England lockdown
Heading back to England for university? You may want to rethink your plans after this latest lockdown announcement. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reimposed a national lockdown in England beginning Jan. 4, 2021, until February 15 at least, in response to the spread of a more transmissible COVID-19 variant. This latest England lockdown sees the country moving to alert level 5, which signals that the National Health Service is close to maximum capacity. As in previous lockdowns, this means schools, colleges, and universities will be closed. 

At the same time, the government advises that certain students may return for face-to-face learning particularly those who are undertaking training for allied health, education, and social work courses. Those facing Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments or mandatory activity in January may also proceed. Other university students especially those returning from their Christmas break are advised to postpone their return to campus and continue studying remotely for now. 

England lockdown

“The problem is that schools may act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.” Source: Jessica Taylor/AFP

England lockdown: How to continue studying

“Primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers,” Johnson said in a national address. He also pledged to increase remote learning support for students, stressing “The problem is not that schools are unsafe for children; children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of COVID. The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

So if you live off-campus, you should avoid going to university until the latest England lockdown is lifted. Make the best of the virtual infrastructure for now; you can still hold study groups and discussions online, and follow lectures from home. Students who are eligible for in-person teaching should meet in small groups when necessary, following heath guidelines including wearing a mask and social distancing. Outside of school, students should also follow lockdown rules and avoid social interactions as much as possible.

Johnson’s government hopes to vaccinate every citizen in the top four priority groups by mid-February, which includes senior citizens, healthcare workers, and vulnerable individuals. Then other groups will get their turn, including international students.