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COVID-19 update for staff and students – 29 November 2021

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Key points

  • From tomorrow, all staff and students must wear face-coverings when in shared spaces inside all University buildings, including all teaching rooms, laboratories and communal areas, unless exempt
  • Anyone who is a close contact of a suspected case of the new Omicron variant will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status
  • Everyone who enters the UK must take a PCR text within two days and self-isolate until they have a negative result

You will have seen that in the last few days the Government has announced that they will be introducing strengthened measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant. I know that this is a concerning time, and we are continuing to review our measures and to ensure we can work together to keep our community safe. Whilst case numbers at the University remain low, positive cases are relatively high in wider Devon and Cornwall.

This morning, further guidance was published for Higher Education, and we have reviewed this to establish what further measures are required.

The following are key changes that we all need to be aware of and abide by as we seek to maintain face-to-face teaching and normal life on our campuses for the remaining two weeks of term, and to ensure we can all return home as planned at the end of term.

Face-coverings

From tomorrow, all staff and students must wear face-coverings when in shared spaces inside all buildings, including all teaching rooms, laboratories and communal areas. It will be mandatory to wear a face-covering in all shops on or off our campuses and face coverings are also mandatory on public transport, including University minibuses.

The use of face-coverings is not currently mandated in hospitality outlets, in gyms or indoor sports sessions, or in residences. However, the use of face-coverings can be required by specific settings and you should follow local rules where these are in effect.

Please use your reusable face-covering where you can. Disposable face-coverings are available to collect from face-covering stations around our campuses and at the Heart reception in Penryn.  

Some members of our University community are exempt from wearing face coverings. The reason may not always be obvious however, whilst not being a requirement, these members can request exemption cards or badges to highlight their exemption. These are available from

  • University Main Reception, Streatham Campus
  • Info@St Luke’s
  • Cornwall: Glasney lodge for students, ESI reception for staff
  • Our campus Here2Help team (Exeter) and Marshalls (Cornwall)

Self-isolation

Anyone who has been in contact with someone who tests positive with a suspected case of the Omicron variant will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status. We will support you through any period of self-isolation, and you can find lots of information and guidance on our Self-isolation web pages.

Travel

The rules are also changing for international travellers, and everyone who enters the UK will be required to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and to self-isolate until they have a negative result. The rules for people arriving from Red List countries remain the same.

The guidance and support for international travellers is set out on our COVID-19 Travel pages.

As detailed on the website, requests for research fieldwork in Red List countries will need to be considered by the Research Restart panel.

Protecting each other

It is vitally important that we work together to protect each other and our wider community from the spread of COVID-19. We can all play our part in keeping each other safe by:

  • Following the latest guidance and observing important hygiene measures, including hand and respiratory hygiene
  • Continuing to LFD test regularly
  • If you develop any symptoms, take a PCR test and stay at home until your symptoms have gone, even if you test negative. Flu and other respiratory illnesses are also circulating at this time of year.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, let us know by filling in the COVID-19 results form (Exeter or Cornwall)
  • Engage with the vaccination programme, including getting your booster jab as soon as you are able to do so. Be aware that eligibility criteria for booster vaccines are also changing, so please ensure you are aware of these as they are updated.

Further updates

We will keep you up to date, via the Weekly Bulletin for colleagues and University Updates for students, and I will email you directly when there are significant changes in the guidance or rules. There are outstanding questions concerning activities relating to international travel, such as student field trips and placements. We will keep you updated on these and all other related matters via email, and you can find full details of everything we are doing on our COVID-19 web pages

Your wellbeing

Your wellbeing is our highest priority. Please remember that you can reach out for support at any time. Full details are available on our Student Wellbeing website and our Colleague Wellbeing website.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary