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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for students – 28 April 2021

Dear Students

Key Points

  • Our Summer Term has begun, and it remains vital that we abide by the COVID-19 restrictions to enable further easing of restrictions
  • Please be considerate to your neighbours when socialising, and always follow the current guidelines
  • Government has not given permission for additional students to return to in-person activities until 17 May at the earliest
  • COVID-19 case numbers on our campuses are low, with a 7-day rolling average of 0.0 cases
  • We expect students to get tested as soon as possible after returning to the University and then regularly twice a week, every week
  • Guidance on safely travelling to university, within the UK and also internationally, has been updated
  • Cyber-security is a high priority as we continue to work and study online
  • Don’t forget to reach out for wellbeing support if you are finding things stressful

Full message

Our Summer Term began this week and I hope that you were able to take some time to rest and relax and to connect with friends or loved ones over the break. This week sees the beginning of exams for many of our students and I would like to wish everyone the very best of luck, and to say a huge thank you to the many colleagues who have prepared and supported our assessments this year.

I’d also like to thank colleagues who are working on their contributions to the Festival of Discovery which is due to take place from 24 May to 4 June. The Festival aims to offer students and staff the opportunity to re-engage with our campuses through a programme of academic and social activities and we hope that you will be able to join us for the events, which will comply with all necessary COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures. More details about the Festival of Discovery will be released over the coming weeks.

My message for this term is simple. We must continue to abide by the COVID-19 restrictions that are in place, to follow the simple hygiene measures that we have all become used to – HANDS. FACE. SPACE. FRESH AIR – and to engage with regular testing and the national vaccination programme when we have the opportunity to. Only through doing these things can we play our part in ensuring that restrictions can be further relaxed and we can return to doing many of the things we have been unable to for the last year.

I hope that, like me, you are now enjoying being able to meet friends and socialise outside, but please remember to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and not to gather in large groups. Please remain considerate to your neighbours when returning home after an evening out and if you are spending time on our beautiful beaches or out in the countryside, please don’t light fires and make sure you take all your rubbish home with you.

Finally, we have all seen the news from India, where COVID-19 has surged and is having a devastating impact. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our colleagues and students in India, and those with families and friends who are affected. We know this is a difficult time for students and colleagues who are here in the UK, away from their loved ones. If you have been impacted or affected by the situation in India or any of the many countries around the world where COVID-19 is causing such distress, then please remember that you can reach out for support from our wellbeing teams.

Returning to in-person activities

I wrote to all students on 14 April, following the most recent Government announcement which confirmed that no additional students will be permitted to return to in-person activities until 17 May at the earliest. Until that date, only those who have previously returned under the Government guidelines, are eligible to take up in-person activities. It remains the case that those students who require additional support, including those with mental health issues, may return to university sooner in order to access study spaces and support.

We know that the decision on further returns will be based on the data, including on infection levels, testing rates and the uptake of vaccinations. We await further Government guidance and we will share any announcement with you as soon as we have it.

COVID-19 case numbers

The overall rate of positive results on our campuses and across the region is currently very 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 25 April, at which time we had recorded no positive cases during the preceding 7 days, making the 7 day rolling daily average of positive cases 0.0.

Returning after spring break? Get COVID-19 tested and you could grab a free voucher  

If you have been away for the spring break, we expect you to get tested as soon as possible after you return and then regularly twice a week, every week. It’s even more important now because we’ve worked so hard together to control and minimise transmission in our University community and we want to ensure this continues as more students return and activities restart.

To say thanks to everyone getting tested, we’re giving away vouchers and prizes at all of our test centres – book your test now or, if you are in Exeter, drop into our new test pod in the Forum and you could grab a free coffee, treat or maybe a pizza to share with your household. If you are coming onto the campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come.

If you receive a positive test result, you will need to book a confirmatory PCR/HALO test. You can do  this  by filling in the online form for Exeter or Penryn Further information can be found on our dedicated student COVID-19 testing website.

Home testing or testing off campus

If you take an LFD or PCR/HALO test either at home or in any other testing facility and the result is positive, please let us know immediately by contacting the Rapid Response Hub.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, the test you need is different

Remember, if you develop COVID-19 symptoms, such as a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell, you must self-isolate and request a HALO PCR test through our Rapid Response Hub

Students travelling back to University from overseas

Are you travelling back to University from overseas? It’s really important that you understand the rules about international travel and what actions you are legally required to take. We have posted detailed guidance on international travel to and from University on our website, including guidance for students from red-listed countries, who are exempt from any travel ban. You must ensure you plan your journey, organise your quarantine, book your tests, and read all of the latest guidance including the Government guidance on travelling safely.

Travelling safely

We should all follow the Government’s guidance on how to travel safely:

  • No matter how you travel, you should plan ahead, and avoid busy times and routes where possible
  • Walk or cycle where possible
  • If using public transport, you should regularly sanitise your hands, wear a face covering unless you are exempt, and keep your distance where possible
  • It is a legal requirement that, unless exempt, you must wear a face covering on public transport and inside transport hubs, e.g. train stations. You could be fined £200 minimum if you do not comply
  • If travelling by car, you should avoid sharing with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. If this isn’t possible, you should open the windows, wear a face covering unless exempt, and leave seats free to social distance.

Stay cyber-secure

As we continue to work remotely and study online, cyber security must be a high priority for us all, and we are speeding up the roll-out of a number of measures to keep our data, research and personal information secure.

In recent weeks we have seen reports of a number of cyber-attacks on universities. These attacks typically come about through phishing, in the form of fake email, SMS and voicemail messages, and through attempts to hijack our systems through the Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Please play your part by being alert to phishing messages, and reading carefully any cyber-security messages you receive via our regular updates and newsletters.

Wellbeing support

Don’t forget to reach out if you’re finding things stressful. The Students’ Union in Cornwall has lots of information on their website and the Students’ Guild in Devon is running a Stress Less campaign this week.

You can find a range of support and resources via our wellbeing service (student support, for Cornwall). There you’ll find recorded webinars including one specifically about dealing with stress, a stress-busting workbook and other self-help resources that you can access when you need to.

Our Multifaith Chaplaincy teams in Exeter and Cornwall are there to support students of all faiths and none and if you’re in University accommodation you might want to get in touch with our Residence Life teams (Residence Life Exeter or ResLife Cornwall). You can also get in touch with our Education Support Welfare team in Exeter or The Penryn Welfare Team

The Students’ Guild Awards are now open for nominations with a special ‘Helpers and Heroes’ category for people, groups, events or projects that have had a positive impact on students or our local community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  There have been so many extraordinary contributions this year, so why not nominate someone who has given their time to supporting those who are vulnerable?

In Cornwall, nominations for the SU Awards 2021 are open until midnight on 2 May.  These awards are a chance to show our appreciation of the proactive and hardworking students who do so many incredible things beyond their studies.

Once again I would like to say thank you to you all for your efforts in protecting our community against COVID-19 and to wish you the very best of luck for your assessments and the term ahead.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary