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Important information: Further measures to combat spread of COVID-19

Dear Colleagues,

Last week we shared information about a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in our University community. Our testing and tracing has shown a continued rise in cases but, according to Public Health England, there is no evidence of wider community transmission. We have agreed with Public Health England that now is the time to ask students living in Exeter to take additional measures to stop the spread of infection. This is necessary for us all to avoid further local restrictions, of the type already seen in a number of other universities.

The data we have from our Rapid Response Hub has not shown any transmission through our education activity, and it is clear that currently the main cause of COVID-19 transmission is through students meeting up in multiple households. The steps outlined below are intended to reduce further such transmission. Because there is no evidence of transmission in teaching spaces, we continue to be at Tier 2 (Department for Education guidance) and in-person teaching will continue. This is currently at low intensity as we are still in the staggered start period.

As an additional measure, for the next 14 days we are asking our Exeter-based students not to meet indoors with anyone who is not part of their household.

The only exceptions to this should be:

  • When attending educational sessions or for research degree study on campus
  • Working or volunteering
  • Participating in an organised sporting session
  • If they are required to support a vulnerable member of the community
  • In the case of an emergency where they and others are at risk of harm

Today we have contacted all our students to ask them to observe this new measure, to stress the critical imperative to be vigilant about COVID-safety and social distancing from others, and to remind them that breaking an instruction to self-isolate, if they or someone they have had contact with has tested positive, is a criminal offence, punishable by large fines and also resulting in significant sanctions from the University that can include suspension and expulsion.

Rapid Response Hub and NHS COVID-19 app

We are also working with Public Health England to expand support for the Rapid Response Hub, should we need to, through the introduction of an additional mobile testing facility on our Streatham Campus.

We are also asking all colleagues and students to download and begin to use the NHS COVID-19 App, which is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from COVID-19 and which allows contact tracing across all locations. We are installing the NHS COVID-19 App QR Codes across our campuses this week.

During this transition please use the University QR Code log-ins, or via

Supporting students

We are also working on a range of additional support and digital entertainment and social opportunities for affected students and will be opening our online groceries service for those who are quarantining, should they need to order basic provisions to be delivered to their block. We continue to encourage all students to reach out for support and wellbeing services whenever they may be needed.

The vast majority of our students have been exemplary in following the guidelines, adapting to the new situation we all find ourselves in and, in doing so, demonstrating the highest standards of respect and consideration for each other, for the University and for our friends and neighbours in the city.

We are taking these proactive steps now to try to limit any further spread of COVID-19. Our collective actions at this point are crucial in determining what will happen in the coming days and weeks, and what happens next is within our control.

Please note, the message that has been sent to Exeter students informing them of this change will be available soon for your reference on the Communications section of the COVID website shortly.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary