The University of Sussex has sent an email to all students to announce that teaching will be suspended from today (Monday 16 March), and that online teaching will commence from the 23 March. The campus will remain open until further notice.
The email reads:
The University management has decided to suspend all teaching for the week, from today, and begin online teaching from Monday 23 March.
Although there will be no classes on campus this week, the campus will continue to remain open and essential services will still be provided.
We will be sharing specific information with all students on how to use and access your learning online so please keep checking your emails and look out for this guidance.
The wellbeing of our students will always be our number one priority and we hope you understand this measure has been taken as we believe this is best for our community.
Further information will be shared with you later today, so please continue to look at your emails. We will provide as much help and support as possible to all our students.”
In the last week, multiple universities across the UK have also moved classes to online, with some also cancelling exams and assessments until further notice.
According to the most recent figures from the Department of Health, the UK is currently dealing with a confirmed 1,372 cases of COVID-19. The government is said to announce strict self-isolation measures for people over the age of 70 within the coming weeks.
The UK government is currently in the “Delay” phase of their COVID-19 action plan. Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief science advisor, controversially suggested that the UK might try and achieve “herd immunity”, whereby approximately 60% of the population will become infected with the virus in an effort to achieve immunity for the rest.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded by saying this was not a confirmed government strategy, but just one of many ideas which were being considered. He said: “What we will do is listen to all the credible scientists and we will look at all the evidence … Herd immunity is not our goal or policy, it’s a scientific concept.”
Countries such as Spain, Italy, and China have introduced strict self-isolation for the entire population. This involves the full closure of schools, universities, restaurants, and bars, and individuals have been asked to only travel when absolutely necessary. The UK has yet to announce similar measures, instead opting for a slower roll-out of these measures.
The current advice from Public Health England (PHE) is to call NHS 111 if you suspect you are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, or if you have travelled to affected areas within the last 14 days. The importance of washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face, eyes, and mouth has been stressed by medical professionals globally.
The Government has issued a four-part plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus, which you can read here: Coronavirus action plan: a guide to what you can expect across the UK.
This story is developing. Stay tuned for more updates.