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University Covid-19 outbreaks

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My step daughter was due to go back to University this week in Manchester, but because she has a raised Covid risk she has managed to go 100% online for this semester and cancel her accommodation. It’s only a dozen miles away, she can do travel in later in the academic year if necessary.

Anyway she is still in the chat group for the private student accommodation she was going to using. They have had 14 confirmed Covid case in the last 36 hours.

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 wintertree 18:42 Tue
In reply to The New NickB:

Good on your household for making the sensible decision. 

> Anyway she is still in the chat group for the private student accommodation she was going to using. They have had 14 confirmed Covid case in the last 36 hours.

 Holy Cow.  When did the other students return into residence?

The working assumption by many of my colleagues is that what little face to face teaching remains will get pulled within two weeks of the start of term.

Post edited at 18:42
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 Luke90 18:42 Tue
In reply to The New NickB:

> They have had 14 confirmed Covid case in the last 36 hours.

Which is particularly remarkable given the current state of the testing system!

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 wintertree 18:46 Tue
In reply to Luke90:

> Which is particularly remarkable given the current state of the testing system!

It might also explain where the test kits have been going leading to shortages elsewhere  - universities getting ready for the HMO / halls debacle.

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In reply to wintertree:

They returned anything up to a week and a half ago, although probably most last weekend. Teaching started yesterday.

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 wintertree 18:50 Tue
In reply to The New NickB:

Thanks.  So presumably some external cases and some local transmission.  

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In reply to Luke90:

Greater Manchester had local testing until the weekend, worked well, we were told we could not have it any longer, now you can’t get a test.

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In reply to wintertree:

Unusually we had private testing done on our returning student cohort - no positives from that but one household picked up as symptomatic and had NHS testing in advance. £80/student....

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 Andy Hardy 20:12 Tue
In reply to The New NickB:

Can I ask how many were in the accommodation chat?

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In reply to The New NickB:

Let me guess..."let's get a big party in before the rule of 6 kicks in"? :D

I would put money on students doing that.

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In reply to Andy Hardy:

It’s the largest student accommodation in Manchester apparently, about 1,000 students.

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 Andy Hardy 21:32 Tue
In reply to The New NickB:

Thanks.

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In reply to The New NickB:

That's terrifying.

Meanwhile I found myself saying in a meeting today to my boss's boss

"Can you give me a compelling reason why we should be offering in-person appointments in the Student Administration Office? What can we do in person that we can't do via video-call?  Because if we did offer in-person appointments I would have to have a long hard think about whether I want to come to work and see students or see my Mum and Dad who live round the proverbial corner"

And the resignation letter came a step closer.

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 mondite 23:24 Tue
In reply to wintertree:

> It might also explain where the test kits have been going leading to shortages elsewhere  - universities getting ready for the HMO / halls debacle.


Do you reckon the government would have been that competent to stash them away?

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 jelllytrad 07:05 Wed
In reply to Neil Williams:

could be that. or could be the fact that on less than £9000 a year to live off students have to live in large houseshares/tiny cramped and unhygienic halls, and having to work in bars to pay the bills on minimum wage.

it isn't all young people 'partying', it's young people not being able to afford their own accommodation, cars, and working in hospitality,

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 Si dH 07:37 Wed
In reply to The New NickB:

I just did a quick fag packet calc to see how plausible 15 positive cases in 1000 students would be if the government's current data is anywhere near correct.

Currently 3000 new cases per day in the UK.

Assume 40% of those are in 20-29 yos (I haven't checked the latest data).

Assume at least half of cases are missed. So that's 2400 per day in that age group.

Assume an infection stays active for 10 days. So approximately 24000 cases in that age group on a given day.

The population of that age group is approximately 8-9 million I think. Let's use 8 million. That suggests fraction of people currently infected in that age group nationally on any given day is about 24000/8000000 or about 1 in 300.

