Vet students among first in UK to return to campus

June 29th, 2020

Vet students at UoN are to be among the first in the UK to return to campus following the coronavirus lockdown when they are welcomed back to resume face-to-face teaching in July.

The university has implemented a full package of practical health and safety measures across its Vet School building and accommodation to meet Government guidelines and allow for the controlled return of 150 first-year undergraduate students to its Sutton Bonington campus.

A staggered arrival will enable adequate social distancing to be observed before teaching begins again in small groups on Monday 27 July.

The students returning are from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science’s first ever April cohort, following the school’s ambitious move to become the first vet school in the UK to operate a dual intake system from the start of the academic year in September 2019.

Since they joined the University in April at the height of the UK lockdown, the school has been able to offer a full and successful programme of technology-assisted Fresher’s Week and teaching activities.

However, the early return of the April cohort will enable face-to-face teaching that cannot be delivered remotely, specifically essential animal handling and health and safety skills required before students can embark on the work experience element of their course.

The practical sessions will form part of a blended approach to learning, with other lectures and tutorial support continuing to be delivered remotely to reduce the number of students in teaching buildings at any one time.

Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science Professor Gary England said: “We have missed being on campus with our students tremendously during the coronavirus lockdown and we are excited to be welcoming this cohort to Sutton Bonington in July.

“The health and safety of our students and staff has remained our top priority and has been at the heart of our planning process. Colleagues from across the university have been working intensively on the intricate detail required to ensure that adequate social distancing and hygiene measures are in place to allow this first step in a return to campus.”

Among the measures which have been introduced are:

  • A new one-way system and increased signage in the teaching buildings to control the flow of pedestrians and ensure adequate social distancing
  • Availability of hand sanitiser at building entrances and enhanced cleaning in both teaching buildings and accommodation to ensure a rigorous standard of hygiene
  • Safety screens at till points in the shop and coffee shop
  • Offering a two-hour arrival slot for students, online registration and asking them to arrive with only one other person to assist with moving in to reduce the numbers of people on campus
  • Accommodating the students on campus in cluster flats treated as a household and keeping students in ‘bubbles’ for their teaching sessions to avoid exposure to larger groups of people
  • Access to open air sports and indoor Students’ Union society and Sutton Bonington Guild activities in line with Government guidance, as well as fun social activities being organised by the accommodation provider Campus Living Villages including a Google inter-flat Quiz, online yoga, a scavenger hunt, Sutton Bonington Bake Off – with photos of cakes presented and judged via Facebook, and a socially-distanced welcome party with burger van and BBQ.

Renowned for its student experience and quality of teaching, the school was able to move its pre-start and Fresher’s Week activities for the new April cohort to remote delivery.

The School already provides its new students with vouchers for laptops, and these have proved invaluable, allowing students to access both new student and academic resources. Staff and current students worked hard to welcome the new students, including having numerous senior students acting as mentors, being provided with a school t-shirt, tutor-led 360 virtual tours of the school and a welcome talk by the Dean.

Each student has been offered weekly contact with tutors, access to live lectures, evening seminars, quizzes, breakfast meetings with the Dean, and a range of other events to keep students motivated.

Caelyn Millar is a new student who joined in April. She said: “I knew being part of the first April cohort in the UK would mean that my university experience was going to be unconventional, but nobody expected what changes the Coronavirus would bring. Despite all these challenges, Nottingham Vet School has been fantastic and from day one I have felt like part of their community. I feel really positive about my future at Nottingham and I cannot wait to get down there!”

The return of the Vet School cohort, and the successful re-starting of face to face education at University of Nottingham Ningbo China at the end of April, where 5,000 students are now back on campus, will form the blueprint for the return of the majority of students to the University’s UK campuses when the new academic term begins on 21 September.

Many of the University’s programmes are already taught through small-group settings such as seminars, laboratory classes and tutorials, which will continue while following any national safety guidelines in place at the time. Some larger-scale lectures may need to be delivered through guided learning, using educational technologies or through interactive sessions with lecturers.

Following the Vet School’s example, social distancing measures will be in place across teaching and study spaces, offices, halls of residence, laboratories, cafes, meeting rooms, sports facilities, libraries, support services and outdoor spaces. New systems will be in place to guide people through buildings, including the introduction of dedicated entrances and exits along with one-way systems, queues and distance markers.

Buildings will be cleaned and disinfected regularly, and additional handwashing and sanitising facilities will be provided. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided where it is required in specific circumstances, for example clinical teaching and research facilities.

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