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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for students – 19 May 2021

Dear Students

Key points

  • The further easing of restrictions this week is welcome, but we must all remain cautious and act responsibly
  • Bookings are now open for the Festival of Discovery from 24 May to 4 June with COVID-19 safe events to suit everyone
  • If you are arranging to meet friends it is important that you do so safely and considerately, and be aware of the risks
  • Case numbers on our campuses remain very low
  • You can now pick up your free COVID-19 home test kit
  • Some key changes in our Research Restart approach come into effect this week
  • You can help us to help you by completing our wellbeing survey
  • With the Students’ Guild we have launched Exehale, a rest and recharge space for students on the Streatham Campus
  • Our wellbeing support is here whenever you need it

Full message

This week we have seen the further lifting of national restrictions, which is another important step along the roadmap to normality and a sign of the progress we have all made in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 within our communities.

It has been great to see more students able to return to in-person activities, and next week we have our Festival of Discovery, with hundreds of COVID-19 secure sessions for you to join. Details of the events and how to book your place are below.

We have also all been watching the news concerning new variants over the last week, and it is clear that COVID-19 still presents a significant risk to us all. In particular, the progress over the next few weeks will determine whether we are able to enjoy further easing of restrictions in June. So I urge everyone to act cautiously and responsibly and always remain within the guidelines.

Using our indoor spaces

Remember that the Rule of 6 applies indoors, including in our study spaces, and we must continue to use our indoor spaces in the COVID-19 secure way in which they have been set out, including respecting occupancy limits, opening windows and following one-way systems where they are in place. We must all observe the basic hygiene guidelines at all times. HANDS. FACE. SPACE. FRESH AIR.

Festival of Discovery

Bookings are now open for the Festival of Discovery.  The Festival will run from Monday 24 May – Friday 4June, with over 250 COVID-19 secure events across our campuses and more than 100 events available to join online.  The Festival will offer exciting academic and social events for students to attend including keynote speakers, sports activities, career support, society-led events, food stalls and entertainment, as well as offering the chance to reconnect with your friends and academic departments.

From coding workshops, Black History tours and Cornish taster sessions to mindfulness, Tai Chi and growing your own wild flowers, there’s something for everyone, including a Creative Dialogues event with writer and director Amma Asante MBE and keynotes from our Vice-Chancellor Lisa Roberts and Molly Dineen and Owen Foster who graduated early last year to join the fight against COVID-19.

We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Festival so far. You can find out more about the events and how to book your place at www.exeter.ac.uk/festivalofdiscovery. If you’d like to volunteer to support the Festival, please email festivalofdiscovery@exeter.ac.uk

Remember to be considerate when socialising

As exams come to an end and social distancing rules are relaxed from this week, you may understandably be planning to socialise. Please continue to be mindful of your neighbours, particularly those of you living in private accommodation in Exeter, Falmouth and surrounding areas as you may have neighbours with young families, or early morning work commitments.

If you are arranging a gathering, it is important to socialise safely and considerately. Please consult the noise section of the student guide (pages 24 and 25). And remember - noise in the street can carry and have a big impact on all our community.

These new freedoms have come after a long period of restriction and many will be keen to socialise. The dangers associated with excessive drinking remain, regardless of the COVID-19 situation. Please do take care of yourselves, each other and your property.

COVID-19 case numbers

The overall rate of positive results on our campuses and across the region remains very low, and once again there have been no positive cases on our campuses over the last 7 days. 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 16 May, at which time the 7-day rolling daily average of positive cases was 0.0.

It’s even easier to get COVID-19 tested - pick up your free home test kit now

We’re making it even easier to get tested for COVID-19 by providing free home test kits. You can pick up your test kit at any of our campuses and carry on testing yourself regularly in your own home.

For students in Cornwall, you can pick up your home test kit at the Penryn Campus Sports Centre or at Falmouth University’s Falmouth Campus Reception - you’ll need to book a time to pick up your kit.

For our Exeter students, you can just drop into the collection points below – please check the website for collection opening times

  • Streatham Sports Hall 
  • Car Park B, drive through (including cyclists and pedestrians)
  • Devonshire House (with additional accessibility facilities)

A collection point on our St Luke’s campus will open on Monday next week.

If you haven’t taken a test before, we recommend that you book three tests at your nearest test centre before collecting your home test kit. This will ensure you understand how to take your test and get the most accurate result.

Once you get your home test result, you must report this to the Government’s online LFD result registration. Details on how to do this are included in your kit. You must report your result whether it is negative, positive or void.

If you test positive, you must self-isolate and also book a confirmatory HALO/PCR test. You can do this easily through the University and we offer a faster test result than the NHS testing process, which means you’ll be out of isolation much quicker. We can also offer you additional support throughout the process and during your period of self-isolation – book your HALO/PCR test using our online form for Exeter or Penryn

However you do your test, it’s important to do it regularly to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

Don’t forget, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, the test you need is different. Please contact our Rapid Response Hub to book your HALO/PCR test.

For more info on testing and FAQs, visit our testing website

Research update

Following confirmation by the UK Government of the latest step in the easing of COVID-19 restrictions from 17 May, some key changes under our Research Restart approach are summarised below. Further details have recently been circulated to our academic community by Neil Gow, DVC Research & Impact.

Onsite Research

From now, formal approval from the Research Restart panel for on-site activities will no longer be required and instead can be locally agreed by the Director of College Operations in collaboration with facilities managers.

Social distancing measures remain in place and therefore capacities in labs and office spaces is unchanged.  Researchers should continue to follow the local booking/rota systems and safety measures in laboratories, workspaces and offices where appropriate.

Please remember to get tested regularly if you are working on campus.

Fieldwork

From now, Postgraduate Research students will no longer need formal approval from the Research Restart panel for UK fieldwork and instead this can be locally agreed by Directors of Research.

Authorisation of international fieldwork remains more complex. We need to carefully consider the essential nature of the research at this time in the context of Government travel restrictions, for example taking into account the travel bans applied to specific countries.  Therefore, all international requests must still be approved by the Research Restart panel.

Human Participants

Postgraduate Research students should be aware that all research studies that involve contact with human participants at less than 2m social distancing can now go ahead regardless of participant COVID-19 age, with appropriate mitigation (and risk-assessed according to relevant Government guidance). Research Restart panel approval will not be required.

Limitations on capacity in support facilities such as the Clinical Research Facility means that work will need to be prioritised.  This will continue to be reviewed in line with the Government roadmap and review of social distancing measures.

Your wellbeing

Your wellbeing is our priority and as part of our ongoing effort to improve our services and support, we’re asking students to fill out our short survey. Please can I encourage you to take part, it takes just over 5 minutes to complete and all data collected will be treated anonymously.

As part of our commitment to your wellbeing, we have worked with the Students’ Guild to launch Exehale, a space completely dedicated to just that. Students in Exeter can find the space in Devonshire House – more info.

The Guild is also launching ‘Give it a Go’ from 24 May - 4 June. As we’re now able to do more in-person, they are pleased to bring you a range of activities and events to get involved with. ‘Give it a Go’ is your chance to try something new and have a bit of fun.

And remember that our wellbeing services are available whenever you might need them. Please do contact them if you need support.

Best

Mike

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary