Adam Toms provides an update on the university’s response to COVID-19
The UoB has continued to detail in email updates to students that most of campus will remain open despite the potential exposure of staff to coronavirus and the PM advising ‘increased social distancing.’
An email sent on behalf of Professor Jeremy Pritchard, Director of Education at the UoB’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences (LSE), stated that professional services staff ‘may have contracted coronavirus’ at the LSE Student Hub on Sunday 15th March.
Said staff are consequently self-isolating and a 48 hour ‘deep clean’ of the LSE hub has taken place.
This follows a previous false alarm at the University’s medical centre.
The UoB’s Vice Chancellor, David Eastwood, has detailed the university’s plans to combat COVID-19 in an email to staff following the meeting of the UoB’s Strategic Emergency Response Team.
Online teaching will be phased in between 16th and 23rd March vis Canvas and the VC emphasised that students will still be able to seek help from tutors and lecturers via ‘discussion boards, email, skype or telephone.’
Nevertheless, the email also states that on site research ‘will cease from 5pm on Friday 27th March’ as some campus operations are ‘restricted’ to ‘minimise the risk to staff and the wider community.’
Some modules have also been cancelled and emails have been sent to students from schools, such as the school of engineering and humanities, detailing their plans to phase in online teaching as campus remains open.
Although, this may well be subject to change as ‘unnecessary social contact,’ attending ‘crowded places,’ and ‘unnecessary travel’ was advised against by the government on Monday 16th March.
This will undoubtably put pressure on commuter students and Birmingham based students alike to stay at home rather than spend time on campus.
The PM stated that this advice is ‘based scrupulously on the best scientific advice’ and aims to ‘flatten the peak of the epidemic,’ mitigating the spread of the virus.
Johnson also stated that the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has warned that the country is ‘approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve’.
He was flanked by Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor during the first of now daily press briefings regarding the coronavirus crisis.
After these announcements the UoB sent an email to students detailing further campus restrictions including the closure of ‘non-essential buildings’ including the sports centre, Tiverton Gym, campus museums, and all catering outlets.
Face-to-wellbeing sessions have also been cancelled and students have been asked to make sure they are prepared for home study.
The same day, the university tweeted an update about a suspected case of COVID-19 at the UoB’s Business School stating, ‘Our immediate concern is for the affected individual and their family’ as they are being cared for in hospital.