Loughborough goes online over Christmas self-isolation fears

Government guidance wants face-to-face teaching, but university concerned about students getting stuck on campus

December 13, 2021
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Loughborough University has announced that it is moving its teaching online for the final days of term to reduce the risk of staff and students having to self-isolate over Christmas.

In an email to students, chief operating officer Richard Taylor says that the decision to conduct lectures and seminars digitally from 15 December onwards was made following a rise in Covid cases on campus over the weekend.

“Whilst rates remain below those in the local area, the rules on isolation mean that any cases detected later this week could mean individuals needing to isolate for 10 days over the festive season,” Mr Taylor writes.

The email says that campus facilities will remain open as usual and students do not have to go home early, but that they may leave from the evening of 14 December onwards.

Mr Taylor says that the university is planning to resume face-to-face teaching in January if government guidance allows, and the change for the last days of term “is specifically because of concerns about students isolating over Christmas”.

“We have listened to your feedback and hope that the above changes will give everyone the flexibility to make their own decisions about travel at the end of the term…I had hoped that low case numbers would have meant we could have completed term normally. This decision has been made to reduce the chances of anyone needing to isolate here over Christmas,” Mr Taylor tells students.

Westminster government guidance has called on English institutions to continue face-to-face tuition, despite mounting concern about the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. But the University and College Union has said that this put staff and students in “unnecessary danger”, and at risk of having to self-isolate over Christmas.

Imperial College London moved non-essential teaching online for the final days of its term, in response to “rapidly rising” coronavirus case numbers, including Omicron.

The University of Oxford also reported a 33 per cent increase in Covid cases in the space of a week, with many of these confirmed as being the Omicron variant.

The Department for Education guidance says that administrative staff who are not involved in the delivery of face-to-face tuition should work from home where possible, but that the “majority” of staff are expected on campus to deliver teaching and support services.

Many UK universities have been delivering large lectures online during the autumn term because of concerns over Covid-19, but most smaller group teaching has been taking place in person.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

A rolling average 20-30 cases 2 weeks ago to over 200 today, and we're told no Omicron only Delta in my university, BOHICA!

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