No extra in-person teaching on English campuses before 8 March

Updated guidance in line with Westminster government’s plan to announce phased route out of the coronavirus lockdown on 22 February

February 3, 2021
Hand drawn rainbow expressing thank to NHS and key workers displayed at glass window University of Greenwich during coronavirus outbreak
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In-person teaching on the majority of courses at English universities will not resume until 8 March or later, the Westminster government has said.

The updated guidance is in line with Boris Johnson’s stated intention to announce a phased route out of the current coronavirus lockdown on 22 February, and to give schools at least two weeks’ notice of plans to reopen.

Students on a small number of courses – largely medicine and other health-related subjects, education and social work – have been receiving face-to-face tuition this term, but the government said at the start of the year that online learning would continue for most programmes until “at least mid-February”.

In the updated guidance, the government says that the return of more students to campus “should be postponed until at least 8 March”.

“Providers should not offer in-person teaching before then, or later if further guidance to this effect is issued, and should encourage students to remain at their current accommodation until the resumption of their in-person teaching, wherever possible,” the guidance says.

The guidance says that students who are incurring accommodation costs, even if they are not using the accommodation, will remain eligible for the “living away from home” maintenance loan.

And it adds that universities “should set a clear expectation that all students should access coronavirus testing immediately on their return to university and on a twice-weekly basis thereafter”, until the end of March.

The guidance also confirms that staff who are required to deliver or support delivery of teaching or research “are considered critical workers for the purposes of their children’s attendance at school or college”. This includes catering and cleaning staff, the guidance says.

Several universities have indicated that online teaching is likely to continue for longer, while the London School of Economics has said that there will be no compulsory face-to-face tuition for the rest of the academic year.

The University and College Union and members of the Westminster government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have called for all university teaching to move online for the rest of the current term.

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