University life set to drastically change post-COVID

 

 

Students who live at the usually lively Sancta Sophia College at Sydney University have been warned. Visits from friends have been banned for the time being as have parties.

"At present, we continue to have a 'no visitors' and 'no social events' policy in place," an update sent to students last week said.

"It is hoped that restrictions such as these can be relaxed by Semester 2 but, as with the return of students, we cannot be certain of our position next week, let alone in two months' time."

The note concedes it is not feasible to police every student's behaviour but makes clear it is in everyone's interest to stop the spread of coronavirus.

"There will be a high level of expectation upon each individual member of the Sancta community to act responsibly, call out recklessness and adjust to the changed ways of living and interacting here at Sancta."

This is the new reality of student life as universities try to develop plans to get their students back to normal in a safe way without spreading COVID-19.

First year UWS Bachelor of Midwifery students Cassandra Brackenbury and Brie Smith. Picture: Dylan Robinson
First year UWS Bachelor of Midwifery students Cassandra Brackenbury and Brie Smith. Picture: Dylan Robinson

At the University of NSW, where students are not expected to return to face-to-face learning until the middle of September, some higher Degree Research candidates and research teams were back on campus after getting approval from management earlier this month.

But spontaneous trips to the library are now a thing of a pre COVID-19 past. Students who wish to study quietly at a desk must make a reservation online. And then only just over 200 students out of approximately 60,000 will be granted access because there is only limited floor space available in the library.

"Main Library floor capacity is 100, Law Library floor capacity is 80 and Paddington Library floor capacity is 30," an update posted to the university's library website states.

Students at UNSW must pre-book a desk at the university’s library. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
Students at UNSW must pre-book a desk at the university’s library. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

 

A university spokeswoman said the plan was to have normal tutorials resume by mid-September but said normal in-person lectures could be conducted online for the remainder of the year.

Meanwhile The University of Sydney's historic Fisher Library opened on Monday after being shuttered for months.

Unlike UNSW, students do not have to book ahead but now must promise to wipe down any desks and computers they use with antibacterial wipes before and after use.

They are also told on entry not approach library staff "as face-to-face services are not available".

In person classes could potentially resume as soon as June 29 during winter school but lecture halls will be limited to just 50 per cent of students and staff on campus, according to a plan to return to normal service released by the University.

The start of semester two has been postponed by three weeks to August 24 so staff can work out how best to manage the combination of online and face-to-face learning.

"We'll continue to hold lectures online next semester, and focus on small group teaching as we resume our face-to-face teaching in a staged way," a university spokeswoman said.

The University of Technology Sydney is expected to also return to face-to-face teaching for semester 2 but it is still working through the logistics of what that would look like.

Currently students living on campus are told to "avoid get-togethers or parties in your room or common areas."

 

UNSW students are not expected to return to face-to-face learning until mid September.
UNSW students are not expected to return to face-to-face learning until mid September.

At Western Sydney University, practical subjects like midwifery have continued but with stringent precautions.

"Students, in a small number of selected units, have the opportunity to progress through essential practical components of their course, to support their learning and progression," she said.

Midwifery student Brie Smith said every single student entering her practical subjects in the university's labs had their temperature checked.

"They only had 10 student per room and we had to pick a corner of the room to sit as far away from each other," she said.

"We had to have our own chair which we wiped down periodically, there were bottles of hand sanitiser everywhere."

Fellow Bachelor of Midwifery student Cassandra Brackenbury, 21, said the university was returning to normal in a way which benefited both students and staff.

"I feel very safe, there was a high level of communication around what is required of us to have a safe environment," she said.

 

Originally published as University life set to drastically change post-COVID



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