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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for students - 05 January 2021

Dear Students,

Key points

  • England has entered a new period of national lockdown, which will last for at least seven weeks
  • A summary of what you can and cannot do is included at the end of this message
  • In line with Government restrictions, teaching must remain online until at least mid-February for all students, with the exception of a small number of exemptions, listed below
  • As per Government instructions, students who do not have any in-person teaching scheduled should not travel to the University or to term-time accommodation yet
  • Students who are already in Exeter or Penryn should remain in place and not travel away
  • We will be releasing January examination marks one week later than originally planned
  • In line with new restrictions, our sports facilities are now closed and the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union are switching to online-only. Other facilities remain open for those permitted to come to campuses
  • All students who are already in Exeter or Penryn should arrange to get two COVID-19 tests as a matter of urgency. Booking links are below
  • Additional financial support is available for those impacted by these measures
  • Our wellbeing support remains in place. Full details are on our COVID-19 Wellbeing web page
  • We must all abide by the new restrictions, and continue to observe the highest standards of COVID-19 hygiene
  • We will keep you updated on a regular basis, so please look out for these messages and read them carefully

Full message

I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year and to welcome you back to university life. I hope you are progressing well with your exams and are preparing for the resumption of teaching.

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that England will enter a new period of national lockdown from today. This period will last for at least seven weeks, and the measures will be reviewed in mid-February.

The full details of the new measures are available on the Government website and a summary of what you can and cannot do is provided at the end of this message.

This will be another worrying and challenging period for us all, and the University will do everything possible to support you. We worked together as one community last term to help each other and those around us. I am confident that we can do so again.

Teaching and assessment

The new measures announced by the Government mean that University teaching must remain online and in-person teaching will be delayed until at least mid-February for all students except for the exemptions listed below, which are for those studying ‘future critical worker’ courses and certain limited courses that require accreditation from a professional body (PSRB):

  • In the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
    • final year undergraduate students requiring access to specialist facilities for projects in order to meet PSRB requirements in Physics, Engineering, Geology and Camborne School of Mines (and then only for project work)
  • In the College of Medicine and Health
    • all undergraduate BMBS, Medical Imaging and Nursing students
  • In the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
    • all PGCE students undertaking Initial Teacher Training (currently on placements)

In-person teaching has either begun already for students on these courses, or will begin next week. All other students will study online and the Government’s advice is that you should not travel to the University or to term-time accommodation. Timetables will be updated this week to reflect these changes.

The Government are advising you not to travel to prevent further transmission of the virus across the country which would put us all at greater risk. By remaining where you are, you are helping to protect each other and to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

Students who are already at the University should remain in place and not travel away. We will shortly be sharing a survey to all students to identify those who are at the University and who may need additional support.
The Government have previously made it clear that students may return to university in order to access study spaces and support if they are:

  • International students who have remained in the UK, or those who have arrived and do not have alternative accommodation
  • Students without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their vacation accommodation
  • Students who have remained in their university accommodation over the winter break
  • Those requiring additional support, including those with mental health issues

The lockdown announcement will inevitably impact on the capacity of our academic colleagues to complete marking of assignments and exams – particularly if they have parental and other caring responsibilities. Therefore, we will be releasing marks one week later than previously scheduled for coursework due to be returned this week and in the week commencing 11th January. We will also be releasing January examination marks to students a week later than originally planned (the revised date is Thursday 18th February 2021). This is to ensure the continued high quality of feedback on your assessments while also ensuring the rigour of the marking process. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Postgraduate Research Students

We expect further guidance from Government concerning university research and other activity later today, and we have emphasised the need to allow critical research activity to continue. Our current understanding is that PGRs are to be considered as research staff and we will ensure that we will provide support in terms of access to on site spaces and resources.

Where possible, PGR students should work from home. We will be reviewing lab, field and office based research, in the light of the expected Government guidance. In the meantime, if you cannot work from home for any reason, you can continue at present to access campus office and study spaces – you should arrange to get tested prior to working on campus.

Campus activities and facilities

In line with new guidance, all sports facilities and services are now closed. Online fitness classes and virtual club activity will continue. Bookings can be made for free for the online classes here https://fixr.co/organiser/241194645 and further links can be found under ‘fitness classes’ on www.sport.exeter.ac.uk.

Due to the new restrictions, the Students' Guild and Students’ Union will be switching to online-only during this period. The fantastic Get Connected and Together Wherever pages are available and have lots of online activities for students.

Other campus services, including the Library and study spaces, careers support and wellbeing services will remain open for those who are permitted to come to campus. We will keep this provision under review over the coming weeks and ensure you are updated. Other services including Wellbeing support and the Career Zone can be accessed online.

Testing

Testing is critical to reduce the risk of introducing infection to our community following a period in which additional household mixing has been permitted. 

All students who are already in Exeter or Penryn should arrange to get two tests as a matter of urgency, regardless of whether they are taking part in any on-campus teaching or study. 

Tests can be booked via the links below and we will keep our testing facilities open for all students who are in Exeter or Penryn. Students who have not yet arrived but who will shortly be beginning in-person teaching or placements for future critical workers, or those who cannot work at home and plan to travel should book tests urgently to help us to assess the demand for testing in the coming weeks.

We are also providing tests for staff who are required to work on our campuses.

Tests for students and staff can be booked via the following links:

Additional hardship support

We know that some students may suffer an additional financial burden because of these measures. In partnership with the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union we have doubled the support available through the ‘Success for All’ Hardship Fund. If you are suffering additional financial burdens then please reach out for support and apply to the fund.

These are difficult times for all of us, with further restrictions placed on our lives and inevitable concerns about the continued spread of COVID-19 and the impact this is having on our loved ones and those around us. Please remember that we have a range of services and resources available to you if you feel you need additional wellbeing or mental health support. Many of these are collected in our COVID-19 Wellbeing web page.

There is a great deal that we can do as a University of Exeter community, even if many of us are apart. This begins by ensuring that we all strictly observe the new guidance, as well as continuing to practice important hygiene measures such as washing hands, covering faces and giving space to others. Please continue to look after yourselves and those around you wherever you are, and together we can play our part in keeping each other safe.

Best wishes

Mike

Mike Shore-Nye 
Registrar and Secretary

Summary: what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown from https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare - for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.