Bristol University confirms it will continue with ‘blended learning’ during lockdown

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By Epigram News Team

The University of Bristol will continue with its ‘blended learning’ combination of online and face-to-face teaching during the national lockdown, which is due to commence on Thursday 5 November.

In a message to students, Bristol University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, has confirmed the University will continue its ‘blended learning’ approach during lockdown, despite calls from staff and Bristol SU to move all unnecessary in-person teaching.

The news follows the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday for a nationwide lockdown to commence on Thursday 5 November, in which Universities and other educational settings will remain open.

Reiterating guidance from the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, Bristol University have urged students not to leave their term time address to go home, to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Students have been told to attend classes if they are able to do so throughout the lockdown period, citing a survey they recently carried out in which 60% of students said they wanted more in-person teaching.

Outlining the reasoning for the decision, Bristol University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, has said: ‘Given that our number of active cases is falling overall and Public Health England has not found any evidence of student-to-staff transmission, the local PHE guidance is that no further changes are required at this point given all the relevant mitigations are in place.

‘We will, therefore, maintain our blended learning approach of online and in-person teaching. We will also continue to deliver ongoing research activity where it cannot be undertaken remotely.

‘It is important that students remain at the University at this time in order to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. The Government guidance confirms that students must not move back and forward during term time, only returning home at the end of term for Christmas.’

The Vice-Chancellor also added that to move any programme or unit solely online ‘without good evidence could have significant consequences for our staff, students and the wider community, bearing in mind the clear public health risk and guidance relating to students not travelling home.’

In addition, staff have expressed their discontent at the University’s insistence on maintaining some in-person teaching due to the risk posed by coronavirus.

Bristol UCU, the union representing teaching staff at the University, have repeatedly called for all ‘unnecessary’ face-to-face teaching to be moved online over fears for the safety of staff.

Between Saturday 31 October and Monday 2 November, the University reported an additional 101 new coronavirus cases among staff and students.

This included 55 cases among students and four cases among staff on Saturday, a figure which then fell to 17 students and no additional staff on Sunday.

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Yesterday, the University reported that 22 more students and three more staff members had tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of ‘active’ cases, defined as those who tested positive and are yet to finish the 10 day self-isolation period, to 150.

The total cumulative figure for staff and students who have tested positive for coronavirus at Bristol University now stands 1,795.

Today’s announcement also comes a day after Bristol SU called on the University to ‘show leadership’ and move all non-essential in-person teaching online, in light of the upcoming lockdown.

Featured Image: Epigram / Cameron Scheijde


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