March 17, 2020
Following yesterday’s announcement from our Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andy Collop, about the switch to online learning at DMU and the need for home-studying wherever possible, the government issued new stringent directives for ‘social-distancing’ to help counter the outbreak of COVID-19.
As a result, we understand that you will have many different questions or concerns, depending on your individual circumstances. These are unprecedented times for our university and the wider community so we really appreciate your patience, understanding and co-operation as we adjust to a new national and global emergency.
Teaching and learning update
Having taken the decision to move all our teaching online from Monday (23 March), we are now in a position to provide a further update.
Firstly, we want to reiterate that our priority right now is your own health and that of those closest to you and we have been taking these steps to ensure this can be your first consideration.
Secondly, we want to ensure you are able to complete your studies or progress on to your next stage of study as soon as possible.
Here are the key points:
- The online learning starting from Monday will take a different form depending on your Programme and Faculty. You should consult Blackboard at the end of the working day on Friday for all the information on next steps.
- From that point, any information you need about your course or module will be on Blackboard in the usual way. That is how you will find your course-specific information.
- All laboratories and workshops where protective personal equipment (such as lab coats and/or safety glasses/goggles) is used will close at the end of TODAY, 17 March. Please be reassured that no student will be disadvantaged by this decision. If it means you have not been able to complete activities related to assessments, we will take this into account and find alternative means of assessing your work.
- All other labs, studios, and workshops (not including computer labs) will close at the end of the day on Friday, 20 March.
- Any deadlines involving work NOT in these specific labs or workshops still stand for this week.
- Any students with health or personal circumstances who feel they are unable to meet these deadlines should consult their personal tutor in the normal way.
- Please be reassured we will do whatever is required to allow you to complete your degree or progress to your level, and we will let you know about any changes as soon as they are determined.
- All Faculties are considering alternative assessments in place of some exams wherever possible, while still allowing for successful completion.
- At present, we are expecting to run exams or the alternative assessments within the current advertised exam period. Should this change, we will give you the information well ahead of time.
We have also made the very difficult decision to postpone our summer graduation ceremonies to an as-yet undetermined date.
We know this will be disappointing but we want to assure you that you will still have the opportunity to attend a ceremony to celebrate your success at some point in the future, once the global situation is clearer.
We will aim to let you know your degree outcome as close to the normal time as possible. It is just the ceremonies which will be postponed.
The picture around placements is complicated and we will be providing fuller details as the week progresses.
What we can say is that your health and wellbeing must be your priority – any student who feels uncomfortable at their workplace should contact their link tutor or placement tutor to arrange to withdraw.
We are aware some office-based placements have already sent staff, including students, home. The placement teams and faculties are working closely to provide appropriate advice and support for each type of placement.
Your single source for coronavirus news for staff and students
Please note that we will be issuing daily updates on a new dedicated Coronavirus Advice and Information’ website for students and staff. The new webpages will include the following sections:
- Information for students (including FAQs on how this impacts teaching, exams, assessments, graduations, wellbeing etc.)
- Latest updates (including national government announcements)
- Postponed or cancelled events (for example, the Festival of Teaching has been postponed indefinitely)
- Facilities updates (for example, the QEII and The Venue are both to close for a prolonged period between Monday 23 March and Sunday 26 April)
- Information for staff.
We want to reiterate that the health and wellbeing of our students and staff is of paramount importance and will guide everything we do, while we also adhere to the evolving advice and guidance from the UK government.
We know how worrying and confusing the current situation is. We want to assure you that we will communicate all developments as soon as decisions are made so that you can know what to expect. Your port of call for specific information relating your programme will be on Blackboard, in the usual way.
Thanks to all of you who have responded by email or via social media. Please be aware that it may not be possible to answer all queries immediately while the university collectively works on the transition to online teaching and home studying and working. There will be gaps that emerge in our business operations and student provision given the extraordinary circumstances we’re all adjusting to, but we will fill these as we go along at the earliest opportunity, so we’ll be relying on your continued patience and understanding in the days and weeks ahead.
Posted on Tuesday 17th March 2020