Graduation postponed and university closure due to coronavirus outbreak

Easter break has started a week early

Graduation has been postponed and Easter break has commenced a week early, starting today, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Following on from yesterday’s update that said the university would remain open as normal, an email was sent to students this morning that said summer graduations would be postponed “until further notice” so that we will have a longer academic year “to ensure the successful completion of our students’ education.”

The university is closing for easter today, a week early, meaning all of next week’s lectures and classes are cancelled. However, summer term is still expected to start as normal on 20th April.

Despite the early closing of university, Varsity on Sunday is currently still going ahead.

The email also said all international and UK field trips for the next six weeks are postponed “with immediate affect”. Those that are travelling on university business have been asked to “think carefully” about their method of travel.

A new absence hotline is launching on Monday, this is for staff to inform the university if they are unwell or self-isolating.

Students are still able to stay in residences over the Easter break, as conferences that were being held at the university are to be cancelled, the email said.

This comes after the UK Government moved from “contain” to “delay” phase in its handling of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The email in full:

“Dear Students,

“The Government yesterday moved from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’ phase in its handling of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and the national risk level has been raised from Moderate to High. Apart from increased guidance around self-isolation in the event of a fever and a cough, there were no immediate implications for educational institutions.

“At yesterday’s meeting of the University’s Business Continuity Committee we have made the pragmatic decision to bring forward by one week the end of this current term to the end of today Friday 13 March 2020. We will keep any impact to the absolute minimum and ensure all students can successfully complete their term’s learning. No teaching will take place next week, but the University will remain fully open and operational in line with current Government advice, apart from the planned University closure days around Easter.

“Colleagues will be working hard during the student vacation to put plans in place to support the immediate needs and future opportunities for delivering our teaching and learning, and to ensuring our final year undergraduate and postgraduate students can successfully complete their studies at Southampton.

“We are planning for the summer term to start as normal on Monday 20 April 2020 and look forward to seeing our students return on that date, unless we inform them of any change.

“We have also made some other changes to our normal working practices:

“We are postponing with immediate effect all international and UK field trips for the next six weeks.

“There will be no international staff travel on University business, unless demonstrated to be essential and an approved risk assessment is in place.

“We will be asking people to think very carefully about their UK travel on University business, and their method of travel.

“The offer holder visit day on campus on Saturday 28 March will be cancelled, and all conferences to be held at the University during the Easter vacation are to be cancelled. This will also enable us to ensure residences are available for students staying with us during this period.

“Summer graduations are being postponed until further notice, so that we have a longer academic year in which to ensure the successful completion of our students’ education.

“A new staff absence hotline will launch on Monday to enable colleagues to quickly and easily inform the University if they are unwell or self-isolating. Details will be circulated separately.”

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