Message of reflection and hope from Dr Silvia Ramos

Dr Silvia Ramos at the University of Kent

Director of Undergraduate Studies for Physics, Dr Silvia Ramos, looks back on an eventful term and how it has shown the strong sense of community in the School.

Dear All,

The idea of the Physics Newsletter started following the meeting at Hever this past November and since then I had been looking forward to contributing to it. Little I expected to be writing my first contribution after the radical changes to our daily lives that we have undergone in the last couple of weeks. It is surprising how nature sometimes forces us to redefine “radical” and makes us feel little and fragile.

Until a month ago, I would have said that this year we had made very big changes to many things in the School: the changes to the calendar of coursework deadlines, the electronic submissions, the new communication channels between staff and students, the concerted effort towards having a more fluid communication and a closer community. And we had a few more prepared, such as the changes to the timetable for next year to enable a more rational work pattern or the review that the Physics curriculum is undergoing.

But then the coronavirus epidemic arrived and with approximately 32 hours warning we had to stop face-to-face teaching, move all our work away from our usual setting and start working in isolation. We also had to review how we looked after those who matter to us because they might belong to a group that is defined as at risk or are key workers and need to be outside doing important tasks to keep the rest of us going or because now that they are in isolation there is a risk of them feeling lonely…

For those of us with small children, we now have the added responsibility to ensure that their learning does not stop now that they cannot go to school. So my personal definition of what is radical change has moved to a different scale altogether and I would imagine I am not the only one (think many orders of magnitude type of change).

But with this has also come the realisation that our small SPS community is actually not fragile, but rather resilient.

Under these hard and imposed changes, both students and staff have reacted as a well integrated team does: we have kept the communication going (many thanks for the emails you have sent to us and please keep them coming!), the academics have continued delivering teaching and the students have continued learning, we have all adapted to situations as they arrived and remained vigilant to ensure things that could turn into a problem were not forgotten.

And it has all been done in a considerate and respectful way, which I know cannot be taken for granted when so many things remain uncertain. We are now heading towards the examinations term, when again I think we are going to be tested by the circumstances, but having seen how the last couple of weeks have gone, I am confident we will also make it work.

I hope you all find some time and way to relax over the Easter break, and that you go back to revision refreshed and revitalised. Please do keep in touch with the School and your fellow students, and stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Dr. Silvia Ramos