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University staff angry that Covid teaching advice was ‘ignored’

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University staff are moving towards confronting their leaders after the revelation that the government’s scientific advisers called for teaching to move online at the start of the academic year last month.



a sign in front of a building: Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

University and College Union members at the University of Sheffield are the latest to call an emergency meeting after lodging a formal grievance, joining branches at the universities of Birmingham, Leeds and Warwick in dispute with their leadership over the handling of coronavirus outbreaks.

Other campus staff represented by Unison are said to be angry at having to deal with threats and abuse from frustrated students trapped in isolation.

An estimated 110 UK universities have reported cases of Covid-19 outbreaks, with around 15,000 students and staff infected so far, since the term began just four weeks ago on some campuses.

The University of Nottingham alone has reported 1,500 active cases among students at the end of last week, out of its 35,000 students enrolled, along with 20 members staff. The week before just 400 cases had been reported.

But concern over staff and students continuing to have face-to-face teaching while infection rates are rising has turned to anger after the release of documents from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee, showing that three weeks ago it advised that all universities should revert to online teaching.



a sign in front of a building: The University of Nottingham reported 1,500 active cases among students at the end of last week.


© Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA
The University of Nottingham reported 1,500 active cases among students at the end of last week.

Sage’s package of measures to contain Covid-19 included a recommendation: “All university and college teaching to be online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential,” until the prevalence of the virus subsides.

Jo Grady, the UCU’s general secretary, said: “Ministers were given clear recommendations on how to stem the spread of the virus before term

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Monmouth University ‘super-spreader event’ led to 125 Covid cases on New Jersey campus

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A “super-spreader event” near Monmouth University led to positive coronavirus tests for more than 100 students and forced the school into all-online classes, officials said Tuesday.

The outbreak was traced to a single off-campus private gathering that resulted in 125 positive Covid-19 cases among the West Long Branch school’s nearly 5,700 pupils, Monmouth spokeswoman Tara Peters told NBC News.

The university would not specify what kind of event it was or when exactly it occurred, only saying it was a “social gathering” that happened roughly two weeks ago.

Before the outbreak, about two-thirds of fall classes were online, about a tenth were in-person and the rest were hybrid online/in-person, according to Peters. Now all classes are being held remotely.

“Our Health Services staff estimate that about 125 cases were connected to that event, either through attendance at the event or subsequent spreading to others by individuals in attendance,” Peters said, adding that all of those “individuals are out of isolation and counted as recovered.”

In an open letter to campus on Friday, Monmouth President Patrick Leahy pleaded with students to follow health and safety protocols.

“It appears that this increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago. An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated super-spreader event,” Leahy said.

“I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance with Monmouth University Covid-19 protocols and State of New Jersey health and safety measures to effectively protect the Monmouth community.”

Woodrow Wilson Hall on Monmouth University's campus in 2017. (Seth Wenig / AP file)
Woodrow Wilson Hall on Monmouth University’s campus in 2017. (Seth Wenig / AP file)

Leahy’s statement came the same day that Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force,said she feared private gatherings — and not mass, public events — are now

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Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden: Where they stand on COVID, education and more

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Amid the tumult of the 2020 presidential campaign, one dynamic has remained constant: The Nov. 3 election offers voters a choice between substantially different policy paths.

President Donald Trump, like many fellow Republicans, holds out tax reductions and regulatory cuts as economic imperatives and frames himself as a conservative champion in the culture wars. The president has offered few details about how he would pull the levers of government in a second term. His most consistent argument focuses on stopping Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his party from pushing U.S. policy leftward.

Biden, for his part, is not the socialist caricature depicted by Trump. But he is every bit a center-left Democrat who frames the federal government as the force to combat the coronavirus, rebuild the economy and address centuries of institutional racism and systemic inequalities. The former vice president and U.S. senator also offers his deal-making past as evidence he can do it again from the Oval Office.

A look at where the rivals stand on key issues:

Economy, taxes

Low unemployment and a soaring stock market were Trump’s calling cards before the pandemic. While the stock market has clawed its way back after cratering in the early weeks of the crisis, unemploymen t stands at 7.9%, and the nearly 10 million jobs that remain lost since the pandemic began exceed the number that the nation shed during the entire 2008-2009 Great Recession.

Trump has predicted that the U.S. economy will rebound in the third and fourth quarters of this year and is set to take off like a “rocket ship” in 2021. He promises that a coronavirus vaccine or effective therapeutics will soon be available, allowing life to get back to normal. His push for a payroll tax cut over the summer was thwarted by stiff bipartisan opposition.

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Sam Houston State University’s new Conroe campus adjusts to COVID guidelines

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This is the first semester that the new Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Conroe has welcomed students to campus, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year is not starting as anticipated.

The College of Osteopathic Medicine received its pre-accreditation status in September of last year, which allowed the college to start recruiting new students. The school’s first class is 75 students but in about two years the school plans to double that number to meet its full capacity of 150 students.

As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way into Montgomery County, Sam Houston State University began to plan for changes to the new year, keeping in mind all the requirements their students will have to meet to become medical practitioners. Back in March, faculty were asked to work remotely and the school began to plan for a year that looked very different from what was originally planned.


“At first, students had limited time in the building but we felt very strongly that their experiential learning, their lab learning, we needed them in the building to do that, we needed them with their faculty to do that,” said Mari Hopper, associate dean for Biomedical Sciences at the campus.

In order to bring the students to campus safely for their experiential learning, the class was divided into four groups that rotated into the building throughout the day to keep the population in the building low. Before students even arrived, the school put together a video message for them that outlined the expectations in place for being in the building (masks, hand washing, social distancing, etc) with a message from the dean. Classes started on Aug. 10 as planned.

Portions of the classes that were not lab-based are being

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Cardiff University Covid support ‘too little too late’

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Ellie CooperImage copyright
Family Photo

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‘It feels like I’ve paid £9,000 for five new friends and a couple of Zoom classes,’ says Ellie Cooper

A student who is self-isolating at Cardiff University has said coronavirus support feels “too little too late”.

Ellie Cooper, 19, is a first year International Relations student and is self-isolating with four others after a flatmate tested positive.

She said that four out of six flats in her student accommodation block are isolating due to positive cases.

Cardiff University said it was “deeply concerned” to learn of students’ experiences.

  • Wales close to coronavirus tipping point, FM says
  • More than 100 primary school pupils self-isolating

Emails, seen by BBC Wales, sent to students by the university on Sunday, said a mobile testing unit, run by Public Health Wales (PHW), will operate at Talybont student accommodation from Monday.

It also said a university screening service for those without symptoms would begin on Tuesday and offered students a free laundry service and £20 voucher to spend in the “student marketplace”.

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Google

Image caption

Students at the Talybont South halls are having to isolate

But Ms Cooper, from Taunton, Somerset, said she felt “left in the dark” about the spread of cases in student accommodation.

She said she was unable to use the university’s coronavirus screening service last week as she was not showing symptoms, but university staff and NHS Test and Trace have told her to self-isolate.

“They should’ve had this information in place earlier, it is too little too late. So we wouldn’t have had to panic and go and look for other support,” she said.

“They should’ve known we would get corona, even if you didn’t go out lots. People interact all the time here, just going to the laundry, or at the gym,”

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