More than 1,000 students return to UC each week

The students, together with teachers, get to carry out fundamental practical activities to close the second semester. Thanks to the safeguards and the commitment of the UC community, the activities have been developed successfully, without outbreaks of COVID-19.

As a factory at full throttle, Professor Francisco Chateau describes the environment of the Lo Contador campus’ Model and Prototype Laboratory closing semester in a regular year. “Noise, dust, screaming, people going in and out. It’s nice ”, recalls the teacher. But very different from what has been experienced in recent weeks with the return of students to this place, which can normally receive up to 50 male and female students at the same time, and which currently does not exceed 15, thus allowing the social distancing necessary to comply with the protocol for COVID-19.

With more or less difficulties, both the teacher and his students are happy to be able to work in this space again. “It has been very positive to be here, and it was very necessary as well. We have had activities and corrections working in the workshop. Distance classes are one thing, but it is very different when you have corrections in person, you advance much more ”, comments Fabián Torres, who is working on his Architecture degree project and research for his master’s thesis.

“From the point of view of the teaching and workshop experience, a very difficult moment to sustain over time was coming, because after several months with remote work, the experimental part of the workshop was already necessary. If we had spent more time without seeing each other, the ability of students to do things would have diminished, ”says Chateau.

The experience of the Laboratory of Models and Prototypes of Lo Contador can be extended to other careers and experiences that have been developed in the Santiago campuses in the last six weeks, each with its peculiarities and differences. Currently the only campus that has not resumed any face-to-face activity is the Villarrica headquarters, but actions are already being taken to resume some activities, as the commune advances in the steps of deconfinement.

Thanks to the observance of the protocols and the responsibility shown by the members of the UC community, about 1,400 students have been able to visit the campuses every week without detecting COVID-19 infections.

Another career that has benefited from the possibility of partially returning is Kinesiology, located on the San Joaquín campus. About 40 teachers go every three weeks to the Health Sciences building, rotating with careers in Speech Therapy and Nutrition and Dietetics . There they carry out practical activities with their students in laboratories, classrooms and common spaces.

According to Javiera Fuentes , career director, the return to face-to-face classes was fundamental:  “We know how necessary it is to develop practical and clinical skills in the training of kinesiologists. It is a constant concern of the faculty that students can practice and develop skills that are very difficult to do online.

Being a “90% practical” school, as the director says, they have sought different ways to innovate in teaching, such as teaching their students to do practical exercises with family members or people from the same home, with homemade phantoms, or even with themselves. They also took advantage of the technology, installing transmission systems in laboratories to be able to give live practical demonstrations to those who follow the courses from their homes, while a group attends in person.

But in the practical courses, the face-to-face activities are especially important: “It was noticeable that the students wanted to come back and practice, in our career the procedural is important: taking your patient, moving him, working with each other”, explains the assistant professor of the Musculo-Skeletal Kinesiotherapy course, Mauricio Delgado .

“Every time we enter the campus we have had to fill out the screening form, take our temperature, go through turnstiles, which is something new when entering. Unlike previous semesters, we cannot share microscopes and tools without first disinfecting them. Considering that, the experience has been very good, I am very happy to be able to return to the laboratories because it is something very useful to accompany the chair ”, comments Alonso González, third-year Chemistry and Pharmacy student, upon leaving one of the laboratories from the Faculty of Biological Sciences, at Casa Central.

The observance of the protocols and security measures by the students is an aspect that the teachers highlighted cross-sectionally.

Alejandra Bendel, director of the Art career and teacher of the Watercolor course, commented that at least in the Oriente campus “without a doubt, the students have maintained a great responsibility (…) they are very aware of the care that must be taken inside of a workshop ”. This has allowed the format to be perpetuated, and to continue with activities that were necessary to close workshops and courses.

“I recognize the great work that the teachers have done to be able to program themselves in the pending activities of the first semester, added to the activities of the second semester, and also our students and the effort they are making,” said the director.

For Gonzalo Pizarro , who directs the Academic Office of Teaching of the Academic Vice-Rectory, the opening of the campuses has allowed the different academic units to carry out practical activities necessary to achieve the learning objectives proposed in the courses.

“These activities had been pending during the quarantine period and the different academic units reorganized the courses in order to take advantage of the quarantine time with theoretical activities and postponed the practices until the end. Now that the campuses are open, this has been done. The units have been very responsible in this reorganization and also in the way they are carrying out the activities, complying with the sanitary provisions that the university has implemented ”, he commented.

During the next weeks, the face-to-face activities will continue to be developed with careful safety and hygiene measures. This also includes welcoming activities for UC rookies and rookies, which are planned until the end of January. Meanwhile, the partial return scenario for the first semester of 2021 strongly depends on the evolution of sanitary conditions, so protocols for this period have not yet been announced.