As the University of Reading begins to welcome more staff and students back to its campuses, CONNECTED finds out what university life will look like and what measures have been put in place to keep everyone safe.
The University of Reading’s UK campuses effectively closed in March during the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government, remaining open only for those students who could not return home. A huge thank you goes out to all members of staff who remained on campus to look after our students during lockdown.
With autumn term starting on 28 September, and more restrictions imposed by the Government this week following a national increase in coronavirus cases, CONNECTED takes a look at the plans the University has put in place to enable campus to reopen:
A phased return
The University’s roadmap to return is built on a phased and careful approach. It includes mechanisms to support both a strong presence on campus and the ongoing need for flexible and remote working and studying – in recognition of the continuing social distancing and travel restrictions.
As part of the first phase in July 2020, the University introduced a ‘Click and Collect’ library service to enable students to collect books contact-free, and created recording facilities to support academics with needing to film lectures for remote learning. Through the different phases, the University has also been adapting buildings, reconfiguring for social distancing, installing safety screens, signs, and hand sanitiser stations. All academic schools and support functions have undertaken detailed local risk assessments, putting in place any additional required control measures.
The University has already opened for enrolment and welcome activities, followed by the start of term on 28 September. Welcome activities and teaching will use a blended approach – a mix of interactive online activities combined with face-to-face socially distanced elements. As we return, staff and students are being encouraged to play their role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community.
The University is committed to ensuring that our students continue to benefit from all that university life has to offer, providing the best possible experience, while protecting everyone’s health and safety. To achieve this, we will be doing some things differently this academic year.
Reading has carefully designed a blended learning environment, combining face-to-face interactive sessions and online content to provide the best learning experience for both students on campus, and those who may need to study remotely temporarily.
From the autumn term, all core course content will be made available online and regular interactive sessions will take place on campus and online.
Content that would typically be delivered through large lectures will now be provided digitally, reducing the health risk from large groups in confined spaces. This also enables us to use teaching rooms for interactive sessions with smaller groups, which will be complemented by online interactive activities for those studying remotely.
The University has designed this approach to offer the greatest flexibility, giving students more control over their learning, while also allowing us to respond to the latest developments and health requirements as the year progresses.
The University recognises that a student experience is about so much more than just the course – and that is why we are also adapting our campus facilities and services to provide a safe and supportive environment to study, live and socialise in.
Appropriate social distancing measures will be applied to all facilities and services, and all of the following information is subject to the latest government advice:
- Online services are available for the Library, including its ‘Click and Collect’ service.
- Our Catering outlets have reopened and will offer a wide range of meals, snacks and drinks.
- The Co-op is open with restrictions on queueing and numbers allowed in at one time.
- The SportsPark is open with protocols in place to provide a COVID-19 safe environment.
- Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) is also working to offer as full a range of events and activities as possible.
The University has been guided by government advice and the safety of our community at every stage of reopening our UK campuses. And as the national or local position changes, Reading is ready to respond with plans in place for a range of different scenarios.
Find out more about the University’s return to campus.