Virus Covid-19 is blowing everybody’s minds in many diferent ways, even at work-related. It is affecting greatly areas such as hostelry, accomodation, culture-related and also, Study Abroad programs.
The vast majority of programs worldwide have been cancelleded. This academic year, 2020-21 we won´t count with the precious value of having our students with us. Now it is time to reinvent ourselves and we can´t get off this opportunity.
Having said this, we have to consider two important things. 1st one is to hang in there until we count on a vaccine that brings normality to this situation. The 2nd one and not less important, is to guarantee health and hygiene conditions. Not only academic rigor is a must, now we have to include health at the universities for our students. We know that these are uncertain times because we depend on how the situation evolves with the virus. But also, the way the University of Granada Center of Modern Languages handle the return of students to classes, will be relevant to guarantee the future of our programs abroad.
First weeks of the Covid-19 crisis
The University of Granada, following the recommendations of the WHO and the Government of Spain, shared an operational protocol with its departments and the Modern Languages Center. This protocol included 5 different scenarios related to Covid-19. Fortunately, we did not have any cases of infection in any of the institutions before Spain declared the State of Alarm.
And so it was. As the students returned home to the United States, the Modern Languages Center faculty began to adapt their teaching materials. They received training to teach their courses from in-person to virtual. We are talking about educational platforms, application of new technologies and virtual tools.
Once the academic year was over, it was time to take evaluate the situation and make decisions. It was necessary to assess the different scenarios that could be given and adapt the circumstances to the new course. Both institutions are excellent advocates for the importance of studying abroad.
So, this is where we are now. The Center of Modern Languages continued teaching summer courses online. These courses meant more training and expertise to professors and IT staff towards this new concept of teaching. Let´s say that they became experts in teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language on-line. Besides the fact they were already experts in in-person education.
As a proof of what we are saying is the success of these summer courses. The Intensive Lanaguage Courses but mostly, the Master´s Deegree of Spanish Teachers from US and Canada. This coming week, the CLM also returns with the online courses.
Protocols for the new academic course
The priority in both institutions in terms of in-person classes this academic year with Covid-19 is health. It is for this reason that they have taken measures and adapted their policies. In the Center of Modern Languages, health measures follow the guidelines of the University of Granada according to the WHO recommendations. So when the face-to-face classes start in October there will be no more than 10 students per classroom in order to maintain safety distances. The use of masks will be mandatory for students and teachers, even the teachers will have to wear a face shields. Between classes, staff of services will disinfect the classrooms.
Also at the entrance of each classroom there will be a sanitizing hand dispenser to use at the beginning and end of the class. Common areas are signaled both to indicate where they can sit and, to enter and leave the building. Same thing with the library and the multimedia rooms for students and professors use. All departments of the University of Granada will follow this same protocol to ensure a safe return to class.
The University of Granada and the Modern Languages Center once again demonstrated its experience in managing health-related crises and risk management. It has also shown through their example, that the academic quality is at the same level than health care. There is no doubt that it is making invaluable efforts to maintain the prestige that supports them.
The academic adaptation and the care of the physical space due to the times we are living, is commendable. Their action protocols are rigorously studied to maintain the safety of students, professors and administrative staff. At Beststepsabroad, we trust that they will be able to hold out and get the machinery running again to welcome students abroad next year. We can’t guarantee that it will be in the Spring Quarter, hopefully!!!. But we have some confidence that the vaccine to fight the Covid-19 will allow to run the Summer Programs face-to-face.