University plans to conduct as much in-person teaching as possible next year

Professor Graham Virgo announced plans for next years teaching in light of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions

Following the relaxation of social distancing and other COVID-19 measures, the University has announced that they plan to conduct as much in-person teaching as they “possibly can” for the next academic year.

Small-group teaching such as supervisions, practicals and seminars will be prioritised to take place in person. In an email to all students Professor Graham Virgo, the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, described that this small-group teaching  “is at the heart of the Cambridge experience.” He added that the plans are liable to alter if government guidance changes.

With the move from online teaching, “students will be expected to be in Cambridge for their studies.” With Virgo stating that individual requirements to study remotely will be judged on a case-by-case basis and students who may be affected should contact their college about “temporary permission to study remotely.”

As small-group teaching will be prioritised to stay in-person, some large-group teaching, such as lectures may move online if there is a “strong reason.” Reasons for lectures remaining online include: if it “improves the educational experience,” where “lecture theatres for large cohorts of students” are still being assessed for “safe use” or if “members of staff are unable to teach in person.”

COVID-19 tests will be implemented as students arrive at the beginning of the term, and students are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The email also included a description of the “hierarchy of actions” within the University’s contingency planning. If it becomes necessary to have some “mitigation measures in place,” the university is prepared to introduce “social distancing or face coverings” to “enable in-person teaching.”

If “it becomes necessary to move some or all teaching online due to safety concerns” or “government guidance,” Professor Virgo revealed that lectures will likely be “moved online first.” He added that the university intends to “preserve group teaching sessions and practicals for as long as” they can.

The university is currently in a “transition period” where they have recommended the ongoing use of face coverings and social distancing in indoor work settings. This guidance will be updated as we get closer to the return of students in Michaelmas.

This email comes after reports in the press that the government is considering requiring students to be fully vaccinated to attend lectures and stay in halls this coming academic year.

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