Assume the 20-29 age group should have similar infection rates to students - that would suggest your hall of 1000 should have 3 cases rather than 15 and only 1 or 2 of them detected.

I suppose it's plausible for a given hall to have significantly higher rates if there has been some immediate local transmission, especially given Manchester is one of the worst affected areas. Otherwise, it would suggest that one of my assumptions is optimistic.

Post edited at 07:42
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In reply to Bobling:

> That's terrifying.

Wonder how the covid risk compares to the risk of student death through alcohol, other drugs and suicide?

Or even the traditional meningitis which often has a little flurry at the start of the student year. 

I think us humans are often too emotional when assessing risk using purely personal feelings, which means we are usually pretty naff at it. 

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 wintertree 07:59 Wed
In reply to summo:

> Wonder how the covid risk compares to the risk of student death through alcohol, other drugs and suicide?

Alcohol, drugs and suicide aren’t asymptomatically transmissible to the university support staff and to the student’s parents at the end of term when they go home.

That’s why it’s terrifying.

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In reply to summo:

The risk to the students is low, unless they are unlucky enough to have pre-existing condition that could raise that risk significantly. I'd have to do some number crunching to compare it to the other risks you mention. However, it is not good to have large cohorts that are in situations where the virus is spreading at several multiples of the rate that it is in the general population. This inevitably leads to increased risk of infection amongst more vulnerable populations.

Post edited at 08:04
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In reply to wintertree:

If they all get covid now, just teach virtually for 2-3 weeks or maintain distancing, by the time they go home at xmas they'll be well clear. Universities have had 6 months to decide if they were going to do a virtually first term, have less students, restructure lessons, high risk staff teach differently, to plan  etc.

Or maybe students don't go home for Xmas. Plenty folk have not seen relatives since March, so I'm sure the students will cope doing their own washing for two extra weeks. 

The fact that covid is still around shouldn't be a surprise, there is no vaccine etc so they just need to make big decisions and get on with it. Yes I know most are probably doing this. 

Post edited at 08:07
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In reply to The New NickB:

Then measures should be put in place to stop students mixing so heavily beyond the campuses. Many have had the best A level results they could imagine, now they need to make a few lifestyle sacrifices for a few months, before getting on with the rest of their lives. 

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 wintertree 08:15 Wed
In reply to summo:

> If they all get covid now, just teach virtually for 2-3 weeks or maintain distancing, by the time they go home at xmas they'll be well clear.

That doesn’t exactly fit with the disease mechanic.  

> Universities have had 6 months to decide if they were going to do a virtually first term, have less students, restructure lessons, high risk staff teach differently, to plan  etc.

Very difficult to plan for almost slum condition HMOs and rammed accommodation blocks however.  University staff doesn’t just include the lecturer at the other end of a zoom but an army of domestic staff who can’t work remotely.

> Or maybe students don't go home for Xmas. Plenty folk have not seen relatives since March, so I'm sure the students will cope doing their own washing for two extra weeks. 

Difficult in the catered accommodation blocks and I can’t see this government doing this.  More likely to be a lot of parents treating their kids like lepers over Christmas.

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 mondite 08:19 Wed
In reply to summo:

> Or maybe students don't go home for Xmas. Plenty folk have not seen relatives since March, so I'm sure the students will cope doing their own washing for two extra weeks. 

and the staff to keep them open?

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 girlymonkey 08:20 Wed
In reply to summo:

> Then measures should be put in place to stop students mixing so heavily beyond the campuses. Many have had the best A level results they could imagine, now they need to make a few lifestyle sacrifices for a few months, before getting on with the rest of their lives. 

So pay them big grants to live off so that they don't need a job while at uni? I lifeguarded in a local swimming pool during my degree. Lots of older and vulnerable people went there. Many will work in cafes or restaurants or shops. 

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In reply to Bobling:

> "Can you give me a compelling reason why we should be offering in-person appointments in the Student Administration Office? What can we do in person that we can't do via video-call?  Because if we did offer in-person appointments I would have to have a long hard think about whether I want to come to work and see students or see my Mum and Dad who live round the proverbial corner"

One of them puts food on the table and a roof over your head.  The other one doesn't.

If that's not the position you're in with regard to having a job, you are very fortunate.

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In reply to girlymonkey:

> So pay them big grants to live off so that they don't need a job while at uni?

Unless you mean just for COVID, why?  The work experience is valuable and they often enjoy it.

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 wintertree 10:06 Wed
In reply to Neil Williams:

> One of them puts food on the table and a roof over your head.  The other one doesn't

Yes, but the fact it puts food on Bobbling's table means the employer has a statutory duty to protect their health and safety whilst doing so, and a bloody obvious way of doing that is to make meetings between students at high risk of asymptomatic transmission and the teaching administrators electronic, not face-to-face, where at all possible.  

A lot of effort is going in to risk control measures for teaching facilities but not for the average teaching administrator's office.  There is no pedagogic reason for this sort of meeting to be face-to-face.  

Simple problem, simple solution.

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 girlymonkey 10:19 Wed
In reply to Neil Williams:

The response I was replying to was saying that students should stay out of the general population, so yes, due to Covid. 

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 girlymonkey 10:23 Wed
In reply to Neil Williams:

And I wasn't being serious. It was a response to the suggestion that they were being selfish by mixing and it would be possible to keep them separate. 

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 neilh 10:29 Wed
In reply to wintertree:

Not really that difficult to manage though. Keep 2 m apart ( position tables and chairs)and with screens. Plenty of other professions having to do the same thing.Just needs a bit of control on it. If banks etc can do it, there is no reason why the uni cannot.

Still surprised it cannot be done online.

My daughter and her 3 rd year mates have been in their accomodation for a couple of weeks now at warwick, all getting their act together. before start of term in 3 weeks time.

My brother who teaches English to overseas students at Chester tells me that Chester is inundated with overseas students ( no sign at all of them not coming). Lots of Chinese here already.

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 wintertree 10:45 Wed
In reply to neilh:

> Not really that difficult to manage though. Keep 2 m apart ( position tables and chairs)and with screens. Plenty of other professions having to do the same thing.Just needs a bit of control on it. If banks etc can do it, there is no reason why the uni cannot.

My bank has one door from the outside world to the teller's counter.  It's automatic.  One automatic door and two manual doors with handles (touch points) to get to the administrators office.  No ventilation, just opening a window would do nothing (calm day) or drive turbulent airflow (windy day) mixing things from either side of the screen.   If a student is meeting an administrator there is a reasonable chance the conversation will require a degree of privacy that means an open window is not acceptable if as with ours its onto a popular outside area.  A lot of offices are cramped and can't offer anything like 2 m distancing.  Measures like screens will lower but not eliminate risk.

> Still surprised it cannot be done online  

It can.  The students will all need to be online for most of their learning.  Administrators use computers.  Most of them will have been doing little but for the last 3 months...

The obvious reason to do it online is total elimination of a risk rather than lowering the risk.

> Lots of Chinese here already.

The difficulty they face is in going home at the end of term or their studies - two weeks mandatory stay in a government run hotel / detention / quarantine facility, not all of which have internet access.  

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 jkarran 10:47 Wed
In reply to Luke90:

> Which is particularly remarkable given the current state of the testing system!

It may also hint at why the testing system has choked so dramatically if resources have been quietly ring-fenced for the uni return.

jk

Post edited at 10:49
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In reply to wintertree:

> Yes, but the fact it puts food on Bobbling's table means the employer has a statutory duty to protect their health and safety whilst doing so, and a bloody obvious way of doing that is to make meetings between students at high risk of asymptomatic transmission and the teaching administrators electronic, not face-to-face, where at all possible.  

I don't disagree.  My point was that you don't get to bleat about whether you "want" to go to work, as if you start offering things that sound like resignations, employers can start issuing things that sound like acceptances.

By all means work with your employer to find a way to make things safer, but this read like either (a) militancy (I suppose Universities are heavily Unionised) or (b) someone who didn't need to be working, in which case great, but almost nobody else is in that position.

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 jkarran 10:55 Wed
In reply to mondite:

> Do you reckon the government would have been that competent to stash them away?

Some degree of planning ahead maybe but it's debatable whether it would constitute competence. Whatever did happen* appears to have choked the system to the extent a full reset is now required, adding resources to clear the backlog, if even possible, will only deliver cost, out of date information and a prolonged period of uselessness.

*probably just autumn + schools + piss poor planning

jk

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In reply to mondite:

> and the staff to keep them open?

only needs a skeleton staff working shifts. These are unusual times as the saying goes. We'll see tomorrow how many people won't even have a job by Xmas. 

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 neilh 11:04 Wed
In reply to wintertree:

Brother was saying they are more bothered about UK gov and Hong Kong as the Chinese Gov will simply withdraw visa for students to come here if we start taking lots of HK citizens..Talk about economic pressure.

I am not surprised there are still lots of oversea students, after all there are big economic unemployment issues everywhere, going to HE and Uni is a reasonable approach to keep yourself busy.

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 jkarran 11:04 Wed
In reply to summo:

> Wonder how the covid risk compares to the risk of student death through alcohol, other drugs and suicide?

It's not the risk students with covid pose to each other they're mostly very young, it's the risk they pose to others around them at higher risk, the livelihoods of their host community and ultimately everyone else's too if this leads to a nationwide loss of control and new lockdown measures. Of course that has to be weighed against the benefit students bring too.

jk

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 wintertree 11:15 Wed
In reply to Neil Williams:

I take your point entirely. 

> By all means work with your employer to find a way to make things safer

This assumes that the institutional bureaucracy can recognise the ability of individuals to make useful contributions or to have valid concerns.  In realty often a committee gets appointed, filled by people who want to be doing something else, takes ages, and simple effective measures sit on the table for months whilst the stress levels of "front line" staff go up and up as they lack the decisions needed to do the work they have limited time to do for the next term .  Where I am, the committee looking at returning to teaching only had ONE person on it who did any teaching, and that was almost by accident.  People I have spoke with had so little idea of the practical mechanics of what we do or how it's done that it was facial to think they could understand or address the problems.   Back in March it was suggested to me that students could wash their hands in sinks before lectures.  I suppose that person never watched the process of 400 people entering and 400 people leaving a room through two small vestibules in 8 minutes in a place WITH NO SINKS.  

Things get there in the end, but at the expense of many people feeling like they are banging their heads into a brick wall, repeatedly, for 6 months, over something that has been well explained, clearly evidenced and that has been presented with solutions that have been thought through.  This really takes it toll on those people, as they'd much rather be flogging themselves for their students and spending time with their families than banging heads into an institutional bureaucracy that has barely adapted the way it works when faced with a crisis and sweeping change of a magnitude not seen in 70 years.

Watching simple opportunity after opportunity to adapt and responded since mid-February and being met with nothing but stock "we really care about you" and "Waiting for government guidance" responses (when they have world class experts in all sorts of things in the institution getting the same fob off) and then six months later they're still procrastinating whilst expecting the front line staff to pick up a massive extra workload to re-produce all course content before term starts....  But, because they care we're told we should take some holiday.  Don't forget the preparation deadlines however.  Sorry we messing you about and changing plans and burning work you had done - silly you for trying to make an early start...

I personally know several people who are under such strain they should probably get genuinely signed off for stress and mental health by their GPs, but they would never consider that and will work until they're well past the point they should stop, or would rather resign (regardless of financial burden) than get signed off sick for stress.  It's what happens when you have a mentality where the front line staff are flogging themselves out of professional pride.

Post edited at 11:34
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 wintertree 11:20 Wed
In reply to neilh:

> Brother was saying they are more bothered about UK gov and Hong Kong as the Chinese Gov will simply withdraw visa for students to come here if we start taking lots of HK citizens

The dependance on Chinese student income is a massive risk across the sector.  Lots of loans in the range £0.2Bn to £1Bn in the sector to grow faculties for more "international" student numbers.    The Chinese could stop issuing exit visas to their students over any one of a number of political issues.  It was I think the possibility of Chinese students not coming here that sent senior management into panic mode in February and had them planning for that (rather than planing for the closure of physical teaching that was obviously going to be needed by mid-March.)

There's also an interesting interplay of mainland China and HK students - the former are quietly refusing to work with the later; I think probably because they know that some fraction of their cohort are MSS informers and they don't want a black mark on their CCP file.

Makes you think we shouldn't have allowed parts of a sector to become highly dependant  on students from a country that locks its population in through an exit visa system.  Whodathunkit.

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In reply to jkarran:

> It's not the risk students with covid pose to each other they're mostly very young, it's the risk they pose to others around them at higher risk, the livelihoods of their host community and ultimately everyone else's too if this leads to a nationwide loss of control and new lockdown measures. Of course that has to be weighed against the benefit students bring too.

> jk

Of course if they try to live by 2019 rules. But with a life more campus and less alcohol based, a vast amount of non camp is interaction can be reduced. Yes, life will be different, but it is for everyone else already. 

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In reply to summo:

> Wonder how the covid risk compares to the risk of student death through alcohol, other drugs and suicide?

I've been directly involved with cases of all of your examples.  Please weigh your words carefully.

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In reply to Bobling:

> I've been directly involved with cases of all of your examples.  Please weigh your words carefully.

Perhaps it's precisely because I do take the risks of alcohol, other drugs and suicide in young people seriously that I said it. 

Making it a taboo subject won't reduce a known problem or make it go away. It's good to talk!!   

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In reply to summo:

Yeah fair one summo and you're right, let's discuss it rather than shying away from it.  Take care.

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 wintertree 22:53 Wed
In reply to summo:

> But with a life more campus and less alcohol based, 

Why do you think that will happen?  It’s already become common in the last decade to “pre load” on cheap supermarket spirits before going out for the night; given the lack of basically any supervision in halls I’d imagine it’s going to be a case of staying home with Tesco’s Value Vodka with pubs distanced and clubs shut.  And believe you me, nothing - and I mean nothing - good comes of drinking a bottle of TVV.  Except perhaps some epic climbing skills, tales of daring do and, 20 years later, a sheepish recollection of “there but the grace of god”.  

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In reply to wintertree:

Which is fine. Let them party in their own university bubble, contain the spread whilst not having to close down universities. 

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 wintertree 07:54 Thu
In reply to summo:

> Which is fine. Let them party in their own university bubble, contain the spread whilst not having to close down universities. 

But it’s not a “bubble”.  

  • Cleaning staff
  • Library staff 
  • Shop workers and other shop patrons 
  • Laundromat staff and other patrons
  • GPs, nurses and other patients at surgeries
  • University mental health workers 
  • Staff at the local sexual health clinic
  • Academics - still doing 10% face to face teaching 
  • Cafe and restaurant staff and other patrons 
  • Their parents
  • The local cocaine and cannabis dealers
  • Anyone else they visit 

Your plan only works if we literally lock them up in halls for the whole term and send no support in - cruise ships 2.0.

Still, they’ll be responsible right? https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/anger-hundreds-exeter-university-students-4517251.amp

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In reply to wintertree:

What percentage of students are even in halls? I thought that after first year they were usually at large in the community. Though maybe that's changed with the huge amounts of new student accommodation that's been built over the last few years 

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In reply to wintertree:

What's the answer then. Just write the year off and shut up shop? 

There are huge numbers of essential workers who just had to work through the whole thing, no option to work from home etc.. Many folk managed to enjoy eating out and flying on holidays too. Perhaps universities can find a way to function too?

