Sheffield Hallam announced last Monday that it would “increase the proportion of online teaching” for two weeks as a precautionary measure following a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the city.
The institution said that it wanted all students to retain some on-campus teaching and therefore would keep university buildings – including access to specialist spaces such as labs and studios, libraries and study facilities – open and available for use during this time.
However, a former student has now urged Sheffield Hallam to follow in the footsteps of the University of Sheffield and temporarily suspend all face-to-face teaching, including lab and studio based teaching, to ensure the safety of the whole university community.
The student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "The University of Sheffield leadership have taken robust leadership approach in moving all learning online immediately, they have also suspended all labs, studio etc and have made safety a top priority, they will also review the situation in two weeks before letting anyone step on campus, they have put the safety of staff and students first and should be commended.
"Where’s [sic] Hallam have moved a “proportion of learning online”, what sort of wish washy statement is that! So the students that come on to campus won’t get Covid will they? And they won’t spread it to their friends? Most of this is just common sense. I understand government playing politics but why is Hallam playing Russian roulette with the safety of its staff and students?
"Hallam should of done the decent thing moved all learning online and should of closed, labs, studios etc. We do not want staff to get ill or the fact that they may spread the disease to people back in there homes. We also don’t [want] studios, labs to become a source of Covid etc. This decision should of been taken immediately.”
Sheffield Hallam recorded 373 positive cases of Covid-19 among its staff and students as of 4pm on Monday, October 5, with new figures expected to be released later today.
A spokesperson for the university said: “Sheffield Hallam University is committed to supporting the welfare of all our students, staff and local communities and we have put a wide range of measures in place on campus to help keep everyone safe.
“The university is managing an unprecedented situation and we will continue to adapt and develop our plans over the days and weeks ahead, guided by the need to both keep safe and to provide the best possible learning and working experience.
“Our decision on Monday 5 October to move an increased proportion of teaching online was made following an increase in cases locally, to help reduce risk for students, staff and our wider community, whilst still providing some face-to-face teaching, which is an important part of the learning experience for students. We will keep this position under regular review and will be able to move swiftly to full online delivery if necessary.”