What will the next academic year be like at Catalan universities?
Government and higher education institutions plan for in-person and online lessons and new safety measures
With the pandemic abruptly disrupting the last few months of the 2019-2020 academic year and forcing all lessons online, many university students may be left wondering what their courses may look like come September.
How close to business as usual will this so-called post-lockdown "new normality" allow higher education institutions to go? Will classes stay online or will students be able to see their fellow classmates and professors in person?
Both, it seems. The Catalan government and public university system been looking into how the 2020-2020 academic year should pan out and have agreed on a framework that foresees putting in place a hybrid model of sorts: the first part of the year, at least, will have "limited" on-campus activity while the rest of the year could have more in-person lessons.
According to the head of universities Victoria Girona, however, the framework put together by the government and the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia (CIC), the Universities and Research Secretariat, the teaching vice-chancellors of Catalonia's twelve universities and the Agency for the Quality of the University System of Catalonia (AQU) is not meant to completely "transform in-person universities into online ones" either.
In any case, the approved framework states that all of a class' students must be able to partake in educational activities equally, with universities putting in place measures to make up for the digital divide between students, and that they will favor continuous assessments over depending solely on final exams for grades.
Before students sign up for classes, they will also be provided with educational plan outlines for all of them.
Procicat, the Catalan civil protection committee, has also approved a plan establishing the new measures that must be carried out when there are in-person activities that places great emphasis on safety distances between people in classrooms, labs, and other indoor areas as well as personal hygiene.
If interpersonal distances cannot be kept, face mask use will be obligatory among all students, while higher education institutions are also expected to encourage frequent hand washing as well as cleaning of facilities.