Review (Julie Phillips) – Responding to COVID-19: LUNEX University’s decisions and actions to continue physiotherapy education

Abstract: 6th line: maybe it would be better to say “In this report, we focus on three…” instead of “Here we focus….”

Introduction: First line: COVID-19 has initiated…..approaches in practical/clinical higher education programs instead of higher education practical/clinical programs?

Suggestion for inclusion in the background paragraph (paragraph outlining LUNEX University): It would give the reader better insight if the authors could indicate when clinical training starts in the programme? How many bachelor students? Do M students also do practical/clinical training?

The university or department should be commended for getting everything ready within a two-week period in what was quite a challenging and stressful time.

Challenge 1: Response to country-wide and global shutdown: clear description provided and easy to follow. These are very useful guidelines for other programs all over the world to follow too.

Challenge 2: Return to campus: Authors stated that teaching spaces needed to be converted for practical sessions. ??? Maybe elaborate on this? It would be interesting to highlight some of the restrictions imposed on both staff and students living outside of Luxembourg and how it was managed by the institution.

Challenge 3: What type of guidance was given with regards to return back to respective homes? Was this guidance given by the institution generally or the physiotherapy programme staff specifically?

Successes: maybe it would be useful for the reader if the authors could provide a clearer description of what is compared. Till when is the winter 2019 semester for example and when did summer 2020 semester start? That will give a clearer understanding of how the shutdown impacted on these semesters.

The areas of consideration are very interesting and it seems to be the same all over. Even in less developed countries, students faced the same kind of challenges with engagement.

The recommendations provided by the authors are very practical and valuable. The suggestion of a flipped classroom, self-study and only using face to face classes for practice and practical skills is a very valuable one that can be incorporated in many places worldwide.

One thought on “Review (Julie Phillips) – Responding to COVID-19: LUNEX University’s decisions and actions to continue physiotherapy education

  1. Abstract: 6th line: maybe it would be better to say “In this report, we focus on three…” instead of “Here we focus….”

    • Thank you for the positive comments and insights to help with the manuscript development. The abstract has been revised as follows: ‘We have focussed on three…’ (p.2, line 7)

    Introduction: First line: COVID-19 has initiated…..approaches in practical/clinical higher education programs instead of higher education practical/clinical programs?

    • This line has been amended as suggested (p.3 line 3)

    Suggestion for inclusion in the background paragraph (paragraph outlining LUNEX University): It would give the reader better insight if the authors could indicate when clinical training starts in the programme? How many bachelor students? Do M students also do practical/clinical training?

    • We have added this information within this paragraph:
    ‘Clinical training begins with placements in the fifth semester of the bachelor programme. Students complete 950 hours of clinical placement in the bachelor programme and an additional 650 hours in the masters programme. At the time of the shutdown, lectures for about 350 students over five bachelor cohorts and two master cohorts were disrupted.’
    (p.4, lines 9-12)

    The university or department should be commended for getting everything ready within a two-week period in what was quite a challenging and stressful time.

    • Thank you.

    Challenge 1: Response to country-wide and global shutdown: clear description provided and easy to follow. These are very useful guidelines for other programs all over the world to follow too.

    • Thank you.

    Challenge 2: Return to campus: Authors stated that teaching spaces needed to be converted for practical sessions. ??? Maybe elaborate on this? It would be interesting to highlight some of the restrictions imposed on both staff and students living outside of Luxembourg and how it was managed by the institution.

    • We have added some further detail to this section to explain how the practical spaces were converted: ‘This involved removing desks and chairs, and replacing them with plinths in these spaces.’ (p.6, lines 22-23).

    We have also included some examples of the restrictions faced and how these were managed by the institution:
    ‘Staff and students were issued certificates as evidence for the need to travel across borders, to ensure that they were not penalised/fined if checked by border control. Some of the border crossings had long delays due to the documentation checking, and in these cases, staff may have continued to work from home until their presence was specifically required on site.’ (p.7, lines 1-5)

    Challenge 3: What type of guidance was given with regards to return back to respective homes? Was this guidance given by the institution generally or the physiotherapy programme staff specifically?

    • We have included further text to clarify the support provided to the students:
    ‘Guidance and facilitation of transport alternatives for students who were experiencing trouble in finding transportation means to return home when the placements were suspended was also provided by LUNEX staff. This scenario increased students’ anxiety levels due to both health concerns and uncertainty regarding their ability to complete a required element of their degree program, and the clinical placements staff provided emotional support to the students during this time.’ (p.7, lines 14-19)

    Successes: maybe it would be useful for the reader if the authors could provide a clearer description of what is compared. Till when is the winter 2019 semester for example and when did summer 2020 semester start? That will give a clearer understanding of how the shutdown impacted on these semesters.

    • Thank you, we have added the following sentence for clarity (p.4, lines 5-6):
    ‘April marks the beginning of the summer semester, and October the winter semester.’

    The areas of consideration are very interesting and it seems to be the same all over. Even in less developed countries, students faced the same kind of challenges with engagement.

    • Thank you.

    The recommendations provided by the authors are very practical and valuable. The suggestion of a flipped classroom, self-study and only using face to face classes for practice and practical skills is a very valuable one that can be incorporated in many places worldwide.

    • We appreciate your positive comments.

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