Tough measures imposed as thousands flock to Lancashire's universities

Lancashire's university chiefs are putting tough measures in place to make sure their campuses are Covid-safe as thousands of students flock to the county.

By Sonja Astbury
Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 3:26 pm

The first semester of the new academic year starts in a couple of weeks, but it will not be a case of business as usual for the thousands of freshers.

Despite fears from the University and College lectures Union , universities across Lancashire are planning a mixture of online and face to face classes with no more than 30 per cent of the entire student body allowed on campuses at any one time.

The UCU has come under fire after general secretary Dr Jo Grady called for a delay in face-to-face teaching and claimed that the new term could lead to universities becoming 'the care homes of a second wave' of coronavirus.

UCLan is putting covid-safety measure in place to welcome studenst back to campus

But university chiefs say they are prepared.

The tough rules will mean freshers week won't involve the usual street parties and city centre events associated with the start of university life but students will be invited to meet their lecturers, and book into clubs etc on an organised time-allotted basis.

The University of Central Lancashire has introduced a wide variety of additional safety measures which include keeping the main Preston campus open seven days a week to allow for a more flexible timetable.

A spokesman said: "Before students and staff come onto campus we will be asking them to complete a training module about the virus and how it spreads and what they can do to prevent it.

"We have also launched a new app called SafeZone which will allow anyone in our campus community to send a location-based alert from their smartphone or tablet to our 24x7 on-campus security team whenever they need an immediate emergency response, first-aid or any other general assistance. It means that people can report any issues including those around social distancing."

Clear signage and keep left systems as well as safety ambassadors will be in place to boost social distancing and there will be controlled access for staff and students via a UCLan ID card to all buildings.

Other measures include hand sanitiser stations around the campuses and there will be extra cleaning in classrooms, study and social spaces

The numbers using the library will also be restricted and there will be of a ‘click and collect’ service for library resources.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said: “While the excitement builds for a return to our campuses, we have to ensure that health and safety remains our priority.

"We are ensuring every sensible and reasonable step is taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We will be operating the same high standards that many workplaces have adopted to minimise the spread of infections.

"The clear social distancing and sanitisation protocols will mean that university life will be slightly different from that we’ve known previously but we are doing all we can to provide an authentic experience.

"We are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students to UCLan ensuring they have face-to-face learning opportunities as far as possible on a weekly basis and can access our Library, all in a safe and secure environment."

The pre-school, on the Preston campus, will reopen to coincide with the start of the new term.The Students’ Union will open from September, including the Atrium and Source Bar on the Preston campus where food and drink will be served under social distancing guidelines.

Opportunities for sporting activities will still be available and there will also be a mix of physical and online social experiences based on where students live and study.

UCLan Students’ Union President, Zuleikha Chikh,said: "We’re looking forward to welcoming new and returning students to campus and continue to work in partnership with the University to ensure the health and safety of students is a priority.

"Helping students to meet new people, have fun and feel part of the student community makes September one of our favourite times of the year and we know Welcome Week is an important time for that to start.

"We have been working on a programme of online and on campus events and activity. We can’t wait to share our plans over the next couple of weeks and will be posting important updates on our website and social media channels. The Students’ Union may be operating a little differently this Welcome Week, but we’re doing everything we can to ensure students have a great University experience and feel like ‘one of us’.”

Prof Baldwin added: "The students’ return to the Preston campus will also coincide with the reopening of Friargate, a major milestone in our new Student Centre and Square development and we hope this reopening and the return of students will be good news for local businesses."

A video of the university’s new safety initiatives can be viewed online.

Lancaster, Edge Hill and the University of Cumbria are also implementing tough safety measures and also holding a mixture of online and campus-based teaching.