Liverpool Hope University has moved to temporarily reduce the number of face-to-face teaching sessions in order to improve Covid-19 safety - and to reassure the city’s residents.
The University will see students return to campus this weekend, with Welcome Week due to commence 28th Sept.
The Autumn term arrives amid new social distancing restrictions in the North West and concern from some Liverpool residents about an influx of new students.
With these local concerns in mind, Hope has moved all teaching online for the initial induction week.
Going forwards, undergraduates who don’t require the use of specialist teaching spaces, such as workshops, laboratories and studios, will also see seminars and tutorials moved online, in line with their lectures.
Hope is keen to stress that these are temporary measures which will be reviewed at the beginning of November.
Meanwhile the University is also requiring all students to sign a ‘Student Commitment Declaration’, which binds them to a range of commitments including following Covid-19 social distancing rules, not organising or attending on or off-campus parties and wearing a face covering when in public areas.
To protect the safety of both the University and the wider community, failure to abide by the Declaration will result in disciplinary action - and Hope has promised ‘rigorous follow-up’ when it comes to any poor behaviour.
Dr Penny Haughan, Hope’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Life and Learning, said: “We want students to have the best possible experience of their time at Hope, and we’re committed to providing face-to-face teaching wherever and whenever it is appropriate.
“But we must also listen to the concerns of residents in the city and take heed of the Covid-19 infection rates at a local level.
“With this in mind, we’ve decided to temporarily restrict face-to-face teaching for the coming four weeks.
“All teaching will move online for the first year induction week, and for the next few weeks there will be reductions in face-to-face seminars and tutorials across subjects which don’t require the use of specialist teaching spaces.
“We will, however, resume widespread face-to-face teaching as soon as it’s prudent to do so, as we recognise just how important this is for the student academic experience.
“Hope will constantly review the situation and provide updated arrangements at the beginning of November.
“And we’ll also be arranging for tutors to meet their students on a one to one basis in addition to online lectures and seminars taking place.”
A letter detailing the new advice has been sent to students.
In the communication, Dr Haughan tells the Hope community: “This is not how we wanted to start the academic year, but we are making these changes in the interests of the public good.
“I want to be absolutely clear that this is a temporary, short term change and as soon as we
are certain that it is safe to do so we will reinstate more face to face sessions for all cohorts.”
Dr Haughan states the arrangements relate to ‘teaching’ only, and adds: “The halls of residence are open and students are already starting to arrive. The resources of the University such as the use of computers, open air sports facilities, support services, libraries and wi-fi are all available to you. The campuses have been prepared and we are taking every precaution we can.”
As well as Hope’s own Student Commitment Declaration, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Liverpool Hope have also developed a joint Student Community Pledge which asks students to do their bit to protect the City region in the face of Covid-19.
The city’s universities are also liaising with Matt Ashton, Liverpool City Council’s Director of Public Health, as well as Mayor Joe Anderson, on the best ways to manage the ever-evolving issue.
Last week Hope also reassured students that a host of safety measures had been put in place in order to pave the way for a safe reopening of campuses and residential areas.
Dr Penny Haughan added: “The message is clear - the University is very much open and we’re delighted to be welcoming our students to campus.
“Rigorous, independently verified, risk assessments have been conducted to make sure we make the appropriate adjustments to life at the University, and the safety of our students and staff will always remain paramount.
“Throughout the University’s campuses, we’ve implemented one way systems through buildings to ensure social distancing, cleaning regimes have been escalated.
“Students will be allocated to learning bubbles and there are residential bubbles when they arrive in Halls, another measure designed to safeguard health and wellbeing.
“And we’ve also invested heavily in protective technology.
“Hope has launched its own track and trace initiative - the ‘SafeZone’ app - in order to protect the entire Hope family.
“We also have a ‘Covid-19 Alert Status’ system, designed to communicate the local Covid-19 situation to students and staff on a daily basis, via email, text on via screens on campus, so that safeguarding measures can potentially be put in place.
“And we also want to reassure students that the new measures don’t have to detract from the overall student experience.
“The majority of our cafes, bars and canteens are open. And students and staff can still access our library while making use of its computers and printing services.
“To make life easier, we’ve also launched a ‘request and collect’ service for the library’s materials to maximise convenience and safety for all. “
To learn more about all the Covid-19 measures being put in place at Hope, as well as important and regularly-updated guidance, head here.