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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for students - 3 February 2021

Dear Students,

Key points

  • We have attached the latest letter from the Minister for Universities, which includes details of additional hardship funding for students
  • Our own Success For All fund has been open throughout this last year and so far has made more than 1000 payments
  • Updated plans for university students will be announced in the week beginning 22 February
  • COVID-19 case numbers remain low on our campuses
  • Please remember: Get tested twice a week, every week, and stop the spread of COVID-19. Book your LFD tests twice a week, every week
  • We have confirmed that for those living in in University or FXPlus accommodation, the rent waiver will be extended until 8 March, for those who do not return to their accommodation
  • Full lists of the outlets, services and buildings open on our campuses are available online
  • There are a huge number of events, services and opportunities available to help you stay connected to others and support your wellbeing

Full message

I have attached a letter from Michelle Donelan, Minister for Universities (.pdf), in which she thanks students across the country for their patience and dedication they have shown in response to the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. I would like to echo her words. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the way you have worked together throughout this academic year, one that none of us would have chosen, to continue with your work and studies, and to keep each other safe and well.

The Government has made additional hardship funding available. We await details of how this will be allocated across universities, but we will ensure that at Exeter it is used to offer further support to those facing additional financial impacts.  So far our own Success For All fund has made more than 1,000 payments and £1million has been distributed to Exeter students who have been affected by the pandemic. We have recently doubled the size of the fund to £2 million, in partnership with the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union.

The Minister also tells us that Government will be reviewing the data on vaccinations and COVID-19 case rates in mid-February and that an announcement will follow in the week beginning 22 February on the plan for university students. We will of course update you as soon as further details are released.

COVID-19 Case numbers

This week we have seen a further decrease in the numbers of positive cases amongst students and staff. The data on daily cases can be found on our COVID-19 statistics web page. The page currently has data up to 31 January when the 7-day rolling daily average of positive cases was 0.7.

GET TESTED TWICE A WEEK, EVERY WEEK, AND STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

Are you back in your term-time accommodation or studying on campus? If so, please remember to book your LFD tests twice a week, every week. On-going testing will enable us to spot outbreaks quickly and ensure everyone can live together safely so please get regular tests to protect one another and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Please find below details of how to book/access your twice weekly tests at each of our campuses:

Streatham and Cornwall Campuses

Booking is simple so schedule your slots and book in advance. Make it part of your weekly routine, just like doing your weekly shop. You can make multiple bookings, just leave a gap of two to three days between your two tests in one week. To book your regular tests please use the online booking forms below:

St Luke’s Campus

There’s no need to book your twice weekly tests - just turn up at the testing centre at Baring Court*, St Luke’s, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7.45-10.30am.

*the location of the St Luke’s testing centre may change soon, if this is the case we will ensure you are informed.

When you come for your tests please remember to bring your University ID and continue to follow the current government guidance and lockdown restrictions.

Further information about our rapid twice weekly COVID-19 tests, including information on what to do if your test result is positive, can be found on our dedicated student COVID-19 test webpages. 

We’ve all worked hard to control the transmission of COVID-19, but with the emergence of new, more easily transmissible variants, it’s vital that we do everything possible to protect everyone. Please get tested twice a week, every week, and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Not only does regular testing help to prevent transmission of COVID-19, but we know that establishing our routines of regular testing will be also help us to make the case that it is reasonable to allow a managed return of more of our students to in-person teaching at the end of the current period of lockdown.

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 THE TEST YOU NEED IS DIFFERENT – PLEASE READ BELOW FOR DETAILS 

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 such as a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell, you must self-isolate and contact the Rapid Response Hub to request a HALO PCR test.

Accommodation fees

I wrote to students last week to confirm that, following Government’s announcement that the current restrictions on education activities would remain in place until 8 March at the earliest, our accommodation fee waiver will be extended to cover the extended period of the national lockdown during which many students have been asked by Government not to return to term-time accommodation. This applies to those who were living in University or FX Plus accommodation, or whose contracts were arranged through the University with a nominated partner, for whom we will waive the rent charges that would be payable during this lockdown period, for those who do not return to their accommodation.

You can read the full letter online.

Contracts with private accommodation providers are outside of our control and we know that many students who are not in University-managed or nominated rooms are being impacted by the national lockdown. The ‘Success for All’ Hardship Fund is available if you are suffering additional financial burdens.

On campus buildings, services and outlets

We are working hard to make sure that buildings and services are open and accessible to those who need them.

If you are in Exeter you can find:

If you are in Penryn you can find:

Please remember when you are using any of the outlets on our campuses:

  • Don’t forget to wear your mask when collecting your takeaway⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Be very careful to observe the 2m social distancing requirement⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Respect and observe the one-way systems, which are in place to keep everyone safe

Our ‘Here to Help’ teams are available to answer queries and signpost you to services across all our campuses. If you have any questions then please contact the teams:

Your wellbeing during COVID

Every Mind Matters

Last week saw the launch of ‘Every Mind Matters’, a new national campaign to support the nation’s mental health.  Every Mind Matters supports people to take action to look after their mental health and wellbeing and to help support others such as friends and loved ones.

The website allows you to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan. By answering 5 simple questions, you will get a personalised action plan with practical tips for dealing with stress and anxiety, boosting your mood, sleeping better and feeling more in control. The Every Mind Matters COVID-19 hub also includes practical tips and support on how we can deal with uncertainty.

Digital wellbeing

As we find ourselves working and studying during a lockdown once again, many of us are inevitably using digital tools and devices for longer periods of time. To help you stay on track with your studies or work, the Digital Hub have put together a set of tips to aid your digital wellbeing.

I’d especially like to encourage you to take regular breaks away from the screen and take the time to share what works best for you with your peers: there are fantastic ideas across the University, and sharing the ones that work for you could make a big difference to someone you work or study with.

Stay connected

As you will know by now we have a wide range of wellbeing and mental health support available and I encourage you to explore and to think about what might be right for you.

This week is Race Equality Week and also the start of LGBT+ History Month. Find out what we’re doing and join in with some of the great events being held.

For students in Exeter, the Students’ Guild are still running their Get Connected campaign and have lots of virtual events for you to get involved in over the coming weeks. Check out their webpage for all the details.

Ruby Jones, Students’ Guild VP Welfare and Diversity, is hosting a Wellbeing Week this week for all Exeter students. Check out the Facebook page to watch back some important discussions that have happened already this week. To find out what else is planned, visit their website for events, workshops and resources to help you with your wellbeing.

Meanwhile in Cornwall next week is the Raise and Donate society Wellbeing Week, and in the meantime there are lots of events to get involved with.

So, whether it’s a book club, or new music, or an Among Us tournament, or virtual yoga you are looking for, or if you fancy trying something new, there’s lots to get involved with and the list just grows and grows.

And if after all that, you still can’t think of something new to keep you occupied, stimulated and entertained, then check out this fantastic list of 99 things you can do during lockdown. Only one of them is ‘binge on a boxset’!

Best wishes

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary