Using our Sports Hall at Medway as a Covid-Safe science lab


To enable students to continue learning safely, we adapted our Sports Hall into a socially-distanced science laboratory to deliver lab classes.

Indoor sport hall with tables arranged to form a laboratory

Despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic and our move to blended and online learning, we have been working hard across the university on creative solutions to continue teaching in this new environment and, in this case, to ensure students continued to have access to lab time.

While we're not currently on campus, when we are able to return this will continue to be an important teaching lab providing additional capacity for lab practical work particularly to meet the needs of our final year students.

Our staff at Medway worked tirelessly to transform the Sports Hall, usually full of organised sport and activities, into a socially-distanced science lab, so that we could safely provide a nearly normal practical offer to our first and second year science students.  The practical lab classes at the Sports Hall were delivered to smaller class sizes throughout the week, with students taught in weekly bubbles to minimise mixing. Every student was issued with their own lab coat, safety glasses, marker pen, and a drawstring bag to keep their own items stored away in their locker.

The Sports Hall was split into four zones with a teaching demonstrator per zone to assist students, and staff used a microphone to teach the class in the large space. A strict two-metre social distance and one-way system operated, with students working at their own allocated workstation wearing masks and full PPE.

The work of the School of Science staff in delivering these learning adaptations enabled students to learn key laboratory skills and complete the necessary practical elements of their courses, while continuing to provide outstanding student experience during a challenging year.

I personally have been so very proud of how all of our academic, technical, demonstrator, and support staff have worked tirelessly, together, to provide this opportunity for students. This has been matched equally by the dedication and fantastic attitude of our students who have adapted remarkably to our Covid-Safe activities both on campus and those online.

Dr Abigail Rickard, Associate Professor and Head of Biology

Students praised the efforts of their demonstrators and support staff in making the lessons interactive and engaging, despite the change from the traditional on-campus learning.

I have been a little apprehensive about distanced classes, but I ended up enjoying the lesson more than I thought I could and learning very effectively. You have really risen up to the working/learning from home challenge; this is the gold standard of online teaching!

Raphaelle Boulas, 3rd Year Biomedical student

Close up of five people wearing lab coats, masks and safety glasses inside indoor sports hall laboratory