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COVID-19 update for students - 1 December 2021

Dear Students,

Key Points

  • This email has further details of how the updated COVID-19 guidance affects our University life
  • Please follow the guidance below. Doing so is our best way to protect each other from COVID-19
  • All staff and students must wear face-coverings when in shared spaces inside all buildings, including all teaching rooms, laboratories, meeting rooms, libraries, study spaces, marquees and communal areas, unless exempt
  • Face-coverings are available to collect from locations across our campuses
  • Anyone who has been in contact with a suspected case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone entering the UK must take a PCR test by the end of their second day after arrival, and self-isolate until they test negative
  • If your travel plans for the winter break are affected, you may be able to book an extended stay in your University accommodation
  • The vaccination programme is being expanded and we must all engage with this to build immunity ahead of the winter
  • If you have any concerns or need further details on the current guidelines and support available, please contact our Rapid Response Hub for advice, or our Wellbeing service for additional support

On Monday I wrote to you with an update on the changes to COVID-19 guidance as a result of the emergence of the Omicron variant. Now I am writing to give you more detail, as we have had time to digest the new guidance and to hear from you and to consider the points you have asked us to clarify. It’s a long message, but please read it fully as it contains important detail.

I’m sure you appreciate that, due to the nature of the COVID-19 virus, the rules and guidelines we must all abide by are likely to change frequently. As ever, I will continue to update you on how these changes impact the University as quickly as I can.

Thank you all for wearing face-coverings inside University buildings over recent days. Wearing face-coverings is important to slow the spread of COVID-19, and it is also a visible way for us to show and share our compassion and concern for one another. We wear face-coverings to protect those around us, and in doing so we support our community and keep each other safe.

Please follow the guidance set out below, and consider carefully the need for face-coverings and ventilation wherever you are. Abiding by these rules is our most effective way to protect each other and support our community.

Face-coverings

All staff and students must wear face-coverings when in shared spaces inside all buildings, including all teaching rooms, laboratories, meeting rooms, libraries, study spaces, marquees and communal areas.

These buildings do not include your student accommodation, but do include communal areas such as receptions, laundries, utility rooms and study spaces.  You will also be required to wear a face covering in sport centre reception areas, changing rooms and spectator areas.

The Government has further clarified the rules on other places where face-coverings need to be worn. A full list of places where it is required by law for you to wear a face-covering is available here.

These include but are not limited to:

  • shops and supermarkets
  • shopping centres
  • post offices, banks, building societies
  • pharmacies
  • takeaways without space for consumption of food or drink on premises
  • public transport, taxis and private hire vehicles,  including University minibuses.

The use of face-coverings can be required by specific settings both on and off campus and you must follow local rules where these are in effect. Where you see a sign asking you to wear a face-covering, please respect it. These measures are in place to keep members of our community safe.

Catering Outlets
You do not have to wear a face-covering when eating/drinking in a catering outlet.  Where food or drink is consumed only in part of the premises, you do not need to wear a face-covering in the area wholly or mainly used for eating or drinking.  In indoor settings where a face-covering is not required, the Government continues to expect that you wear a face-covering in crowded, enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.  For example, you should wear a face-covering when queuing to be served.

Individual offices / Single Bookable Rooms
You don’t need to wear a face-covering if you’re in an individual office but you must wear a face-covering if you are moving around your building or other campus buildings. Ventilation systems and cleaning should continue to be used as required.

Those using single bookable rooms must ensure that they occupy these spaces alone and that they use any cleaning and ventilation in place.

Shared offices
Occupants of shared office spaces are expected to wear face-coverings, unless a safe distance from other occupants. Ventilation and cleaning practices must be maintained at all times and a face-covering should be worn if moving around the office where a safe distance cannot be maintained.

Teaching academics
If colleagues who are teaching consider that their face-covering needs to be removed in order to aid communication in the room (e.g. for lip readers) or for clarity of recording, then the mask can be removed so long as the colleague is in the 2m teaching zone around the lectern.  

Teaching colleagues can ask students to wear a face-covering. If a student does not have one, they can be directed to the nearest pick-up point for a complementary face covering.  

Staff working behind screens
Those working behind service desks fitted with a transparent screen do not need to wear face-coverings. However they must wear a face-covering if working behind the screen with others where they are unable to maintain a safe distance. They can choose to wear a face-covering in addition to using the screen.

Students in third party or host premises
Please ensure you are aware of and follow the local policy. 

Outside
You do not have to wear a face-covering outside unless you are unable to socially distance or you wish to do so.  

Exemptions
Some members of our University community are exempt from wearing face-coverings. The reason may not always be obvious. Whilst not being a requirement, these members can request exemption cards or badges to highlight their exemption, and we should all strive to respect everyone’s privacy regarding exemptions. Those with an exemption who can tolerate a visor, can continue to wear a visor rather than no covering at all if that is effective for them.

