Welsh universities to continue in-person teaching during lockdown

Students required to stay at term-time addresses during two-week ‘firebreak’

October 19, 2020
Welsh Covid sign
Source: iStock

Universities will be able to continue offering in-person teaching during a two-week “firebreak” lockdown in Wales.

The Welsh government also said that all students would be asked to remain at their term-time addresses during the lockdown, designed to slow the spread of coronavirus and to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by growing numbers of cases.

Under plans for the lockdown, which will begin on 23 October, primary schools in Wales will reopen as normal after half-term, but secondary schools will reopen only for years 7 and 8 and the most vulnerable children. Other students will learn from home for another week.

People will be required to stay at home “except for very limited purposes, such as exercise”, and to work from home wherever possible. Community centres and libraries will have to close, as will all non-food retail and hospitality businesses.

Universities Wales said it welcomed the announcement that the existing blend of in-person and online teaching would be allowed to continue during the lockdown.

“The blended approaches that universities are delivering ensure high-quality, engaging courses while complying with public health regulations and prioritising the safety and well-being of staff and students. Universities across Wales have made adaptations to campuses to ensure that they are safe, socially distanced environments,” said Amanda Wilkinson, director of Universities Wales.

“As well as being an important part of the learning experience, in-person teaching also provides university staff with opportunities to check in with students and support their well-being – something that is more important than ever in the current climate.”

Cardiff University has the highest number of reported coronavirus cases among Welsh higher education institutions, having confirmed 414 among students and staff since 5 October.

Swansea University has reported 136 cases, and has 451 students currently in self-isolation.

Ms Wilkinson added: “We recognise the resilience shown by all students, and we appreciate the efforts made by students to comply with restrictions. As we enter this temporary ‘firebreak’, we will continue to work with, encourage and support our students.”

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

The idea that in-person teaching is essential for the welfare of undergraduate students should be seen in direct contrast to the fact that (for Cardiff University at least) - in-person supervision of postgraduate research students (as well as early career researchers) has been strongly discouraged. Yet the same postgraduate students provide a large amount of the in-person teaching undergraduate students receive. This contrast suggests that either the welfare needs of postraduate students is being neglected, or the provision of in-person teaching for undergraduates is not the primary reason for continuing this activity during the "firebreak".
Precisely

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