By Quirin Schiermeier, Holly Else, Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, T.V. Padma, & Nisha Gaind
Autumn heralds the start of a new academic year in much of the world, but in 2020, the term comes with the disruption of the COVID-19 outbreak and a surge in infections in many regions.
Many universities have welcomed students and researchers back to campus — often for the first time since nations implemented stringent lockdowns in March. But the return to institutions comes with unprecedented safety and social-distancing measures, which hinder teaching and laboratory work. And despite these, outbreaks on campuses are becoming a major concern in countries worldwide.
Although some institutions are offering in-person teaching, remote instruction has become the norm in many places. And for those who had already returned to the lab and adapted their work procedures because of the pandemic, the return of teaching brings an increased burden as they try to balance safety with the needs of students. Maintaining research necessities such as animal lineages can also be a struggle under the control measures. “Even in labs that are open, research is restricted,” says Jamal Nasir, a human geneticist at the University of Northampton, UK, who is returning to his lab after six months away.
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