‘Blended learning’ still a reality for Cardiff Uni during local lockdown

I mean, can Miss Rona start behaving now?

Cardiff University is planning to resume their ‘blended learning’ and in-person teaching during Cardiff’s local lockdown, which was brought into effect by the Welsh Government on Sunday 6pm.

The odds on face-to-face lectures and seminars being put on hold two years ago would see the majority of Cardiff’s student population jumping for joy, but Covid-19 has actually made us all want to get back into uni and start getting the full value of our £9k tuition fees. However, the new local lockdown rules in Cardiff specify that extended ‘bubbles’ amongst households cannot continue and people must not socialise indoors with anyone other than the people they live with. So, where does this leave lectures and seminars that bring students from several households into one space?

Well, The Cardiff Tab asked Cardiff Uni about their plans now that a local lockdown has been imposed, and a spokesperson said: “The safety of our staff and students at this time is paramount. We’ve worked hard to put protective measures in place in accordance with official guidance and worked closely with Public Health Wales, the Welsh government, with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and with Cardiff City Council to ensure our campus is safe in these unprecedented times”.

In relation to what the “protective measures” are, the spokesperson went on to say: “We have two-metre social distancing throughout our buildings and in all teaching spaces, we require the wearing of face coverings (with exemptions recognised) and have enhanced hygiene regimes in place.

“These control measures have been approved by Public Health Wales and if followed, will help to ensure our campus is COVID safe allowing us to continue to provide face-to-face teaching as part of a blended learning provision, supported by some online elements.”

The Cardiff Tab asked students what their thoughts were on attending uni during a local lockdown. A third-year ENCAP student said: “I’m feeling pretty mixed about it. I’m fine with going into uni because it seems like they’ve done their best to make everything COVID secure, I just worry about moving back to Cardiff when there’s a local lockdown. I worry about getting stuck and not being able to see my family”.

A second-year MLang student said she has been “promised at least one lesson a week” and she is “happy to go in” because the “lecturers have made [her] feel really comfortable” and offered the students a choice of whether to attend physical seminars or not. Likewise, a third-year SHARE student said: “they’ve promised a face-to-face ‘masterclass’ for our dissertations every two weeks and those sessions are for two hours”. They went on to say “I’m very happy to go in as long as I know the uni are sticking to COVID health and safety guidelines. It’s my final year and I don’t want to totally miss out on my last year of uni experiences”.

In an email sent to third-year SHARE students, a lecturer said “in a room where there’d usually be 160 people, expect for it to only have the capacity for 12” – the story of a uni student’s life in 2020.

However, not every student is feeling entirely confident about in-person teaching and some are questioning whether their course really needs to run the risk of potentially spreading COVID amongst students. A third-year English Literature student said, “I don’t mind going in but I think it seems unnecessary for English Lit as there’s no practical work”.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Cardiff is going into a local lockdown

• So you’re coming back to Cardiff, but what are the rules?

• Cardiff SU says students will not get good value for money this year in leaked document