Vet School meets the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic

Published on

A vet holds a dog in one hand and a cat in another

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, across the University there's been a significant change to the way that departments and Schools work, with staff and students having to quickly adapt to a new way of working and learning. Professor Susan Dawson, Dean of the Institute of Veterinary Science talks about the response of the University of Liverpool Vet School.

As with everyone else our world has changed dramatically during the COVID pandemic. As Dean I am so proud and grateful to all our staff and students for their enormous efforts during this time. We have moved our teaching online during lockdown and where possible are working from home. We had 48 hours’ notice to get teaching for the whole of the BVSc programme online and everyone has done a fantastic job. Our students have been patient and professional in their attitude to the changes although also obviously very concerned. For some of our students their home situation has also had significant impacts from the pandemic and we have opened the hardship funds for applications where we can give a quick response and some help with immediate financial needs. Working with Vet Schools Council and RCVS a suspension of the regulations for EMS have meant our fantastic final years, the class of 2020, will be able to gain their degree and register with RCVS. As I write this they will be sitting their final exams online this week so a huge dose of good luck to our fantastic students in all five years.

Of course it is not just our final years who have had to make changes - all the students are currently having their teaching virtually and all our meetings and administration is being done from home. I think the backdrop to my life at the moment is “your microphone is on mute”. 

We rightly have focussed the way we do things with human health at the forefront but we obviously need to take into account animal welfare. We have continued to run the hospitals, practices and farms under RCVS guidance. The different ways of working have not made life easy for our staff but working as a team, even if often virtually, has meant we have kept our services going. Initially this was for emergency and urgent cases but we are now starting to see other cases which cannot be put off for a long period. So it is far from business as usual in some of the clinical areas but everyone is doing a fantastic job.

As lockdown starts to get eased our big challenge is to get everything up and running as best we can and make sure that our students can come back in the autumn for their practical teaching. We have rejigged timetables to do everything that we can online but need to get students back into practices and onto farms. After the announcement on 11th May we are able to open up our research laboratories and the Leahurst campus will start to welcome more staff back over the next few weeks. 

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

Susan Dawson