Impact on Universities

Covid-19 discussion, bring your own statistics
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bob sterman
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:47 pm

FlammableFlower wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:51 pm
Students aren't allowed to go home in the event of an outbreak on campus regardless of their own exposure/proximity.
The guidance says....

"Students should follow government guidance published as part of any additional restrictions applied locally, including where this says that students should remain in their current accommodation and not return their family home or other residential accommodation to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through travel."

So presumably this means - if a local lockdown says "stay home" they are supposed to consider the university residence to be "home". These local lockdowns are backed by legislation right? So it could be enforceable?

Unless perhaps they need to travel to the family home to test their eyesight?

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:56 pm

Ok, we have all our first years in campus accommodation, but lots don't. How to enforce the remaining in their digs of a bunch of 18-21(ish)s is going to be interesting. During the first lockdown we eventually brought the few remaining students (mainly overseas students) who hadn't gone home into uni accommodation no matter who they were, but for a while our security staff were making visits around town to check on them - in this case to see if they're ok. But I can't imagine trying to keep tabs on >14,000 students is going to be easy, and the gov's systems don't appear to offer much hope of help...

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snoozeofreason
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by snoozeofreason » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:59 am

It looks as if access to Covid tests is going to be rationed, and I can't see any indication that students will be a priority. Since students are likely to be asymptomatic carriers, the virus could rip through halls of residence without anybody noticing until it spills out into the wider community, perhaps when they go home for Christmas. There's a cheery thought.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:00 pm

So anyone got a clue what's happening? The country is now at COVID Alert Level 4, but what does that mean for uni's? Whilst my institution just put up this:
As you will be aware, the UK Government is changing its alert level from three to four across the UK.

Earlier in the summer, we had tried to set out an indication of what changing alert levels would mean for our operations, acknowledging that we would have to be agile and respond to evolving government advice.

Since then, the Government issued specific advice for Higher Education earlier this month on reopening buildings and campuses which sets out tiers of operation for HE providers.

These are:

Tier 1 (default position): HE providers are expected to provide blended learning, with face-to-face tuition, following the provisions of this guidance, and public health guidance, including, for example, the appropriate use of face coverings

Tier 2 (fallback position): HE providers should move to an increased level of online learning where possible. Providers should prioritise the continuation of face-to-face provision based on their own risk assessment. We expect that, in the majority of cases, this will be for those courses where it is most beneficial (for example, clinical or practical learning and research)

Tier 3 (where stricter measures are needed): HE providers should increase the level of online learning to retain face-to-face provision for priority courses (for example, clinical and medical courses), and in as limited a number of situations as possible. Students should follow government guidance published as part of any additional restrictions applied locally, including where this says that students should remain in their current accommodation and not return their family home or other residential accommodation to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through travel. In these circumstances, providers should support students to do so by keeping services for students, such as university libraries and catering facilities, open

Tier 4 (last resort): We expect the majority of provision to be online, with buildings open for essential workers only. This should include the continuation of essential research

We will keep our community updated as we receive more information from the UK Government.
It would appear that we haven't been told what tier we are in and so what we're supposed to do (or not as the case may be...).

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by mediocrity511 » Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:09 pm

FlammableFlower wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:00 pm
So anyone got a clue what's happening? The country is now at COVID Alert Level 4, but what does that mean for uni's? Whilst my institution just put up this:
As you will be aware, the UK Government is changing its alert level from three to four across the UK.

Earlier in the summer, we had tried to set out an indication of what changing alert levels would mean for our operations, acknowledging that we would have to be agile and respond to evolving government advice.

Since then, the Government issued specific advice for Higher Education earlier this month on reopening buildings and campuses which sets out tiers of operation for HE providers.

These are:

Tier 1 (default position): HE providers are expected to provide blended learning, with face-to-face tuition, following the provisions of this guidance, and public health guidance, including, for example, the appropriate use of face coverings

Tier 2 (fallback position): HE providers should move to an increased level of online learning where possible. Providers should prioritise the continuation of face-to-face provision based on their own risk assessment. We expect that, in the majority of cases, this will be for those courses where it is most beneficial (for example, clinical or practical learning and research)

Tier 3 (where stricter measures are needed): HE providers should increase the level of online learning to retain face-to-face provision for priority courses (for example, clinical and medical courses), and in as limited a number of situations as possible. Students should follow government guidance published as part of any additional restrictions applied locally, including where this says that students should remain in their current accommodation and not return their family home or other residential accommodation to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through travel. In these circumstances, providers should support students to do so by keeping services for students, such as university libraries and catering facilities, open

Tier 4 (last resort): We expect the majority of provision to be online, with buildings open for essential workers only. This should include the continuation of essential research

We will keep our community updated as we receive more information from the UK Government.
It would appear that we haven't been told what tier we are in and so what we're supposed to do (or not as the case may be...).
Well that's the thing, tiers seem to be an entirely distinct thing from covid alert levels. Schools have tier levels as well, with one of the first restrictions being moving secondaries to a 2 week on, 2 week off rota. This hasn't happened so far, even in local lockdown areas.

Maybe tiers will be like the Nando's covid alert and will lie dormant, ready to pop up when the government feel like it.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:52 pm

I think you are quite right. It'll be ignored (they really want unis to start) until they can't ignore it any longer...

Talking to the staff in our campus shop - they sold an absolute tonne of booze last night and then observed the students consuming it outside... but very very not socially distanced, not rule of 6...

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bob sterman
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:57 pm

mediocrity511 wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:09 pm
Maybe tiers will be like the Nando's covid alert and will lie dormant, ready to pop up when the government feel like it.
I think the Tears working like this...

Tears 1: Gentle sobbing - University expects us to provide both high quality online teaching AND high quality frequent face-to-face teaching on campus

Tears 2: Noticeable blubbing - University expects us to provide both high quality online teaching AND high quality frequent face-to-face teaching on campus even though COVID-19 risk is high.

Tears 3: Anguished bawling - University expects us to provide high quality online teaching even though we're stuck at home with the kids busting in our Zoom sessions because the schools have shut.

Tears 4: All Cried out - University has gone bust.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:24 pm

FlammableFlower wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:52 pm
I think you are quite right. It'll be ignored (they really want unis to start) until they can't ignore it any longer...

Talking to the staff in our campus shop - they sold an absolute tonne of booze last night and then observed the students consuming it outside... but very very not socially distanced, not rule of 6...
Who could possibly have predicted such a thing?! ;)
Born at 356.32 ppm CO2 #ShowYourStripes

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bob sterman
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:27 pm

FlammableFlower wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 3:52 pm
I think you are quite right. It'll be ignored (they really want unis to start) until they can't ignore it any longer...

Talking to the staff in our campus shop - they sold an absolute tonne of booze last night and then observed the students consuming it outside... but very very not socially distanced, not rule of 6...
Rule of 6 in effect at our place - 6 cans each (min).

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:32 am

Riiiight... am I missing something? How many unis aren't having reduced capacity? Mine is on to have only one fifth capacity on any day, with rooms that normally seat 80 only having a max of 20 people.

Admittedly, we've already been getting emails from second years saying they are having to self-isolate having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for covid. What they didn't say, but one of my colleagues found out, is that they were at a house party...

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by snoozeofreason » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:41 am

FlammableFlower wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:32 am
Riiiight... am I missing something? How many unis aren't having reduced capacity? Mine is on to have only one fifth capacity on any day, with rooms that normally seat 80 only having a max of 20 people.
I don't think the article is talking about how many students should come in for a given class. The author want two thirds of students to be learning online from home. So not coming into residence at their university town at all, and not participating in any on-campus teaching.

It sounds like a sensible idea, but the suggestion comes a little late. Most students have already moved in.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:54 am

snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:41 am
FlammableFlower wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:32 am
Riiiight... am I missing something? How many unis aren't having reduced capacity? Mine is on to have only one fifth capacity on any day, with rooms that normally seat 80 only having a max of 20 people.
I don't think the article is talking about how many students should come in for a given class. The author want two thirds of students to be learning online from home. So not coming into residence at their university town at all, and not participating in any on-campus teaching.

It sounds like a sensible idea, but the suggestion comes a little late. Most students have already moved in.
Hmmm. That seems to be the lighter end of the argument coupled to Simon Jenkins' "why can't everyone be at home and learn online?"

That's alright for some subjects (possibly, just possibly) but try doing that with practical science labs. We'd be having to run very intense lab classes three times a year, during which time they'd not be able to engage with the lectures and even then I don't think we'd actually be able to fit them in - our labs are 100% occupied in "normal" times with the big lab taking 60-70. With a max occupation for COVID of 30 we've had to reduce labs to half days and have a massive change in our assessment of non-lab units to allow the labs to spill over into that assessment period so they can get enough experience.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:05 am

It's quite normal for postgraduate courses to be "intensive", full-time affairs for a week or two. Almost every course for my masters and during my PhD have been done like that, in various places in Europe and also Brazil. So learning lab skills obviously can be done in that format, and many excellent universities choose that model outside of pandemic times, though I know teaching undergrads is a bit different.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by snoozeofreason » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:17 am

FlammableFlower wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:54 am
snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:41 am
FlammableFlower wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:32 am
Riiiight... am I missing something? How many unis aren't having reduced capacity? Mine is on to have only one fifth capacity on any day, with rooms that normally seat 80 only having a max of 20 people.
I don't think the article is talking about how many students should come in for a given class. The author want two thirds of students to be learning online from home. So not coming into residence at their university town at all, and not participating in any on-campus teaching.

It sounds like a sensible idea, but the suggestion comes a little late. Most students have already moved in.
Hmmm. That seems to be the lighter end of the argument coupled to Simon Jenkins' "why can't everyone be at home and learn online?"

That's alright for some subjects (possibly, just possibly) but try doing that with practical science labs. We'd be having to run very intense lab classes three times a year, during which time they'd not be able to engage with the lectures and even then I don't think we'd actually be able to fit them in - our labs are 100% occupied in "normal" times with the big lab taking 60-70. With a max occupation for COVID of 30 we've had to reduce labs to half days and have a massive change in our assessment of non-lab units to allow the labs to spill over into that assessment period so they can get enough experience.
Yes, it's very subject-specific. In my own subject, going fully online would make life massively easier.

Our practical classes nearly always require students to work at computer screens, and interactions with between tutors and students tend to be along the lines of "Look at line 17, is there anything you can say about the syntax of the code you have written?" Those sorts of interactions can easily be done online via screen-sharing and annotation. They are an absolute pain to do in person, because you aren't allowed to sit next to the student and point at their physical screen in the way that we would have done pre-Covid.

Like most universities, mine is trying a "blended learning" approach, with some online teaching and some "Face to Face" (on-campus) teaching. In my subject, that results in an inefficient use of staff, and a poor learning experience for students. The absolute worst case, which I have tried to avoid wherever I have the power to do so, is classes where a tutor has to deal with both online students and "Face to Face" students at the same time. The result is that everyone gets the worst of both worlds. The online students get a sub-standard Zoom meeting, conducted by a tutor in a face mask and visor, who keeps looking away from the camera to deal with the on-campus students. The on-campus students still have to share screens with the tutor, so they probably feel as if they are having a Zoom meeting with someone who is in the same room as them.

The sensible thing would be for students to come in to residence at uni if they are doing a course that genuinely requires physical presence, and to stay at home if they didn't. If we did that then we might get the 2/3 reduction in university residence that the author is suggesting.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:25 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:05 am
It's quite normal for postgraduate courses to be "intensive", full-time affairs for a week or two. Almost every course for my masters and during my PhD have been done like that, in various places in Europe and also Brazil. So learning lab skills obviously can be done in that format, and many excellent universities choose that model outside of pandemic times, though I know teaching undergrads is a bit different.
We need to fit in 160 hours in first year, 210 hours in second year, 80 hours in third year and that doesn't include their final year project.

Under non-socially distanced conditions, with bigger labs, yes we probably could do that. It'd be insane and we'd effectively be running 3 concurrent courses. Course A would have labs, then lectures. Course B would be lectures, labs, lectures. Course C would be lectures then labs.

But with the social distancing requirements... not a chance.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by FlammableFlower » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:27 am

snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:17 am
FlammableFlower wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:54 am
snoozeofreason wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 10:41 am

I don't think the article is talking about how many students should come in for a given class. The author want two thirds of students to be learning online from home. So not coming into residence at their university town at all, and not participating in any on-campus teaching.

It sounds like a sensible idea, but the suggestion comes a little late. Most students have already moved in.
Hmmm. That seems to be the lighter end of the argument coupled to Simon Jenkins' "why can't everyone be at home and learn online?"

That's alright for some subjects (possibly, just possibly) but try doing that with practical science labs. We'd be having to run very intense lab classes three times a year, during which time they'd not be able to engage with the lectures and even then I don't think we'd actually be able to fit them in - our labs are 100% occupied in "normal" times with the big lab taking 60-70. With a max occupation for COVID of 30 we've had to reduce labs to half days and have a massive change in our assessment of non-lab units to allow the labs to spill over into that assessment period so they can get enough experience.
Yes, it's very subject-specific. In my own subject, going fully online would make life massively easier.

Our practical classes nearly always require students to work at computer screens, and interactions with between tutors and students tend to be along the lines of "Look at line 17, is there anything you can say about the syntax of the code you have written?" Those sorts of interactions can easily be done online via screen-sharing and annotation. They are an absolute pain to do in person, because you aren't allowed to sit next to the student and point at their physical screen in the way that we would have done pre-Covid.

Like most universities, mine is trying a "blended learning" approach, with some online teaching and some "Face to Face" (on-campus) teaching. In my subject, that results in an inefficient use of staff, and a poor learning experience for students. The absolute worst case, which I have tried to avoid wherever I have the power to do so, is classes where a tutor has to deal with both online students and "Face to Face" students at the same time. The result is that everyone gets the worst of both worlds. The online students get a sub-standard Zoom meeting, conducted by a tutor in a face mask and visor, who keeps looking away from the camera to deal with the on-campus students. The on-campus students still have to share screens with the tutor, so they probably feel as if they are having a Zoom meeting with someone who is in the same room as them.

The sensible thing would be for students to come in to residence at uni if they are doing a course that genuinely requires physical presence, and to stay at home if they didn't. If we did that then we might get the 2/3 reduction in university residence that the author is suggesting.
My institution has very few non-STEM/practical subjects.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:51 pm

Back on August 30th Carl Heneghan (Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine) appeared on BBC Radio 5...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000m6gd

...and made the following strong claims, that he said were based on data.
- It's never been safer for students come back to universities.
- It's not right now a big issue.
- Right now, the disease is at a very low level.
- Anxiety [about going back to work in universities] is not well placed.
- Right now [COVID-19] is of low impact, a weak disease, that is not causing the same problems as it caused in March & April.
At that point we were already seeing about 1000 new cases per day, but only about 40-50 patients admitted to hospital per day, with only 50 patients in ICU on ventilators at the time. But everything was trending upwards.

25 days later as university terms are starting - we're up to nearly 7000 new cases per day, 300-400 patients admitted to hospital per day, and well over 200 on ventilators.

"Never been safer" Carl? Really?

Sorry if I seem like I have an axe to grind on the Heneghan front - but that comment he made about it being a "low impact, a weak disease" really grated on me at the time. A "weak disease"??????

I made mental note of when it was broadcast as I knew it was going to come back and bite him in the proverbial.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by shpalman » Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:13 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:51 pm
Back on August 30th Carl Heneghan (Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine) appeared on BBC Radio 5...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000m6gd

...and made the following strong claims, that he said were based on data.
- It's never been safer for students come back to universities.
... sure it was safe for students to go back to university then, term hadn't started, there was nobody there.

I'm currently going to Milan three times a week to teach a master's course which is tiny at the best of times but now even with six students officially signed up for it (the deadline for finalizing their options isn't until October so I should have a seventh student by then) there was one in the room and two watching online and I suppose the rest will just watch the recording.

But yesterday we had the degree ceremonies (for the three-year* degrees) - how it works here is that the students give a ten minute presentation of a two-week project which they normally do in a lab** but of course this year it was all done by distance so they all did some theory/data-processing, then the commission decides how many marks to give them for it*** and therefore what the final mark of their degree is (out of 110) and whether it's Cum Laude and then the marks are read out and the official proclamation makes everyone engineers.

The session back in spring obviously just didn't happen since covid happened before anything could reasonably be planned, so everyone just became engineers without any ceremony. However, this time it was decided to do it in presence, apart from anyone with a reasonable reason to do it remotely, using the same system as had been set up for lectures. Since I've already been lecturing, I was the President of my commission (there were a whole load of small commissions in the morning and in the afternoon to spread things out a bit) which meant not only did I have to organize all the technological stuff but also all the administrative stuff and give the proclamation and wear a stupid**** gown and everything.

There were rules limiting how many guests each student could bring and how many people could be in each lecture room, and celebrations and photography weren't allowed, so of course celebrations and photography happened just outside with big throngs of people anyway.

Maybe they will have learnt their lesson and will avoid a repeat performance for the master's degrees next week.

* - well it depends on how long it takes for them to get exam results they are satisfied with, I've had students finally graduate years after having done their third-year project.
** - mechanical engineers are more likely to do a longer sort of work-experience thing.
*** - in physics we basically give everyone almost the maximum available, making sure it rounds up anyway, unless they're really terrible, in which case we might ensure it doesn't round up.
**** - well if you know me at all you'll know I love dressing up like that, but I did have to go to Milan to get a gown on a day when I wouldn't otherwise have gone. In February it was decided that the entire commission, not just the president, would have to wear a gown but a week or two later we were told to stop going to get gowns because they had run out and then anyway covid. And then this time it we were also told that everyone needed a gown but then later the same day it was pointed out that not everybody had them and there still weren't enough.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Sciolus » Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:58 pm

I don't know why people keep banging on about students going home over Christmas. No-one's going anywhere over Christmas. The first week of December, everyone will be panic-buying petrol, and after that it will be rationed for the foreseeable future.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by bob sterman » Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:04 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:58 pm
I don't know why people keep banging on about students going home over Christmas. No-one's going anywhere over Christmas. The first week of December, everyone will be panic-buying petrol, and after that it will be rationed for the foreseeable future.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . a reason to order a home COVID-19 test.

On the 12th day of Christmas the result might finally arrive.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by jdc » Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:08 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:58 pm
I don't know why people keep banging on about students going home over Christmas. No-one's going anywhere over Christmas. The first week of December, everyone will be panic-buying petrol, and after that it will be rationed for the foreseeable future.
We won't need petrol in December, travel will be banned.

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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:18 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:04 pm
Sciolus wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:58 pm
I don't know why people keep banging on about students going home over Christmas. No-one's going anywhere over Christmas. The first week of December, everyone will be panic-buying petrol, and after that it will be rationed for the foreseeable future.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . a reason to order a home COVID-19 test.

On the 12th day of Christmas the result might finally arrive.
Cramming migratory wild animals (turtle doves, geese, swans) and other wildlife (calling birds, a partridge), livestock (hens, dairy cattle), agricultural workers (milkmaids) and assorted members of the public (drummers, lords, ladies, pipers, drummers) together inside the average dwelling is exactly the kind of feckless irresponsibility vis-a-vis biosecurity that created the conditions behind this pandemic in the first place, and frankly Christmas or no Christmas (which, according to The Express, is incredibly likely any year now) there's just no f.cking excuse for it.

That gold's probably a conflict mineral as well.
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Re: Impact on Universities

Post by shpalman » Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:28 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:18 pm
bob sterman wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:04 pm
Sciolus wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:58 pm
I don't know why people keep banging on about students going home over Christmas. No-one's going anywhere over Christmas. The first week of December, everyone will be panic-buying petrol, and after that it will be rationed for the foreseeable future.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . a reason to order a home COVID-19 test.

On the 12th day of Christmas the result might finally arrive.
Cramming migratory wild animals (turtle doves, geese, swans...
... students...
molto tricky

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