I am writing on behalf of the Foundation’s Leadership Team in the wake of the government’s decision first to move Birmingham into Tier 4 of the Covid-19 restriction areas, and then to announce a more rigorous lockdown as from tonight. When the November lockdown was announced, there was little new that we needed to say. This remains largely true now, but we felt it important to confirm this, and to indicate where arrangements will be slightly different. As an institution of Higher Education we continue our work as before. We had already made the decision to teach online this term, and it is good that we did so. We shall still review matters later in the term, although it looks unlikely that anything can change before the end of the Spring term.
For those on site, as before, similar living and eating arrangements remain in place. Lunches will begin again from next Monday (11th January), though will need to be takeaway only for the foreseeable future. Please book in if you want a lunch provided so that Jason and Justin can ensure that enough food is provided, and that food is not wasted. Chapel will be open for private prayer from Monday Jan 18th. On and off-site we encourage everyone, wherever you are, to go on thinking carefully about all aspects of your life. Get fresh air when you can and have some real social contact even if you can only meet one other person in public. Keep your online activity reasonable in scale. Don’t get ‘Zoomed Out’! And if you do need a bit of extra support on any front, beyond your normal networks and contacts, do remember to talk to your personal tutor or to the chaplain.
We are all having to accept that things have gone on longer than we anticipated, and the new Coronavirus variant does appear to be particularly contagious. So we shall all need to take special care. January and February can often prove a low point in the (academic) year, partly brought on by the long nights and the cold (here in the UK, at any rate). That’s where the Church year can be a useful corrective (we’ve not long begun the year). Add to that the fact that the shortest day of the year (Dec 21st) has passed too, and we’re on a roll - things look up! Well, at least remind yourself of this in the midst of whatever frustrations you might feel about this latest lockdown.
I trust that whatever you’re in the middle of studying at the moment, that it can still prove spiritually as well as intellectually refreshing and challenging. We’ve had discussions recently about where the focus of our work as an institution lies: is it formation, or is it education? Thankfully, it’s not a question we can answer easily, as it’s inevitably both.
I hope the term begins well for you, wherever you are.