Attention is now turning to how students are going to travel home safely for Christmas with SU President, Beth Eyre, urging the Vice Chancellor to “prioritise clear communication and student wellbeing” when the Government releases its guidance for the festive period.
The government have announced the ‘student travel window’ plan for students to travel home between the 3 to 9 December after being tested. The details of exactly how the testing will be carried out and how travel window will work are yet to come.
Image: George Tuli