On its Coronavirus webpage, which is updated daily, the University announced that all lectures will be suspended until the end of the current academic year in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. The University is following in the footsteps of Durham, Northumbria, Leeds and Sheffield, who all announced a suspension of classroom-based teaching last week. Despite the announcement, most student services, such as the library, remain open, though it is expected that library opening hours will be limited to core hours in the coming weeks. The University states that it is looking into mitigation strategies such as expanding its provision of online counselling, and it hopes to bring all teaching online.
The emails states that: "apart from a limited number of exceptions such as students on clinical placements, there will be no face-to-face teaching or assessments for the remainder of the academic year. We will be looking creatively at how we can deliver teaching remotely and are working with both students and colleagues to ensure that their safety comes first."
Regarding campus-based teaching, the email states that "the majority of lecture- and seminar-based teaching will be delivered remotely as far as this is possible." It intends to cancel all "non-essential" events, such as the Spring Recruitment Fair which otherwise would have taken place today. Events organised by North East Solidarity and Teaching (NEST) have been cancelled, alongside the University's climate action week. Conversely, on its Coronavirus webpage, the University states that congregation ceremonies are still set to go ahead as normal, despite some other universities postponing their summer graduations.
The University is adamant that it is still open, though it states that "it is likely there will be some changes in other services. [Students] will still be able to access on-campus support and resources beyond the remote learning and teaching support we plan to provide."
Many students have expressed fears about upcoming assessments. Addressing these concerns, the University has stated that it "will also be using alternative approaches to assessment and will develop our plans over the next few weeks. This will be a priority and further information on the different types of assessment will also follow."
The University concluded that "This is an unprecedented situation. However, your education and safety are our top priorities and we will endeavour to continue to provide you with everything you need to continue your studies. We are firmly committed to supporting your remote learning. We want to assure you that whether you choose to stay, or return home, the University will continue to support you as best we can."
This stance has been reiterated on the University's Facebook page, with the University deciding to streamline all social media posts to focus coverage on the Coronavirus.
This announcement comes following a petition created by a Newcastle student for the University to suspend teaching.
On the Coronavirus webpage, the University states that congregation ceremonies are still set to go ahead as normal, despite some other universities postponing their summer graduations.
Current information suggests that the Students’ Union will remain open for the foreseeable future, though many events held in Venue are being cancelled, such as Thursday's Fight Night. The Union elections will still go ahead this week, but voting has been extended to Friday with the results ceremony being postponed to Monday. The Co-op located in the Union additionally remains open, but is limiting sales of hygiene products in a bid to curb stockpiling. Luther's will be closing at 5pm each weekday until further notice.
British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) has cancelled all sports from midday tomorrow til the end of the month, and all inter-mural sports have been suspended until the end of the academic year at Newcastle. Despite this, the Sports Centre currently remains open as usual.
The advice provided to student societies remains somewhat vaguer. The Students' Union is advising societies not to go on trips abroad, but this is dependant on the decisions of the individual societies, who are encouraged to consult their insurance providers. Individual society events based in Newcastle are generally set to go ahead, but societies have been encouraged to inform their members of all health and safety warnings. All events to held in Venue in the Union this week have been cancelled. NSR has decided to postpone broadcasting until further notice.
Information about what other universities are doing can be read here.