So, What did 2020 look like for A level students and school leavers?
End of school celebrations and proms were cancelled due to lockdowns and social distancing measures. Those hoping to head to Bath university in September 2020 probably knew it was going to be a fresher’s week like no other, because of Covid-19 restrictions were remaining in place. First year University students no doubt collectively entered a phase of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but all was not lost.
Enter a freshers week like no other!
Bath University worked extremely hard to facilitate the return of their new and existing students by creating pop-up venues around the campus with businesses running bars and marquess all operating under the strict Covid-19 guidelines. This created a fun but safe atmosphere, which was important for student’s mental health and wellbeing. Entertainment from Baths nightclub Moles and comedy club Komedia were also invited to help run the venues. Events were hosted every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night that ended at 10pm in line with, the now imposed, curfew.
This creative approach ‘contained’ the students and minimised the risk of spikes of Covid-19 cases. Without this approach, frustrated students may have ventured further afield to create their own entertainment, as was the case in Scotland and America.
New ways of learning
With fresher’s week out of the way it was time for students to adapt to the new ways of learning which was online, learning remotely from halls of residence, as opposed to crowded lectures theatres and campus buildings. Many students found this quite stressful as there were lots of different platforms to get used to. Many students took solace in the fact that the lecturers were also new to ‘new ways of learning’ too! Some students found these lectures useful as they were recorded meaning they could choose to watch them on catch up? – a bit like Netflix and Amazon Video, well sort of.
Life on Campus
Life on campus was also looking quite different for students.
A spokesperson from Bath University said:
"Across campus we have taken numerous steps including putting social distancing measures in place, enhancing cleaning regimes, creating one-way systems and repurposing our spaces on campus to allow for this.”
Along with these noticeable changes to the environment came the governmental advice to Universities on testing students and lecturers who are asymptomatic (do not have symptoms of COVID-19) and to have two Lateral Flow Tests (LFT’s) before they returned to study and teach.
It was now imperative for Bath University to create a safe place for this. The sports hall at the University was no longer in use due to social distancing, so automatically, became the designated place for the testing to be carried out. The Events manger Lisa Ashcroft was the designated person to organize this.
How were Office Reality Involved?
In November 2020 the testing phase was ramped up as it was going to be necessary to test the students before they travelled home Christmas. We were contacted by Lisa to supply a large quantity of protective screens. Two types of protection screens were chosen with the first being the Staysafe clear protection screens which are split panel and have Perspex on the upper section and a choice of different finishes for the lower section. The second type of screen was a desk top screen (The Defen Safety Shield Screen) which was used to protect the administrator and tester from each student being tested. Both screens act as a suitable barrier against bacteria and potential viral transmission against Covid -19. These screens together created individual testing stations at the University campus and within the City of Bath for those students who were not residing in halls.
Staff and some available students were also required to undertake a series of NHS training in order to carry out the testing procedures. This was a win win situation for the students who applied because they were paid by the University which in turn kept the campus cafeterias busy and operational.
The screens were required within a tight timeframe in order for the university to start the training program. We were pleased that we could deliver the sneeze screens on time in order to achieve this.
It was a massive operation with over 400 – 500 students being tested twice a week, 7 Days a week., currently they are testing students Monday to Friday, but still twice a week. The screens and booths have created a safe environment for testing and will be used until the end of June 2021.
Lisa Ashcroft continued:
“It was such a relief that Office Reality could meet our requirements and deliver (on time) a number of protective screens. This enabled us to start our training program and to continue testing students in a safe environment. Along with other extensive safety measures that we have carried out this was one of the key parts in the ongoing project to keep our staff and students safe.
The testing systems we have in place, coupled with the excellent progress of the national vaccination program, give us cause to put in place flexible but optimistic plans for a return to a more normal year ahead.”