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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff and students - 27 November 2020

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Key points

  • Two new COVID-19 testing centres will open on our Streatham and Penryn campuses on 30 November, to provide testing forstudents who wish to travel away from the University for the winter break
  • Appointments are now available to be booked
  • Tests are voluntary and before booking a test you must understand what you will need to do once you receive either a positive or negative result
  • The government-supported student travel window is from 3-9 December and any students who remain at University after that period risk not being able to travel
  • Students wishing to travel internationally should request a HALO test. Details of how to do this are below
  • Staff who need to travel internationally may also request a HALO test
  • Our winter break webpage has full details
  • From 2 December, England will return to a system of tiered restrictions. Cornwall will be in Tier 1, Devon will be in Tier 2
  • Please remember to think carefully about your own wellbeing and that of those around you. Our Wellbeing pages have lots of useful tips and resources

Full message

Today I am setting out the new arrangements we have put in place for COVID-19 testing for students, as part of government’s plan for the end of term.

We have created two new test centres for students, one on our Streatham campus and one on our Penryn campus. Tests will be available to any students who do not currently have symptoms of COVID-19 from 30 November.

REMEMBER: If at any time you experience even mild COVID-19 symptoms - a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell – you should immediately self-isolate and arrange a HALO test via the Rapid Response Hub.

For those with no symptoms we have implemented new systems to enable appointments to be booked 24/7 and throughout the weekend. Please be patient as we book people in over the coming days, and come back to the website if there is initial high demand. We have enough capacity to test all students and therefore any student who does not have COVID-19 symptoms but wants a test will now be able to get one.

Appointments are now available to be booked.

Before taking a test you must think carefully about the following important points.

  • You do not need to take a test in order to travel away from the University for the winter break. However, testing negative for COVID-19 means you can travel to be with loved ones with a reduced risk of passing COVID-19 to them.
  • The test involves a simple throat and nasal swab and gives results within 24 hours.
  • Those with particular concerns, for instance those planning to spend the winter break with people who are clinically vulnerable, will be supported to take two tests, three days apart, if they wish to.
  • Those who have previously tested positive during Term One should consider carefully whether they wish to be re-tested. It is possible that the test could pick up remnants from your earlier infection.
  • Any result will only give you an indication of your COVID-19 status at the moment you take the test. It is extremely important to continue to follow existing guidelines on hygiene and social distancing both before and after getting tested to avoid infection.
  • If your test result is negative and you wish to travel, you should aim to leave your term-time accommodation within 24 hours after your test, so long as this is within the designated ‘student travel window’ of 3-9 December. You should observe social distancing and safe travel guidance at all times.
  • If you plan to take only one test, you should book an appointment which will allow you to travel within 24 hours of a negative result and within the government travel window from 3 to 9 December.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be unable to travel and you will be required immediately to self-isolate for 10 days in your term-time accommodation. Your close contacts or members of your household will also have to self-isolate and may not travel until they get a negative test, or complete a full period of self-isolation.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 you must let the University know via the self-declaration form. We will contact you to discuss any support you may need throughout your period of self-isolation, after which you will be able to travel if you wish to do so.

Although the test is not mandatory, it is only by identifying and isolating positive COVID-19 cases that we can safeguard the health and wellbeing of our friends, loved ones and those around us.

Even if your results are negative, please do not drop your guard – results are only valid on the day the test is taken. Continue to follow the public health guidance on washing hands, wearing a face mask and keeping space between you and other people.

The student travel window – 3 to 9 December

The student travel window has been created by government to ensure that students who wish to can travel to spend the winter break away from the University. Anyone who remains at University after 9 December will run the risk of having to undertake a period of isolation of up to 14 days at the University if they were to contract coronavirus (COVID-19) or were identified as a contact of someone who had. Remaining at University after 9 December puts students at risk of not being able to travel in time for Christmas.

All but essential teaching will move online after 4 December and your timetables will be updated to reflect this.

Students undertaking placements

Students who are currently undertaking placements away from our campuses may request a test on our campuses in the normal way.  If you are not able to attend our testing sites in Exeter or Cornwall, please contact the Rapid Response Hub who may be able to make exceptional alternative arrangements.  If you are unsure about when your placement will end, please contact your Programme Director.

Postgraduate research students

Tests are available for all postgraduate research students. Postgraduate students may continue their independent research activities beyond 9 December, if these are necessary to ensure there are no delays to the completion of their postgraduate research qualification or implications for funding. We will be keeping our research facilities open to facilitate this and other ongoing research. However, where it is possible, research should be carried out at home.

International travel

Students who normally live overseas can travel at any point, but should be aware of restrictions which relate to their destination. We advise you to check the government’s ‘Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)’ guidance and also the guidance on ‘Entering the UK’. You may need to undertake a period of self-isolation when you arrive overseas, or when you return to the UK.

Students planning to travel to an international destination should note that some countries may require you to have obtained a negative COVID-19 test before you enter the country. Results from the ‘lateral flow devices’ provided by government for the mass testing programme are not sufficient as clearance for international travel.

If the country you are traveling to requires a test certificate you can book a HALO test by following the process below depending on whether you are a student based in Exeter or Cornwall:

  • Exeter based students: please complete the online form and be sure to select the option that says “Are you requesting a test for international Travel” and mark it with a “yes
  • Cornwall based students can book a test by contacting the Rapid Response team via: rapidresponse@fxplus.ac.uk  or tel. 01326 370402

You MUST not travel if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are in a household with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Testing for members of staff

The mass testing arrangements have been provided by government to allow us to test students to help those who wish to travel for the winter break to do so, and this is our priority at this time. We are exploring options for making tests available to members of staff and will share further details soon.

In the meantime members of staff who need to travel internationally may request a HALO test via the Rapid Response Hub. Please note, this is only available for members of staff and does not extend to family members.

We have some existing testing arrangements to support a number of research projects, and these will stay in place.

Visit our winter break website for full details

Full details of the testing process, travel considerations, the end of term process and the arrangement for those remaining at University over the winter break can be found on our winter break web pages.

Regional restrictions

Government have confirmed that when the national lockdown in England ends on 2 December, we will return to a system of tiered restrictions. Devon will be placed in Tier 2 (High) and Cornwall will be placed in Tier 1 (Medium). Summary details of the restrictions under the various Tiers can be found on the government website and I will share more details of what this means for us next week. Universities are designated as essential by government and so for those in higher tier areas it remains permitted to travel to and from University campuses for education and work purposes.

Each year a number of students stay on campus or in their term-time accommodation for the winter break. We will continue to support those who are with us this year and full details of the support and services available over the winter break will be shared soon.

I would like to thank those members of the University team who have supported the development of these new testing facilities. The work has been exceptional and has been undertaken under enormous time pressure, but always in the knowledge that it would offer crucial support to many students and their loved ones who wish to spend the winter break together. We may of course experience teething troubles over the next 2 weeks but I know that we will all pull together to support each other in the positive spirit that has characterised our community over this most challenging term.

Best wishes

Mike

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary