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Students are in the headlines this week, and their potential impact on the spread of COVID-19 is huge. They have been encouraged back to university and many are currently under forced quarantine. Lancaster University engineering student Will Moore has expressed some real life concerns about the pandemic and highlights a common student view on the return to university.
Will, a second-year university student feels that social distancing is having an impact on his friendships and social relationships, but is determined that by acting now he is actively preventing further lockdown in the future.
‘Social distancing from my friends is already having an impact on my social life, and it will continue to throughout the duration of the first term. Although it is hard it seems to work in flattening the curve of coronavirus cases, so it’s a sacrifice I can make.’
When asked about feelings of anxiety Will of Lancaster says he has not been affected and that the notion that everyone is experiencing the same thing gives him strength.
‘I’m not actually that anxious about it, I realise that at least the first term has the potential to be a horrible experience, but we are all in the same boat regarding that, which comforts me in some way.'
Students at universities have undoubtedly been thrown into the deep end. When asked what measures are being taken in a personal capacity, Will says that ‘to protect myself I am following the guidance, making sure to sanitise my hands, wear masks and social distance.’
The emotional rollercoaster of leaving home and travelling to university has been amplified by the changing government guidelines.
‘The government gave everyone the green light to return to university, which resulted in tens of thousands of people to move into different towns and cities. In Lancaster, students make-up for a vast proportion of the population. The government should not have acted surprised when the cases spike in these areas.’
‘University lockdowns may be necessary, but it’s the lack of foresight and ignorance on the part of the government which has resulted in this uncertainty for students’.
It is a common understanding amongst students that their personal actions will have a huge affect on the rate of transmission. Most students play their part by wearing masks, sanitising and cleaning hands – and of course social distancing. However, there is a growing concern that the strategy, or indeed lack of strategy on the part of the government for students returning to university has been a failure so far. Yes, lockdown for students is an inconvenience – but we understand it’s a necessity to break the chain of transmission for the coronavirus– but is there a better way to approach this with regard to strategies for education?