What education could look like in a time of Coronavirus
Written 18 May 2020
Please note: it’s likely that, as the situation evolves, the UK government will release further information for academic year 2020/21. You can monitor the most up-to-date advice on GOV.UK
Whether you’re starting a brand-new course in September or continuing your studies, you may be unsure about what your education could look like in a time of coronavirus. While this uncertainty can be nerve-wracking, don’t worry! We’ve put together some possible changes you may experience when the time comes.
You may have already experienced a shift to online learning as the coronavirus pandemic developed in the UK. Teachers and students alike have had to get creative in order to keep courses on track and you may notice that the way your usual classes are taught has changed.
Lectures, seminars and classes may now take place via online meeting technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. This means that classes can take according to your usual timetable or similar. This is also a great way to stay connected with your classmates and teachers as it allows you to ask questions in real time.
You may also be set tasks via email or virtual learning environment. These can usually be submitted to your tutor in the same place. We’d recommend monitoring these platforms carefully during your learning hours to ensure you don’t miss any new work or important updates.
If your school, college or university has moved to online learning, it’s really important to stay in regular contact with your tutors. For example, communicating any issues you may have such as internet access (ideally in advance of your lesson/assignment due date) can help your tutor work with you to keep you learning as effectively as possible.
Are you struggling to stay focused outside of a school? Take a look at our top tips for staying motivated while studying at home.
Getting to your educational institute
It may be that you’re still required to attend school or college in person, either on a full or reduced timetable. If so, consider in advance how you’ll get there and back.
The government currently advise walking or cycling if you live close to your place of education: as well as reducing the risk of transmitting coronavirus, exercise is also great for your mental health. Otherwise, can you travel in via car? If you hold a driving license, this could mean driving yourself or getting a lift from a member of your household if not.
If you need to get public transport or car share with members of other households, there are still measures you can take to stay as safe as possible. In a car, this could include opening the windows while on public transport this could mean trying to maintain a two metre distance from others or paying by contactless/exact change wherever possible. If social distancing isn’t possible, such as on a busy bus or train, the government recommend wearing a face covering like a cotton mask or scarf to help protect others.
Don’t forget to check up-to-date bus and train timetables before each journey as these are frequently changing at the moment and some services may be reduced or cancelled.
Changes to in-person classes
If you still need to take some classes face-to-face, it’s likely that new safety measures will be in place. You should follow these as best you can to help keep yourself and fellow students safe.
Your timetable may look different to normal: it may be that start, break and lunch times could be staggered to ease the amount of people flowing in and out of the building at one time. This will also help to ease the pressure on public transport during rush hour.
It’s likely that social distancing will be required in schools, colleges and universities. For example, you may be in a smaller class than usual to allow students to remain 2 metres apart from each other. You should also try to adhere to the 2 metre rule wherever possible if spending time with friends at break times.
You should also be aware that not all facilities at your educational institute may not be open, such as cafés and gyms. Plan for this by bringing in your own lunch if possible.
The most important way to stop the spread of coronavirus remains good hygiene so try to wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly, particularly after using public transport or between classes. If you’re using any practical equipment during your classes, your college should provide cleaning supplies to disinfect this regularly.
It’s also important to note that if you or a household member shows symptoms of coronavirus (a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature), you must self-isolate at home for 14 days, or until you have a negative test result. Please inform your tutor if you develop any of these symptoms whilst in college.
Before the new academic year commences in September, your course provider may be in touch with further details of any new measures expected to be in place, with the overall aim of running your course as safely and effectively as possible. Until then, keep learning and stay safe!