The country is not overflowing with good news, and neither education as a whole, nor the specific public university, are valued as they deserve, despite their enormous work.
News about the pandemic has taken over the largest number of pages in newspapers, a very high percentage of radio and television times, and of spaces on websites and social networks. During this period, the University has not been able to waste a minute advertising itself and has had to invest a large amount of resources to adapt to these times of pandemic in a very short time frame.
This is what the UVa has done, and more specifically, this Campus. From the first moment of this health crisis, we made our resources available to educational institutions and various associations that have also worked to provide a public service aimed at fighting Covid-19. We did so by making the digital printers available to our research groups and alumni-led companies for the manufacture of protective screen parts. This was in the worst times of the pandemic; And we also did it when, after months without normal activity, we prepared the reception for the EBAU students and their teaching staff, seeking to maintain maximum security conditions and designing a welcoming campaign to avoid the fears and uncertainties of the students and to reinforce them in their self-esteem at such an important moment in their lives. We were aware that the harsh circumstances experienced by teachers and high school students during a pandemic could weaken their performance. Since the beginning of the course, we have provided the required help to the schools, located in the spaces attached to the Santiago Hidalgo building, the former UVa Teaching School, and we have given the Campus agora for the conferences that the Andrés Laguna Association has recently requested, assuming our role as hosts, to discuss the lessons that this merciless pandemic has left us.
Safe presence and bimodal teaching with adequate resources
Since the beginning of last summer we have worked to be able to have a beginning of the course that would have the necessary sanitary guarantees. We have prepared our classrooms and common spaces, for a return to classrooms with a “safe presence”. At the time of writing this article we have completed the first month of classes without noticeable incidents. Until this Friday, October 23, we have only had 4 cases detected in students, who had contracted the virus outside our classrooms, compared to the dozens of cases registered in other provinces of Castilla y León. The UVa’s internal protocol has allowed the person in charge of the Covid coordination of each center, together with the Campus Covid Coordinator, to send daily information on the incidents detected simultaneously to UVa Prevention, Rectorate and General Secretariat, in Valladolid . This information is also sent daily to the Epidemiology service of the JCYL, in the same city. This allows urgent measures to be taken in the event of serious incidents, such as the confinement of all residents in the Alfonso VIII de la UVa Residence in Valladolid.
In all the cases that are detected, the students keep the corresponding quarantine together with their roommates and / or residence. Only in one of the 4 cases detected in Segovia, has there been a more direct contact with a teacher in a tutorial. This has led to this teacher staying at home in a preventive way, keeping quarantine, waiting for the results of the serological test.
It must be remembered that, from the beginning of the course, high-risk teachers are authorized to teach their classes online, outside the classroom.
Good response from the technological resources acquired
In the middle of March of this tragic 2020, our University had to adapt, from one day to the next, its face-to-face teaching model to online teaching, which also thwarted all face-to-face universities in our country. In the case of the University of Valladolid, the VIRTUVA Center and the Information and Communication Technologies Service (STIC) had to face those months of confinement and maximum alertness, developing training and updating processes for teachers and carrying out on the fly the technological adaptation of its Virtual Campus.
The UVa as a whole has so far invested 9 million euros to meet all preventive needs and the incorporation of technological resources. There is no guarantee that the Ministry of Universities can pay an amount that is close to the amount invested, however, the government team of the UVa has not limited, at any time, the investments that it has deemed necessary to make to face a course in which the quality of its training offer can be maintained, adapting to new circumstances.
In the case of the María Zambrano Campus, an innovative virtual map model, designed by the UVa and unique in Spain, has also been strictly applied, which has allowed that in all the classrooms of our university the maintenance of the distance from safety, with the reinforcement of the use of mask and hydroalcoholic gel at the entrance of all classrooms. The decline in the normal capacity of the classrooms has required additional coordination work for the management teams of the three Campus centers: Faculty of Social, Legal and Communication Sciences, Faculty of Education and School of Computer Engineering. Thanks to the collaboration of the management teams, all the teaching staff and the students, it has been possible to face this beginning of the year with that new academic normality, without relevant incidents.
Having been able to reach this situation more peaceful than we could predict, can be explained because since June we have been working without pause, organizing intensive equipment demonstrations, coordinated from VIRTUVA, STIC and Campus, by different providers , to select the most appropriate technologies. In July, purchase decisions were made, in August works were carried out to expand the classrooms, complete audio and video equipment that met the requirement was acquired and installed in the 42 classrooms and laboratories. of the highest quality and reasonable prices. Already in the month of September, a provisional signaling has been applied, after studying the flows of internal movements that will guarantee the security of the entire university community. This has made it possible to face a bimodal, face-to-face and online mixed teaching, which has maintained quality levels and has avoided the shortcomings detected during the pandemic period.
All this has allowed the UVa to maintain the quality of its offers and, as we will see in the following article, it has managed to exceed 2,300 students in this course. All thanks to the effort of an academic community that has demonstrated its level of commitment. In the next installment, we talk about the challenges that lie ahead so that Segovia can continue to feel proud of its Public University.
Vice-rector of the María Zambrano de la UVa Campus in Segovia.