Perhaps the vulnerable staff and students need a different model, but it shouldn't grind the places to a halt. It's better the vulnerable do a 3 year course over 4, instead of stopping the other 99% getting on with it. Yeah it is harsh and some one needs to give them the bad news, but society can't  halt or be held to ransom. Vaccines could still be way off. 

Post edited at 08:13
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 wintertree 08:16 Thu
In reply to summo:

Going back to what started it on this thread - part of the answer is not requiring student administrator's to meet face to face with the students.  You've attempted to dismiss that by noting the direct and immediate risk to the students is minimal - the problems with this are pointed out so you say they can bubble.  The problems with this are pointed out so you move on to what I suspect was your real point all along, which I think (I may be wrong) is that you fundamentally disagree with the approach the UK is taking - fine; say that and argue that point.

> What's the answer then. Just write the year off and shut up shop? 

If I was in charge I would bring freshers in to residence and distance teach returning students from their family homes without bringing them in to residence, with the exception of students who have laboratory based modules - and where possible I would condense those in to one term for any given course.  All the work has been done to teach everything online at places where I know people, as they think it likely face to face will be torpedoed PDQ.  At which point they’ve been brought in to residence for nothing.

Post edited at 08:20
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 wintertree 08:20 Thu
In reply to climbingpixie:

Good question and I don’t know the answer - as you say things have been changing recently.

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In reply to wintertree:

> Your plan only works if we literally lock them up in halls for the whole term and send no support in - cruise ships 2.0.

What will actually happen is that as soon as it gets risky the younger ones that live in halls will p*ss off home to their parents.  The older ones that stay in flats with their friends will probably stick it out.

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In reply to wintertree:

>  At which point they’ve been brought in to residence for nothing.

They've been brought into residence because there's billions invested in those buildings and they need to collect rent.

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In reply to wintertree:

If I was in charge; everyone field that didn't require a physical presence would be taught virtually for the whole year and fees would have been halved. The remaining students on site could be scattered around. At risk staff etc would be the ones working virtually, the low risk staff on campus. I would have had 6 months in which to prepare, using the expertise of organisations like the OU or even MIT who have a vast programme online for free (as you no doubt know).

Additionally students caught persistently flouting covid rules would be removed from their course and they'll need to reapply next year. 

Post edited at 09:03
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In reply to summo:

> What's the answer then. Just write the year off and shut up shop? 

That would be the single best solution.  We should have faced up to this thing taking a year to 18 months.  If we had done that, people and organisations could have made productive use of the time.  For example, if Universities got a year without students they could use it to reconfigure themselves for online learning and create some really top class online materials to build their future on.  

> There are huge numbers of essential workers who just had to work through the whole thing, no option to work from home etc.. Many folk managed to enjoy eating out and flying on holidays too. Perhaps universities can find a way to function too?

Yes, some categories have to work through the whole thing because of the nature of their product or service. 

It does not help those people to make everyone else work through it too.  It actually makes things more risky.  If everyone who doesn't need work face-to-face works remotely then the overall R factor will be lower, the rate of infection in the community will be lower and life will be safer for people who need to work face to face.

> Perhaps the vulnerable staff and students need a different model, but it shouldn't grind the places to a halt. It's better the vulnerable do a 3 year course over 4, instead of stopping the other 99% getting on with it. Yeah it is harsh and some one needs to give them the bad news, but society can't  halt or be held to ransom. Vaccines could still be way off. 

If we kid ourselves we can get back to normal all that will happen is the deaths will go up until we face reality.  There is no normal until there is a vaccine or the virus mutates into a less dangerous form.

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 Doug 09:15 Thu
In reply to summo:

> If I was in charge...At risk staff etc would be the ones working virtually, the low risk staff on campus.

