Given the present situation with COVID-19, we appreciate that parents will be concerned about their children’s safety on campus and whilst on clinical placements.
To give some background, whilst present Governmental advice is for most university teaching to be delivered fully online, this advice is different for students studying MBChB Medicine, as important aspects of their curriculum cannot be delivered remotely. For this reason, it remains our intention to deliver clinical skills and anatomy teaching face-to-face on campus and, where possible, to continue with clinical placements.
Students are kept regularly informed as to the measures we are taking to reduce their COVID-19 risk, including social distancing on campus, and we repeatedly emphasise the importance of their compliance with these measures. Where it is not possible to maintain social distancing during teaching – eg, during group teaching or whilst on placement – students are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce their infection risk. Additionally, we have processes in place to identify students who test positive for COVID-19, so that we can ensure that they and any close student and staff contacts then isolate according to present advice.
We are honest with our students that, for all of the measures mentioned above, we cannot eliminate their risk of infection, particularly given that there is little we can do to mitigate factors that are unrelated to their teaching. Most students are at low risk of severe infection or complications from COVID-19, but we are conscious that this is not the case for some, and that others will be worried about vulnerable family members. We cannot reliably advise students or their families about such individual circumstances.
For those who perceive that they or their family are at increased risk, we have advised that we will support them as best we are able if they decide to switch to full online teaching. However, we have stressed that, because of the practical nature of their course, missing face-to-face teaching may make it difficult for students to reach the competencies expected of them and so could affect their ability to progress on the course.
This is a fast-moving situation, and you can be assured that we will continue to adapt so that we can continue to strike the right balance between reducing the risk of COVID-19 whilst minimising disruption to our students’ teaching.