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Dear students,

Today I’d like to share with you a decision we made this week on the direction of travel St George’s will be taking for the start of the next academic year. Our aim is that these plans can be responsive to any changes in national guidelines for Covid-19, so we have chosen a path that can adapt to any future tightening of restrictions.

In brief:

  1. We expect all cohorts to start on the usual schedule. Specific dates for each programme and cohort can be found on the website.
  2. Importantly, the majority of teaching will be online until at least the end of December, including lectures, small group teaching, seminars and personal tutor meetings.
  3. For students on clinical programmes, we expect you will be going out on placements (dependent on safety assurances and provider willingness to accept students), but these will necessarily be adapted to a clinical environment and practices altered by the response to Covid-19.
  4. Only essential, hands-on, skills-based teaching and assessment (e.g. laboratory practicals, clinical skills, simulation, dissecting room teaching and OSCEs) will take place on-site, contingent on safety measures being in place. Social distancing will be maintained, but where close contact is needed (e.g. clinical examination) PPE will be provided.

Safety onsite

Ensuring a safe environment onsite next term is a top priority for the University. Maintaining social distancing in teaching laboratories, the dissecting room and facilities for clinical skills and simulation will mean running multiple sessions for fewer students. We are currently working intensively to organise timetabling that consolidates your onsite sessions, to avoid multiple visits for short periods.

We are also looking at how we can allow access to key facilities such as computers, printing and study space while taking into consideration all the safety guidelines. The situation for student research projects is contingent on research operations planning and we will keep you updated with progress on this.

Online education development

At the same time, a major project is underway to transform education across all programmes in readiness for next term’s online learning, building on the rapid move online over the past two months. Evaluation of how this has gone so far is guiding this work, enriched by your perspectives expressed in SOLTS module feedback, Unitu comments and course surveys. Most of the feedback has been positive – some students say that teaching has been better online – while others have indicated what hasn’t worked well for them. Several of you see the move online as an opportunity for a fresh approach to teaching and learning, a view I share.

Student involvement

We would like to involve students from all programmes in the online curriculum project and invite expressions of interest from any of you who would like to work alongside staff as Student Curriculum Advisors. You will be paid for your time. Please send expressions of interest to Jeff Saddington-Wiltshire by 7 June 2020, addressed to me, explaining why you are interested.

During the first week of June we plan to hold a series of half-hour Q & A sessions to address questions you may have about our general approach for next term. These will be themed around your questions, which will be gathered using Unitu - if you have not activated your Unitu account yet you can do that here. Please post or vote for a question here before 12pm on Wednesday 27 May next week.

Finally, for those of you preparing for assessments, Dr Rosie MacLachlan, Senior Lecturer in Learning Development, has a video message for you on this topic (you can find the video's transcript here). More information about support from her team in the Academic Success Centre can be found below.

Best wishes

Professor Jane Saffell 
Deputy Principal (Education) 
St George's, University of London 

Academic Success Centre

The Academic Success Centre supports students with preparing for assessment and is led by Dr Rosie MacLachlan, Senior Lecturer in Learning Development. As well as the video where Rosie discusses the move to online assessments and what you can expect, her team have also published a library blogpost this week on study strategies for preparing for online assessment. If you’d like to book an appointment to speak to Rosie or one of her colleagues about your own study strategies, use this link or see the Study+ area of Canvas.

Horton Halls

It was announced by the Universities Minister on 21 May 2020 that universities may now begin making arrangements for students to collect their belongings from Halls of Residence. We are now beginning the process for students to be able to collect their belongings from Horton Halls.

All collections will be arranged in advance and you will be asked to sign up for a specific time slot. The process we are implementing, which adheres to social distancing guidelines, has been designed to ensure your safety as well as that of your peers, University employees and members of our wider community. To ensure that all the necessary measures are factored into our plan, we will not be able to allow for the immediate collection of belongings.

We hope to be able to contact you during the week commencing 25 May 2020, allowing you to sign up for your collection slot. We will also detail the date range for collection, but we anticipate that this will be from 1 June at the earliest.

Please note, the number of students permitted on site at any given time will be limited, so the collection of belongings will be spread out over at least two weeks.

Students will not be able to access halls until they have signed up to a collection slot or have received prior permission to do so; please do not travel to halls until you receive further instructions from the Accommodation team.

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