Exemption cards, lanyards and badges available for colleagues and students who choose to use one and 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)

“Please give me space” cards and badges are also available at the above locations.

Working together

It is important for us all to help to ensure that members of our community who should be wearing face-coverings are doing so. On occasions where someone is not wearing a face-covering and there is no indication they have an exemption, we are therefore asking colleagues and students, appropriately and with empathy, to point out the need to wear one. Taking collective responsibility for the safety of our community will play a role in establishing the correct use of face-coverings as a social norm.

Types of Face-coverings

Please use your reusable face-covering where you can.

Cloth face-coverings and disposable face-coverings work best if they are made with multiple layers (at least 2) and form a good fit around the face. Face-coverings should be made of a material that you find comfortable and breathable, such as cotton.

If you forget or lose your face-covering, there are stations across the campuses for staff and students to collect a disposable covering if they need one. These are available in following locations:

Penryn campus:

  • Glasney Porter’s Lodge
  • Masters suite (for Masters students only)
  • Staff – ESI reception

Streatham campus:

  • Forum (Forum Street, entrance to Devonshire House, and Sanctuary / Blackwell’s foyer)
  • Building:One
  • Peter Chalk Centre
  • Old Library

St Luke’s campus:

  • X-Keys café
  • InfoPoint

Please remember to sanitise your hands, and the hand sanitiser station, before collecting your mask, and remember to queue in a safe and socially-distanced manner. 

Testing

To protect our University community before and during the winter break, please ensure you keep testing regularly, and particularly before coming onto campus, seeing friends or family, and going Christmas shopping.

Self-isolation

Anyone who has been in contact with someone who tests positive with a suspected case of the Omicron variant will be advised of their status by Test & Trace and will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

It remains vitally important to report any positive test result to the Rapid Response Hub www.exeter.ac.uk/coronavirus/rapid-response.

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. 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. You cannot use an NHS or University test for your PCR test, instead you must use a private test provider and must book before you travel. Guidance and support for international travellers is set out on our COVID-19 Travel pages.

The rules for people arriving from Red List countries remain the same.

It is recommended that all persons planning international trips (whether for business, education, research or personal) check the status of the country they are planning to travel to, as there continue to be changes to border entry and isolation requirements. www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Staying in your accommodation during the winter break

Exeter students

If you live in catered accommodation and would like to stay in Exeter during the winter break, or are impacted due to travel disruption, some self-catered accommodation will be available. There is a set contract period from Saturday 11 December to Sunday 9 January and locations will vary depending on availability. To enquire or to book, log an enquiry via SID online using the title - 'Accommodation required for winter break'.

Cornwall students

If you plan to remain in your halls over the winter break please let Glasney Lodge know by calling 01326 253503.  If you are living in catered halls, please be reminded that your catered package is term time only and will resume on Monday 10 January 2022.

Unexpected stays

If you live in University accommodation and you are required to self-isolate beyond the end of your contract due to a positive COVID-19 test, or because you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 and you are required to self-isolate, you will not be charged for the additional days.

Vaccinations

The UK government is promoting the uptake of vaccines ahead of the festive season, and expanding the provision of vaccinations, to ensure as many people as possible can boost their immunity this winter. Those eligible are encouraged to book their vaccines as soon as possible.

Be aware that eligibility criteria for booster vaccines is changing. Everyone over 18 years old will be eligible for a booster vaccination, and a second jab offered to children aged 12 to 15 year olds. Please wait until the NHS calls you forward for your vaccination.

The boosters will be offered in descending age groups, with priority given to older people and those most at risk. Because of the changing risk posed by the new variant, the period between the second jab and booster jab will also be reduced from six months to three months.

  • If it has been three or four months since your second jab, please wait to be contacted by the NHS before making an appointment or visiting a walk-in vaccination centre for your booster jab.
  • If it has been five months since your second jab, you are eligible to make an appointment for your booster. 
  • If it has been six months or more since your second jab, you can book an appointment or walk-in to a vaccination centre to receive your booster straight away.

We have two vaccination clinics being held on our campuses in December. Theses clinic will be providing first or second vaccination doses, as well as booster jabs. Please book online for the Penryn clinic.

  • Thursday 16 December, 10.30-5pm, Innovation Centre, Streatham Campus
  • Wednesday 8 December, 10am - 3pm, The Exchange, Penryn

More information on vaccinations can be found on our vaccinations website.

Further enquiries

If you have any concerns or need further details on the current guidelines and support available, please contact our Rapid Response Hub for advice.

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.

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 wishes

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary