Manchester’s two main universities have confirmed that all in-person teaching will now move online as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases soar at the institutions.
It’s believed that the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University are set to inform staff and students of the move this afternoon after a decision by the city’s public health department, alongside Public Health England.
The institutions are to move teaching entirely online from tomorrow (Wednesday) until at least 30th October.
The council has said that courses at the two universities will be taught virtually, with the exception of “accredited and professional programmes, for on-campus laboratory, clinical and practice-based teaching”.
The move represents an escalation in the approach to rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on campus and among students.
It comes as public health officials look to contain a host of outbreaks.
It is understood that the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) at the universities is still overwhelmingly related to accommodation facilities and not campus, but the move is being taken in an effort to limit those who may have the virus from travelling around and spreading it further.
It comes after Manchester Metropolitan University had been the first of the two institutions to see high profile outbreaks a couple of weeks ago, which lead to students in the Birley and Cambridge halls of residence being told to self-isolate.
Hundreds more staff and student cases have been confirmed since then.
In a footprint used as part of the government’s community-level mapping of the virus, Fallowfield Central – a popular area of student residence – was showing the highest case numbers of any neighbourhood in the country yesterday.
It racked up 558 new cases in the week up to 1st October.
David Regan – Director of Public Health at Manchester City Council – said: “This is the right thing to do and supports our approach using data and a local approach to contain outbreaks so that we reduce the possibility of further infection.
“More online teaching will protect staff, students and the wider community, which is what we want and need.
“As people will no doubt know from the news our current Covid figures are high – and in particular the rate of infection in the last seven days for our 17-21 year-old category is almost six times higher than in the rest of the community.
“Today’s announcement, plus following all our local restrictions means that we have a consistent approach.”