Scotland

Coronavirus: Scottish universities and colleges announce new measures

Glasgow University bell tower Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Glasgow University is one of those introducing online assessment

Scotland's colleges and universities are introducing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Universities in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen said they were moving to online teaching and examinations.

St Andrews University said a student who had recently been in Switzerland had tested positive for coronavirus.

And Glasgow University confirmed three individuals connected with the establishment had tested positive for the virus.

Glasgow University, the University of the West of Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University told students not to attend their campuses from Monday.

Course materials are being put online.

Glasgow University also informed students that exams would not be taking place in the usual halls, and it was making special arrangements for assessments to take place online.

Scottish universities began to announce their contingency plans as the first death of a patient with coronavirus in Scotland was confirmed in the Lothian area, and the number of positive tests for Covid-19 rose to 85.

Aberdeen University said it was suspending all face-to-face teaching from 18:00 on Friday.

Principal George Boyne has written to students confirming the cancellation of lectures, tutorials and lab classes.

The university itself will remain open, and will issue further guidance on Monday about online learning measures.

It said the wellbeing of its students was its first priority and it was reviewing options for assessments.

The University of Edinburgh said the vast majority of its undergraduate teaching would be carried out remotely from 23 March.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The University of Edinburgh is making new arrangements for undergraduate teaching

A spokesman said teaching would be "paused" next week except where activity could not be replaced.

He said: "First and second year students will assessed on the basis of work already submitted as an alternative to exams. Those in third year and beyond will take their exams online.

"Students should be assured that they will achieve their qualifications on time and an Edinburgh degree will still hold the same value."

Glasgow Caledonian University said its Glasgow and London campuses would cease face-to-face teaching from Monday for the foreseeable future. Students have been told not to come to campus.

The move follows the self-isolation of a student with coronavirus symptoms.

It said online teaching would start the following Monday.

Over the weekend more institutions announced their plans:

  • Strathclyde University and University of Dundee will suspend face-to-face teaching from Monday although campuses would remain open
  • Heriot Watt University will cease face-to-face teaching from Wednesday until further notice
  • The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will move to distance learning from Monday and has cancelled all performances until further notice
Image caption Lanark Grammar School was closed temporarily after news of a self-isolation connected to the school

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: "Universities have no plans to close. They are closely following the public health advice as they make their plans to manage the likely impact of Covid-19 and minimise the disruption experienced by students and staff over the coming days and weeks.

"They have made sensible contingency arrangements and as part of that, they will transition to online learning and assessment, where possible, and create more opportunities for staff to work remotely. University services, including advice and support for students and research remain in place."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday that widespread school closures were not yet necessary. But some councils and schools have taken preventative measures.

Lanark Grammar School in South Lanarkshire has closed temporarily after an individual from the school tested positive and went into self isolation at home.

The secondary school is due to reopen on Monday after a deep clean.

Twenty-six schools on the Shetland mainland will close for a week from Monday as a result of the outbreak. Early Learning and Child Care Settings will also be shut.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has said there will be no changes to the exam timetable "at present".

It urged learners, parents, schools and colleges to "continue to prepare as normal".

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