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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for students - 17 March 2021

Dear Students,

Key points

  • With more people using our campuses, it remains vital that we all follow the COVID-19 guidelines to keep each other safe
  • You can share your thoughts and ideas for the future by joining the first in our series of Big Conversations
  • It is our very strong expectation that everyone coming onto our campuses will book free twice-weekly tests. If you are coming to campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come
  • COVID-19 case numbers on our campuses remain low
    • A ‘travel window’ has been created to allow students to travel once during the Easter break. If you are travelling you should get tested before you leave (preferably twice) to protect the community you are going to, and again as soon as you return
    • Alcohol use has increased in the UK during lockdown, including amongst 18-34 year olds. Please act responsibly and be mindful of the impact that excessive drinking may have on the wider community. Our Wellbeing Teams can support you

Full message

Last week we welcomed back to our campuses a small number of additional students to resume limited on-campus teaching sessions. As the numbers of people coming to our campuses increases, it is vitally important that we all reaffirm our commitment to our community, and follow the COVID-19 guidelines to keep each other safe.

Currently these guidelines state that we can meet outside in our households, and can meet one other person outside, for example for a coffee. We must observe social distancing and COVID-19 hygiene measures such as regularly and thoroughly washing or sanitising hands, and wearing face-coverings when required. Despite the progress of the vaccination programme and the fall in national case numbers, the path ahead is not fixed. We can work towards reduced restrictions and more opportunities within the University by following the rules and keeping each other safe.

What does our future look like?
This week you will have received an email inviting you to take part in the first of our Big Conversation events, which will help us to shape the University’s future strategy. This is the first of three conversations and will be open until 29 March. So much has changed for us over the past 12 months, and we have learned a great deal together. Now is your change to share your ideas and suggestions for how we can take the next steps forward together. Find out more on the Strategy 2030 website.

Book your free twice weekly tests now

It is our very strong expectation that everyone who is undertaking in-person activities or using facilities on our campuses will book free twice-weekly tests. If you are coming to campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come.

Visit the student COVID-19 testing webpages for further information and booking forms.

We want to be able to offer more in-person teaching as well as a resumption of sports and society activity, when Government restrictions allow. To do this we need to demonstrate that we are all playing our part in keeping our community safe, by getting tested when required.

Our Students’ Guild are taking tests. Are you?

COVID-19 case numbers
The overall rate of positive results on our campuses remains low. The daily numbers of confirmed positive cases for students and staff can be found on our COVID-19 statistics web page. Data is available up to 14 March when the 7 day rolling daily average of positive cases was 0.4.

Remember to book study spaces, and check-in when you arrive
When using study spaces on campus, please remember to book in advance and to check-in when you arrive by scanning the space’s QR code on your phone, or by following the link on your booking confirmation. You can book your study space and find out more here.

It’s really important that you check-in, so that we can maintain a safe capacity in our study spaces, as well as letting us know if we need to open more spaces to meet demand. Your booked space will be reserved for 30 minutes after the start time of your reservation, so if you don’t check-in during this period, the space can be released for others to book.

Student travel during the Easter break

A ‘travel window’ has been created to allow students to travel away from university and back to their term-time accommodation once during their Easter break. This includes international students who are allowed to travel overseas in order to return home during this time. At the University of Exeter, the Easter break runs from Friday 26 March until Monday 26 April.

Although the travel window is in place, the Government strongly advises students to remain in their term-time accommodation wherever possible, especially those students who have returned to resume in-person teaching from 8 March, in order to minimise the transmission of COVID-19.

If you do choose to travel away from the University, you should get tested before you leave, so that you can protect the community you are moving to. Students travelling within the UK should book your test online and attend one of our test centres at:

  • Streatham Sports Hall
  • Cornwall House
  • Centre Spot Bar (Exeter City Football Club, St James Park)
  • St Luke’s Sports Hall
  • Penryn Sports Centre.

Opening times and booking links are available online.

Those travelling internationally will need to take a HALO PCR test – this is the only accepted test for international travel. You can book a HALO PCR test online, via the Rapid Response Hub. More information is available on our International Travel pages, including details of the documentation that international travellers must complete.

If you are living in University catered accommodation, your contract does not cover the Easter break. Later this week you will receive the ‘Move Out’ newsletter from Residential Services with information on how to book emergency accommodation should you not be able to travel during the Easter break.

If you do intend to travel over the Easter period, it is critical that you observe the Government’s guidance for transport and travel. Please also note that anyone who tests positive is legally required to self-isolate for 10 days and must not travel.

You are expected to book a test as soon as you return to the University, and should resume twice-weekly testing thereafter.

Staying over Easter

Students staying at the University over Easter should continue to get a COVID-19 test twice a week, every week, to protect those around us and to ensure that we can continue to offer in-person activities. If you are coming onto the campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come.

Your wellbeing

We realise that the current lockdown has been challenging for everyone in our communities since the start of the year. Research suggests that during this period around three in ten young adults report drinking at higher levels than before the COVID-19 lockdowns. As lockdown eases over the coming weeks, the temptation to party with friends will be even higher.

It is important that we recognise the risks that excessive drinking places on us as individuals and as members of the wider community. We should all continue to do everything we can to abide by the restrictions on social gatherings, which are designed to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to those around us, and we should also be aware that misadventures relating to the use of alcohol or drugs risk putting unnecessary additional pressure on NHS services at this crucial time.

Please know that if you are struggling with alcohol or drug issues, we are here for you and you will be supported by our Wellbeing Teams. We also work with community partners in both Devon and Cornwall if you would prefer independent support and advice. If you need help of any kind, please reach out.

Even as we approach the Easter break and the warmer spring weather, our circumstances continue to place our wellbeing under pressure. Whenever you need to you can find and access a wide range of wellbeing information, tools and support on our Student Wellbeing website, including advice on self-help and peer support resources at the University, support and advice for personal problems or emotional difficulties, links to mental health advice and support as well as useful resources and advice for managing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary