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Chaos at King’s – Reopening Amidst Covid-19

Chaos at King's - Reopening Amidst Covid-19
Image courtesy Idanic via Wikimedia Commons

Roar writer Radha Raheja on the troubles faced by students as King’s administration struggles to tackle the ongoing issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Autumn 2020 is finally here. As lockdowns lift and the “new normal” looms upon us, it is also time for students around the world to head into the new academic year, starting this autumn semester.

So far, things around the world still look bleak. Governments and organisations introduce and then retract their decisions regarding academics in the pandemic, from the UK’s erratic handling of A-level results or the volatile re-opening plans of colleges in the United States.

Here at King’s, while we theoretically have a standard policy on “blended learning” for the new academic year, testimonies of students across departments paint a very different picture. It seems that each department plans to take on the autumn semester in a different way, but not all have been able to give students enough information on how exactly they will be doing so.

Paula*, a second-year student of Nursing, complains of unclear communication from King’s admin about what aspects of their course will continue to be held online in the new semester. Students were told that lab skills would be taught face-to-face, but that rhetoric has changed to “face-to-face teaching where possible”. The details of placements, which are crucial for these students, had still not been released amidst this influx of confusing information.

Students of the Dickson Poon School of Law say that information from their departments has been neither precise nor concrete. While emails have said the school is open to accommodating different needs and requirements, instruction on the same has seemed “red-tape”-esque. Hana*, a student of Mathematics, told us something similar – communication on behalf of her department has been minimal, and on asking for more information, students have merely been told to refer to the FAQs on the King’s website.

Some students have been lucky in terms of access to information. For instance, Alishia*, a student of Biomedical Engineering, has told Roar that her department has been clear on the matter of remote learning: all teaching will be teaching place online. Students of English Language and Linguistics, however, tell a different story. Administration has apparently pedalled back on their promise of “some components being taught offline”, and is now speaking of randomly allocating online or offline alternatives to students for the autumn semester. Final-year students of History have also been told that module changes will not be entertained this term.

Timetables, usually released in the last week of August, were pushed to the fourth week of September. Freshers expressed their growing concern about the deferral of this information, while final-year students conveyed frustration – but not surprise.

With a student population of over 30,0000 and hundreds of departments and degrees, the King’s experience is different for everyone. But for many, it has been a distressing one over the course of the pandemic, with falling student satisfaction scores indicating the same.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a virtual social for incoming residents at King’s Accommodations, attended mostly by first-year students eager to find flatmates and make friends. At one point, we talked about the struggles of coming to uni in the middle of a pandemic, including the onslaught of peculiar information and the looming threat of a seemingly endless self-isolation period for many. However, I noticed that nearly everyone had great things to say about their choice of degree and their hopes for making the most out of what the university has to offer this term. At the end of the day, the experience is worth it all for many.

Despite this, it is now, more than ever, that students should be able to expect timely support from the eminent institutions they are part of. As times remain uncertain, I hope that the King’s is able to progress in the way it provides for its students.

Linguistics student. Writer at Roar News

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