One year on from lockdown
Join us for a minute’s silence at midday today
The people we have lost, those who have been and remain ill, the lockdowns, the missed connections, the absence of hugs and affection we all took for granted have tested us all. The home schooling, home caring, furlough, the absence of live music and performance, the arts, sport, eating out, meeting friends, the economy… these represent so many impacts. Now the hope that testing, vaccination and the ‘roadmap’ have brought must still to be tempered with the need to remain cautious in the coming months.
The past year has seen an extraordinary response from everyone as we moved to remote learning and teaching. Our changed circumstances have challenged us in ways we never imagined. University should be a profoundly social experience and I feel huge sadness for the sacrifices I know you have all had to make.
I am, however, immensely proud of all our students at the University – as well as our staff – for the way you responded, and of all you have achieved. In the early weeks we saw the magnificent contribution so many made to support our wider community: students and staff volunteering their help, raising money for the NHS and other causes; the distribution of our PPE to the NHS, the manufacture of face masks, hand sanitizer, soda lime for ventilators; colleagues seconded to the NHS; our health and social care students staying in practice; food donated to the local charities. The list could go on.
In times to come when we reflect on the past year, your collective achievements will seem all the more amazing, and again I offer you my most heartfelt and sincerest thanks.
The government ‘road map’ out of lockdown sets out a journey that must be underpinned by the public health data and requires us all to keep to the sensible public health measures – ‘hands, face, space’. The vaccine is a triumph – not only of university scientific research but also collaboration with industry. The amazing NHS and volunteers who have rolled the vaccination programme out so rapidly are transforming the lives on a daily basis.
As we now see more students and staff returning to campus it is hopefully a time to start reconnecting in person where we can, to reflect on the past year, share experiences and take our learning to inform how we work and learn in the future. Your feedback via the Brighton Student Union, Course Reps, and Check-in surveys has shaped our action throughout this period. Your voices will be at the heart of informing our future. We must look forward to the post-pandemic world with a confidence based on what we have achieved over the past year in such extraordinary and often painful circumstances.
The UK will be holding a minute’s silence at midday today as part of a day of reflection on the year we have lived through. I warmly encourage you to join the nation in taking part.
Best wishes, stay safe, stay well
Professor Debra Humphris