Covid – 19: Updates from Regency on March 25

Health and Safety, Reports — By on March 25, 2020 at 3:50 PM

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Covid – 19: Updates from Regency on March 25

In these unprecedented and worrying for the whole world times, I found it difficult to even start writing this update. In the last week it seemed every bit of news was bad news, with global Covid-19 infections climbing and countries going into lockdown.

But then the good news started trickling in: stock markets were feeling more optimistic, with yesterday’s announcement of $2tn stimulus to the US economy. NHS managing the situation in an orderly manner so far, preparing plenty of hospital beds, engaging quarter of a million volunteers, existing staff working tirelessly with retired colleagues and final year students to swell the ranks.

As you know, on Monday, Boris Johnson has announced a lockdown in the UK, following the results of a calculation conducted by Imperial College London. This showed that the curve of infections and critical cases will be too steep for the NHS to cope with efficiently unless people isolate themselves.
“Flatten the curve” is the slogan now, where the aim is to delay and reduce the peak of infections as much as possible and to stretch the period of virus infections.

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However, yesterday an Oxford group of researchers published their calculations, contradicting the Imperial College research. This Oxford study claims that the virus may have infected half of the UK population already. Many cases went undetected since January as not enough testing had been done. They imply that fewer than one in a thousand infected with Covid-19 will become ill enough to need treatment in hospital.

This new model is important because it reiterates the original controlled “herd immunity” theory that the UK government first adopted. In this theory, the spread of the disease would have been allowed to continue until people developed natural immunity to it. If the findings of this research are confirmed, the government might lift the current movement restrictions and the economy could start recovering sooner than anticipated. At this point though, it’s important to stress that the lockdown restrictions are still in place and that everyone in the UK should follow the official advice.
What is happening in the Education sector?

The changes in education have been incredibly fast. Several things I would like to highlight.
Schools and universities have moved exclusively to online education for the next few months. We will talk more about how the online education works in our next newsletter. There is a lot to talk about here, but one thing is clear – it seems to work very well! Please share your experiences of the new online approach with us. We are currently providing hundreds of online tutor lessons and the demand is ever growing!

GCSE and A-Level exams have been cancelled. Now this could be a good or a bad thing. It is not 100% clear how the grades will be awarded this year, but the government has left it to individual schools to decide how they will be assessing the final grades for their students. It could be that there will be some sort of additional assessments next term to determine where each student falls within their subject knowledge, but most will base their final grades on overall performance of each student through the course and the latest sets of test results, such as Mocks. More information is on the government portal here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced
University applications remain the same. The UK Minister for Education urged universities not to alter their offers to potential candidates as a small number of universities decided to change some of their conditional offers to unconditional after the A-Level exams were cancelled. Students who accept an unconditional offer will be able to release themselves as part of the UCAS self-release process to explore other options during Clearing. This process was introduced last year to support student choice and promote flexibility, and nearly 30,000 students used this functionality. More on the subject can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/universities-told-not-to-alter-applicants-offers

University students have had their end-of-year (end-of-course) exams cancelled – universities are now deciding on potential ways to re-schedule some of the finals.
Summer courses: Many of our clients have their summer courses booked in the UK. Unfortunately, it looks like all of them will be cancelled. In the best-case scenario there might be hope for the August courses to go ahead, but I would strongly recommend you don’t make plans based on this possibility at the moment. Summer schools will deal with the refunds and we are here to help.

Well, we all have to remember the things we can be grateful for – our families, warm homes, food in the fridge, Zoom, Skype and other online methods of continuing our communications, social life and education during these difficult times.

Stay positive – we will come out of this crisis stronger and (hopefully) better as a community!

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