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

Dear Students,

Please read this message carefully. It contains important information about new steps to protect you and to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 amongst our community.

Last week we shared information about a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in our University community. Our data has shown a continued rise in cases but, according to Public Health England, there is no evidence of wider community transmission. What happens next is within our control.

Our region has relatively low levels of COVID-19 compared to the rest of the country. By working together now to control the spread of infection we can hope to experience fewer restrictions than other areas over the coming months and to have a greater chance of getting back to a more normal experience this term.

Therefore, we have agreed with Public Health England, Devon County Council and Exeter City Council that now is the time to ask students living in Exeter to take significant 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.

This is an exceptionally challenging time, but we know that our collective actions at this point will determine what will happen in the coming days and weeks. I want to thank you all for upholding our values of collaboration and community, and for your commitment to each other, to the University and to our friends and neighbours in the city.

What we need you to do

For the next 14 days, beginning today, Monday 28 September, we are asking students who live in Exeter not to meet indoors with anyone who is not part of your household.

We are asking you to do this to protect each other from the further spread of infection between students, and to prevent transmission to the wider community. We will keep this measure under regular review.

The only exceptions to this should be:

  • When you are attending educational sessions on campus
  • You are working or volunteering
  • You are taking part in an organised sporting session  
  • If you are required to support a vulnerable member of the community
  • In the case of an emergency where you and others are in danger

The data 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.

What does this mean at other times?

This does not mean that you cannot go out or visit the shops, but you should not socialise in other people’s residences, and outside your current household you must observe the Rule of Six and all other social distancing measures at all times.

You must do everything possible to avoid putting yourself into contact with someone who may have COVID-19. This will protect you and your household. It is imperative that we are all vigilant about wearing face-coverings where required, regularly washing our hands, and maintaining safe space and social distancing from others.

If you live in catered halls and are unclear who is in your household, please contact the Residence Life Helpdesk at residencelifesupport@exeter.ac.uk.

Rapid Response Hub

We are also working with Public Health England to expand support for the Rapid Response Hub, should we need to, through the introduction of additional mobile testing capacity in Exeter.

You should only contact the Hub to request a test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 which are:

  • A high temperature
  • New continuous cough or
  • A loss of taste/smell

If you have been identified as a close contact, you must self-isolate by law but you will not be given a test unless you develop symptoms.

NHS COVID-19 app

We are also asking all staff 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 you

I know this is an incredibly difficult time for all of you, and I would be grateful for any and all suggestions for things that we could provide to make this experience more bearable. I have asked the Student Support team to develop a set of digital entertainment and social opportunities for those of you living in University accommodation and we will work hard to deliver whatever is feasible to support you through this period. We will update you on this soon.

For students who are self-isolating or quarantining in self-catered halls, we will also be opening our online groceries service, should you need to order basic provisions to be delivered to your block. We will contact you directly with details of how to use this service.

Finally, I hope you will all continue to reach out for our support and wellbeing services whenever you need them. We have a huge range of services and information available on our COVID Wellbeing webpages and you should contact our Wellbeing Services team on 01392 724381 or at wellbeing@exeter.ac.uk if you need help or support.

We absolutely do not underestimate the challenge that these measures present. You are not alone and we are standing together as one University community as we work to protect those around us.

Have you been asked to self-isolate?

If you have been given an instruction to self-isolate by the Rapid Response Hub or NHS, this will be because you or someone you have had close contact with has tested positive, it is absolutely critical that you follow this instruction. Breaking a period of self-isolation is a criminal offence, punishable by large fines and this will also result in significant sanctions from the University that can include suspension and expulsion.

If someone in your household tests positive then you must self-isolate for 14 days, even if within this period you get a test which comes back negative.

We hope for the sake of our community that you will comply with this request. Those who do not, or who ignore any instructions regarding COVID safety, risk disciplinary action.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary