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University to remain open during second lockdown, Chris Day announces

Written by Coronavirus, News, On Campus

Newcastle University Vice Chancellor Chris Day has assured students that teaching will continue throughout the second national lockdown announced on 31 October. In a video uploaded to the Newcastle University YouTube channel yesterday, Day explained that he hopes to write to students by tomorrow with further information.

Day highlighted that – unlike with the first national lockdown – schools, colleges and universities are able to remain open. As such, the little Present in Person teaching (PiP) that is going ahead will continue.

In addition, specialist labs, workshops and studios will remain open, with on-site research also still able to go ahead. The Vice Chancellor explained the University will remain open in “as covid-secure a way as possible”.

“We are well prepared for this,” he insisted, citing the additional restrictions which Newcastle has been following since 18 September. He added that since then, PiP has been reduced and online resources increased.

“We expect very little will change for students and colleagues here at Newcastle University,” he added.

He explained that he hopes to write with further information within 48 hours of the video’s publication, pending further guidance from the Department for Education.

The national lockdown will begin on Thursday, and is set to end on 2 December. However, Cabinet minister Michael Gove warned Sky News that it could be extended if necessary.

Day’s announcement follows heightened tensions between the University and the Newcastle University branch of the University and College Union (UCU). The branch had threatened to ballot for industrial action if it did not receive resolution from the University on a number of issues.

These include a failure to carry out risk assessments for all buildings where essential PiP takes place. Also a concern was the failure to default to online learning, except where essential.

The UCU branch had hoped the default would be for the rest of the year, or until the UCU’s five safety requirements are met. The University has since defaulted to online learning for the rest of the term.

Featured Image: Newcastle University on YouTube

Last modified: 3rd November 2020

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