Marking the end of an exam season in lockdown

Optometry students will be marking the end of an exam season like no other this weekend, with a special celebration hosted by The University of Plymouth’s Optometry Society

animation of books and phones
The end of exam season is typically a time of celebration and social events for many students. However this year will be very different for students who have had to complete their academic year at home, with lectures and exams moved online.

The University of Plymouth Optometry Society (OpSoc) has organised a virtual celebration on 16th June, aiming to help students to keep connected during lockdown while also recognising the role of optometrists during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and raising awareness of local sight loss charities.

“We will be celebrating in a very unique, and hopefully memorable way,” explained second-year optometry student at the University of Plymouth and AOP student rep, Caroline Mansfield.

Reflecting on how the end of this exam season compares to previous years, she shared that previously, once exams had finished, she would visit the Plymouth Hoe with friends and take part in social events to mark the end of the year. She added that this year “obviously, there will be no celebrating in person. This is the best we can do in a tough situation.”

“The aim of the event is to give people something to do, where we would normally be celebrating with each other,” she added.

students zoom call
The University of Plymouth Optometry Society will be hosting a variety of virtual activities on 16 June to celebrate the end of exams for students, while also aiming to recognise the work of optometrists.

The celebration will be made up of several elements and will involve universities across the UK.

“We are all in this together,” Ms Mansfield added. “In a way, social media has enabled us to contact each other more readily.”

The date of the 6 June 2020 was originally chosen to reflect the American expression of ‘20/20 vision’ with the UK’s ‘6/6’, though the event was postponed to the 16 June.

The celebration will include a social media challenge and music video that all members of the optical sector are encouraged to participate in, as well as a competition for university OpSoc members across the UK.

Aiming to recognise the work of optometrists and raise awareness of local sight loss charities through social media, the event hosts are asking optometrists and students to share a photo of how they have chosen to celebrate ‘06/06/2020’, nominating others to do the same and naming local sight loss charities.

“When they post the picture, it will not only be seen by the optometrists they work with, but also by their friends and family, who will see the local sight loss charities that are near to them and hopefully those charities will be more supported in the future,” Ms Mansfield said.

The hosts are also encouraging optometrists and students to submit a clip of themselves dancing to a song that is currently popular on social media, which will then be compiled into a music video.

“It is a way for us to recognise keyworkers. We are hoping optometrists in practice will send videos, along with the students at home – and they’ll be seen alongside each other,” Ms Mansfield commented, adding: “I personally don’t think optometrists get enough recognition for the good work that they do. There is a lot of praise for other healthcare workers at the moment, and they deserve the praise, but there are optometrists in hospitals doing the same sorts of work. Hopefully this event will get a lot of people involved and raise their recognition.”

Reflecting on how students have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, Ms Mansfield said: “At Plymouth, our academic staff were really good at letting us know when they had updates and giving us concise and correct information.”

“The exams were a bit weird because I’ve never had open book examinations before; in fact I searched on Google to see the best way to do it,” Ms Mansfield commented, adding, “Ever since GCSEs it has been about what you can remember on the day, not ‘what do you understand’, or ‘what can you gather from this’. Having unlimited time was a really good thing for me though, as I often worry about the time aspect of exams.”

Calling it a “different” experience, she said: “It was dealt with well by the academic staff and a lot of people benefitted from the format of the exam.”

Offering encouragement for others to participate, Ms Mansfield said: “Getting involved in the celebrations is the best way all of our aims can be met, and also ensure that optometrists are recognised.”

More information about the event can be found on the dedicated Optoms Unite social media pages.