Edge Hill University and its partners have pulled together in response to the COVID-19 crisis. By bringing together its world-leading knowledge, state-of-the-art equipment and community spirit, the University is continuing to innovate and improve lives during the pandemic.
Here we have highlighted the milestones in the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from its heroic staff and students, to offering symptoms and no symptoms testing facilities on campus, to launching a vaccine site, to volunteering to support our local communities and leading on research to increase our understanding of the virus and its impact.
Supporting our students
When students returned to campus in September 2020, Edge Hill ensured that all students were able to participate in regular small group teaching for at least one day per week, as well as face-to-face tutorials (including laboratory, studio and arts spaces access) and personal tutor meetings as part of a high-quality blended learning experience.
The University provided free IT kit to any student who needed it while studying remotely, including laptops, dongles and internet access, as well as rapidly replenishing its software to give students free remote access to specialise software to support their studies.
For students who were self-isolating, the University supplied free food and sanitary supplies whether they were in catered halls or not, as well as a dry-cleaning service. Edge Hill’s service was acknowledged by MPs in the House of Commons and was widely publicised by the media.
Rent waivers have also been implemented for on-campus accommodation if Government guidance relating to coronavirus means that a student is unable to occupy their accommodation at a cost to the University of c: £12 million.
The Wellbeing Team is offering students virtual and telephone appointments which can be booked online. Free gym access was also offered to all students while the campus was open during the autumn term.
We have also taken several practical steps to help students. These include the introduction of Time Limited Assessments (TLAs) or alternative forms of assessment wherever possible (and unless we are prevented from doing so by Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies).
The relaxation of the normal arrangements for approving deferrals. This means that, if any student is unable to sit or submit an assessment or perform to the best of their ability because of the impacts of COVID-19, you can notify the University and a deferral will be granted for the element of assessment impacted.
Supporting the wider community
Alongside the robust measures put in place to maintain a COVID-secure campus, Edge Hill launched its Community Pledge to encourage everyone to take personal responsibility and keep each other safe while on campus.
Vaccine site on campus
Edge Hill has teamed up with an Ormskirk pharmacy to support the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme. The University has quickly mobilised staff to convert space on campus at the Sports Centre into suitable vaccination pods ready to receive patients from Thursday 4th February.
The delivery of these vaccines offers us some light at the end of the tunnel that one day soon we will be able to come together again with family, friends and colleagues.
Testing facilities on campus
During the autumn term, Edge Hill launched two Covid-19 testing centres on campus.
The first walk-in Government testing facility open to the whole community in October 2020. Tests can be booked for those displaying symptoms on the Government website.
The second asymptomatic testing site (ATS) offering lateral flow tests, opened in November 2020 in time for students returning home for Christmas, as part of the Government’s plans to increase UK-wide mass testing. The ATS centre is open to Edge Hill staff and students only, who can book a no symptoms screening test online.
Donating PPE and equipment to the NHS frontline
In March 2020, the Government requested the loan of equipment worth tens of thousands of pounds from Edge Hill’s Biosciences department for use in COVID-19 testing. Among the equipment collected by the British Army were seven polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, which can amplify DNA to look for the presence of the virus before people get symptoms, and several –20c freezers to store samples.
Plant Sciences student David Gardner, who joined Edge Hill in September 2020, and his housemates has been printing a range of six different face shields for healthcare colleagues up and down the country, from the Scottish Highlands to Canterbury.
Staff and students on the NHS frontline
Alongside staff in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine, more than 750 nursing, midwifery, operating department practitioners (OPDs) and paramedic practice students volunteered to support the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and overcame their own personal fears and difficulties to work for the public good.
Honorary Professor of Edge Hill’s Medical School, Professor Nirmal Kumar, has been working on the NHS frontline throughout the pandemic. Prof Kumar, who is an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Clinical and Consultant Surgeon was one of the first clinicians in the world to report a new symptom found in patients suffering from long Covid.
School meal support for the community
As a University with a history steeped in social justice, Edge Hill has been a major supporter of footballer Marcus Rashford’s End Child Food Poverty movement by supplying local schools with free food parcels during the October and winter school breaks.
In the run up to Christmas 2020, Edge Hill University supported young people in care and vulnerable families by supplying food parcels to ensure no-one went hungry over the festive period.
Rather than limiting research activity, the coronavirus outbreak prompted some fascinating and timely news studies that influenced the way organisations and individuals responded to the pandemic.
The Grimsey Report COVID-19 supplement, which includes a contribution from retail expert Professor Kim Cassidy from Edge Hill’s Business School, suggested that the pandemic could potentially have a positive impact on the UK high street.
An international study led by child literacy expert Professor Lucy Bray, explored how children access and process information about COVID-19, revealing that they understand more about the virus than people think.
Covid-19 also put a spotlight on the life-saving work of respiratory nurses. A group of nurse researchers, including Dr Carol Kelly, launched a research project that aimed to document the positive and negative experiences that have emerged during the crisis to ensure that lessons are learned for the future.
Accommodation for key workers
During the first lockdown in April 2020, Edge Hill’s key workers in Facilities Management worked to keep the community safe and secure while students and staff followed Government advice and stayed at home.
The University offered accommodation to any NHS, police or key public sector worker who needed to self-isolate away from their family. The Facilities Management team were at the forefront of the University’s efforts to support the NHS and played a vital role to keep the campus safe, secure and clean, as well as setting up rooms for key workers and supporting them during their stay.
Helping businesses on the road to recovery
Over the last year, Edge Hill’s Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) has provided innovation, guidance and advisory services to more than 100 Lancashire SMEs to help address their growth and scale-up challenges.
The Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE) has been working with partners to help keep the creative economy moving, especially for young people.
Links to Learning
When the first national lockdown was announced in 2020, teachers faced the unprecedented challenge of quickly moving all of their teaching online.
To help, the Faculty of Education set up Links to Learning, a virtual learning hub that brings together the best online resources to support schools and families through the pandemic. It was made available to schools, families and communities to support them through the pandemic and beyond, with hundreds of partners making the most of the resources.
Students offer a helping hand to teachers
The faculty has developed 47 English lessons for secondary schools to pick from. The lessons have been created around curriculum texts as well as other unique literature and subjects with the aim of saving teachers time and giving pupils a change of pace.
The University’s Education Liaison team launched EHU@Home to help young people learn about the process for applying to University. Commended by the Office for Students (OfS) the virtual sessions are for students in Year 12/13 (Year 14 in NI) or 1st/2nd year of college and cover various subjects each month around the research and application process for University.