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Students and lockdown: looking after the University of Sunderland family

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Published on 04 November 2020

Safety first
Safety first

The University of Sunderland will be supporting, teaching and caring for thousands of students during the four-week lockdown.

Today, students, staff and academics came together, pledging to support each other and ensure studies are unaffected by the new guidelines and that students are being cared for in University accommodation.

New figures show that in the last seven days 14 students and three staff have tested positive for Covid-19. All of those affected are receiving University support and cases are being managed according to public health requirements.

Georgios Vasilakis, 19, from Greece moved to Sunderland in September to study Web and Mobile Development.

The student will spend the lockdown in the city but says he feels confident in the support being offered by the University.

He said: “We are being kept up to date every few days with the latest developments and the Vice-Chancellor has been sending us messages keeping us informed.

“I’m staying in private student accommodation in the city but it’s nice to know that the support is there should I need it.

“The wellbeing services are available all the time and we are aware of what we need to do and the help we can access should we need to self-isolate.”

Georgios is just one of hundreds of student the University will be supporting in the coming weeks.

The University’s priorities will remains steadfast over the coming weeks - to focus on providing the best possible learning experience while ensuring the campuses are safe and secure for all our staff and students.

The hybrid approach to learning is enabling students to benefit from a blend of online and in-person teaching and have access to wider facilities such as socially distanced study spaces, libraries and other support services.

It is vitally important to the wellbeing of the student community that they are able to continue with their studies during this period.

Lee Hall, Head of School of Media and Communications, said: “Our hybrid model of teaching continues during the lockdown period, in line with government guidance.

“Our aim is to offer the students the best of both worlds - safe and secure learning when they need to access facilities on campus as well as much more flexibility online.

“Ensuring students are safe, feel supported and that their learning continues uninterrupted are our priorities. That means regular group discussions, personal academic tutor meetings and dialogue with student reps to make sure we respond to the needs of all learners.

“In the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries we are also hosting our Creative Industries Week, which provides a much need-needed break from regular study through a packed schedule of inspirational industry talks and workshops.”

The University was this year named University of the Year for Social Inclusion in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The Wellbeing Team at the University today gave this message to students.

“Our students are part of ‘Team Sunderland’ and have so much support in place to help you get through.

“Everyone will be reacting in their own way. Some people might be feeling frustrated, down or anxious. Some will be concerned about finances, health and loved ones.    Whatever is happening, it’s ok to be feeling this way.

“Wellbeing is here to support any students who may be struggling.  We offer a wide range of personalised support ranging from 1-1 therapeutic support to mindfulness sessions, coaching, workshops and groupwork.  We also offer a range on online support which is available 24/7.

“We are particularly keen to ensure that no one is feeling is lonely or feeling isolated at this time.

“We offer a weekly Global Friendship Group and all our students are invited via Zoom.

“Student Journey and your Student Union offer a range of activities and opportunities to get involved including the SU Buddy scheme.

“No matter how big or how small concerns may be, we are here for all our students and together we will get through this.”

Diogo Quintas, President: Wellbeing at the Sunderland Students’ Union says: “We are working hard to support students as we enter a second lockdown.

“Our Advice service specialises in academic and housing advice and is completely free and available to support students with a range of issues in these areas.

“SU Buddies matches existing students with new students to offer peer-to-peer support and our shopping-dropping service is designed to support students isolating in halls with shopping deliveries as well as providing a valuable volunteering opportunity for students who want to lend a hand.”

Georgios Chnarakis, President: Education at the SU added: “We understand the importance of linking the academic experience with the social experience and have just launched Academic Societies, which gives all students an opportunity to engage in student led activity linked to their area of study.

“I can reassure you that the University is doing everything possible to provide the same teaching experience and quality as it did in the past years. The lecturers are always there when students need them and I can see they're working hard to accommodate everyone's needs.”