The current situation in the world with coronavirus is worrying for everybody. With new announcements being made around the clock and situations shifting all the time, it can be difficult to know what you could and should be doing, as well as what help there is available to you.
If you are a student there is a strong possibility that you are living away from your family and this can cause more uncertainty. Are universities staying open? Should you go back ‘home’? Should you be self-isolating? What help is there out there for students? These are all viable questions and ones that many other people will have.
Here is a guide to what coronavirus might mean for students, helping you to understand where you stand, what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and, importantly, reminding you that you’re not alone – we’ll get through this together.
Should I be self-isolating?
The current advice is that we shouldn’t be leaving our homes unless we really need to be – in other words, to buy food, get medication, do some exercise, or go to work if you can’t do it from home. This also applies to study. Schools are now ‘closed’, and you should avoid going out unless you absolutely need to. If you are living with your friends, you don’t need to isolate yourself from them, just try to follow social distancing rules when you can.
It can help to make your home as nice and as stress-free a place to be. You can help to create a relaxing atmosphere by having a deep clean, decorating with candles and fairy lights, being kind to each other, getting some food in, doing activities that you all enjoy – even at a safe distance, you can still have a drink, play music, or do a quiz, for example.
What about my studies?
It is probably the case that your university has ceased having communal classes for now. They should have been in touch with you to outline their plans in terms of your studies – of course, different courses will have different requirements, but you will likely be able to carry out certain aspects, if not all, remotely.
Although many people will be working remotely, that doesn’t mean that your university will be ‘closed for business’. You should still be able to get hold of teachers and other resources, without the face-to-face contact.
If your classes are now online, you’ll have to keep your studies up. As student utility bills provider Gilde say, put your phone away and have some fun with your work. ‘Create an acronym of words to help you remember what you’re studying,’ or ‘grab a lucky housemate and create your own class.’
Remember that we are all in the same boat and so you shouldn’t be unfairly penalised for this.
Speaking to your university
It is important to bear in mind that your university will almost certainly have a higher amount of traffic in terms of queries and emails. Many of them will have a helpline available to their students, and you should try to follow their procedures as much as you can.
You should also try to be patient as inevitably any form of communication at the moment is likely to take longer.
Should I go home?
The current advice is that we shouldn’t carry out any unnecessary travel. Many halls of residence are keeping shops and other facilities open for those who can’t or don’t want to travel. But if you are planning on travelling back home or taking public transport, be mindful of the potential risks to you and others and try to reduce these as much as possible by traveling at less busy times.
If your housemates are staying in their homes during lockdown, then this is a great time to start some Netflix marathons and cooking sessions in between your study hours.
How long will it last?
The truth is that we don’t know how long these measures are going to carry on for, or how or when they will be lifted. You can be sure, however, that universities are planning for all eventualities – such as the prospect of not opening again before September and working out how to grade and assess students without examinations, for example.
One thing that we are likely to see after all of this has passed is a change in the way that we all work. It might be that the internet is used more for courses, or that you are able to study more remotely, for example.
This can be a worrying time for everybody and you should be aware that universities are putting plans in place to ensure that you get the best and fairest education under difficult circumstances and that the welfare of their students is also put in the forefront. They might not have all the details sorted out yet, but keeping in communication with your university is the best way to look after yourself and excel at your studies.