Sounds good but think a little further, what do you do if there are lab or field classes where the only staff that can teach them are 'high risk'?  Maybe not a problem in large universities with many staff & postgrads but some universities/departments are small

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In reply to Doug:

> Sounds good but think a little further, what do you do if there are lab or field classes where the only staff that can teach them are 'high risk'?  Maybe not a problem in large universities with many staff & postgrads but some universities/departments are small

Something will need to give. Everything will never be perfect. It's just a matter of least having a decent amount of education delivered. 

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 wintertree 09:33 Thu
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> >  At which point they’ve been brought in to residence for nothing.

> They've been brought into residence because there's billions invested in those buildings and they need to collect rent.

There is that; I was thinking about the student perspective.  

As many of these buildings have been built by private consortia to farm university students, unless there is some shady behind-the-scenes stuff going on, there is no reason why university would give any consideration to the finances of these residences… If an independent management company goes bust, something else will take over the assets... If there was some sort of revolving door between councils, major developers and universities I could understand it like...

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In reply to Doug:

> Sounds good but think a little further, what do you do if there are lab or field classes where the only staff that can teach them are 'high risk'?  Maybe not a problem in large universities with many staff & postgrads but some universities/departments are small

Solution; pretty obvious really. Universities collaborate. I know they are really businesses and it's competitive, with students being the product, but if they worked together I'm sure they could have put together a much better virtual year and bridged any practical teaching gaps more easily. All irrelevent now though. 

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In reply to wintertree:

> If I was in charge I would bring freshers in to residence and distance teach returning students from their family homes without bringing them in to residence, with the exception of students who have laboratory based modules 

Won’t returnees be in (already signed up for) rented accommodation and less likely to likely to spread Covid than Freshers in Halls, and better placed to deal with an outbreak - your option might be seen as keeping the university bandwagon going to the detriment of those already signed up?! 

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 wintertree 11:49 Thu
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> Won’t returnees be in (already signed up for) rented accommodation

Agreed - it's way too late to do what I suggested.  There's really not much that can be changed now I think.

> and less likely to likely to spread Covid than Freshers in Halls

I'm not convinced of this - in halls, there is self-policing, institutional policing and actual policing.  In the community there is basically no institutional policing and more dependance on community facilities.  Halls have drawbacks and benefits for controlling spread, and I don't have a solid basis to make a decision either way as to which is going to be better

> your option might be seen as keeping the university bandwagon going to the detriment of those already signed up?! 

It might - but I think it is to the eventual benefit of students already signed up by reducing the scale of potential chaos and confusion over the winter months.  I think that decisions are being led by keeping the universities from going bust, rather than student or societal welfare.  Freshers are the ones who have been out of education for 6 months (an exceptional circumstance), where-as returning years have been well taught throughout lockdown.  Freshers are the ones who have no identity with their institution or staff, and are not bought in to the system - so helping them is paramount to their degree success.  The other years are already experienced at distance learning, know people in their departments and student communities etc.  My suggestion might keep the wheels on the bandwagon whilst significantly reducing the transmission in the student community to the eventual benefit of everyone including the students staying home.

Maybe.

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In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> They've been brought into residence because there's billions invested in those buildings and they need to collect rent.

A mate of mine was about to start an MSc, as a very mature student (my age). He had arranged to live in, but the course went virtual. They insisted he'd still have to live in, or pay for the accommodation if he didn't.

So he told them to stuff their course. Everybody loses.

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In reply to wintertree:

> As many of these buildings have been built by private consortia to farm university students, unless there is some shady behind-the-scenes stuff going on,

I think my mate's accommodation was 'independent'.

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In reply to climbingpixie:

> What percentage of students are even in halls? I thought that after first year they were usually at large in the community. Though maybe that's changed with the huge amounts of new student accommodation that's been built over the last few years 

It’s certainly different from my day, in Manchester at least there seems to be plenty of student accommodation, so being in “halls” for three years is at least an option.

We visited Exeter as a possible choice and the offer their seemed much more like one year in halls and quite rented accommodation in the city.

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In reply to The New NickB:

*there* *private*

Post edited at 18:57
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