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

Dear Students,

Key points

  • From next week, a limited number of additional students will be able to return for in-person teaching activities. Timetables will be updated to reflect the changes
  • Travelling between areas is still not permitted. You should only return to University if you have permission to do so
  • Students who have returned to their term time accommodation are currently encouraged by Government not to make any further travel during the Easter break
  • We strongly expect everyone who is taking part in on-campus activities to book twice-weekly tests. Play your part. Get regular tests and stop the spread of COVID-19
  • To enable us to keep our community safe and to give us a chance to run more teaching, sport and society activity after Easter, we need to demonstrate to government that everyone who has returned to Exeter or Cornwall is playing their part in keeping our community safe and is getting tested twice a week
  • Students who were relocated due to the discovery of a WW2 bomb on the edge of the Streatham campus must book COVID-19 tests as soon as possible
  • Further support has been announced for Postgraduate Research Students
  • Students returning to our Penryn campus must reactivate their ID cards
  • COVID-19 cases on our campuses remain low and we must all do everything we can to maintain this
  • Remember that a range of services and resources are available to support your wellbeing

Full message

Next week sees the first step in what we all hope will be a phased return to some sort of normality. In time we hope to be able to recover many of the freedoms we have had to forego in our collective drive to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This process begins on 8 March when primary and secondary schools will reopen, and universities will be able to offer some additional face-to-face teaching to students on programmes that require specialist facilities.

Later this week timetables will be updated for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students in the following subject areas, to show which in-person activity will recommence after 8 March:

  • Archaeology
  • Biosciences
  • Drama
  • Education (placements will continue as normal)
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Maths and Computer Science
  • All College of Medicine and Health programmes
  • Mining Engineering
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sport and Health Sciences

For activity that will be offered in-person from 8 March, the event description will change to ‘This activity will be on campus from 8 March to the end of term’. The location of the activity will be visible to students and staff on the Friday evening in the week before the activity is due to take place.

For information on remote study, please see our Remote Study FAQs.

Please note: this is a limited return to in-person teaching for a small number of additional students, as outlined in Government policy. Those who do not have on-campus teaching sessions scheduled should not return, unless they have exceptional reasons to do so. Everyone coming onto campus is expected to take a test. Details of how and when to do this are below.

Travelling between areas is still not permitted, unless in exceptional circumstances.

Continue to check MyTimetable for your in-person teaching start date. Once you have confirmation of this, you can plan your return to your term-time accommodation, or start planning your commute to and from campus. We have published some guidance on travelling back to University, whether you are travelling within the UK or returning to campus from overseas.

If you are returning to your Halls of Residence please let your reception team know. For the period from 4 January to 19 June 2021, students will only be required to pay their accommodation fees from the point when they return to their accommodation.

Students who are resident of Birks Grange Village and are planning to return to their accommodation from elsewhere in the country should contact the accommodation office before they depart to check on the availability of their rooms.

When returning we must all ensure we know how to play our part in keeping our campuses and community safe by fully engaging with the COVID-19 secure measures in place, including

  • observing social distancing
  • regularly washing your hands
  • wearing your face covering
  • taking a test twice a week and self-isolating if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19.

Full information on campus COVID-19 security can be found here.

Easter holidays

The Department for Education are currently encouraging students who are in their term-time accommodation NOT to return home again for the Easter period in April.

Whilst we await final confirmation of Government policy we are in the process of establishing the approach that will be taken for our catered students who are on campus and will be writing to them shortly.

Self-isolating students

If you are returning to the University for one of the permitted reasons above, please be mindful that you may be returning to a household in which another student is self-isolating. If this is the case, you will also be legally required to begin a period of self-isolation.

Book your free twice weekly tests now

We strongly expect everyone who is taking part in in-person activities or using facilities on our campuses to book free twice-weekly tests, 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.

In Exeter, as well as the major test site at the Streatham Sports Hall we now have a daily testing site at St Luke’s sports hall, a weekly pop-up site at Cornwall House and a new centre at the Exeter City Football ground on Mondays and Thursdays 1.30-4pm so it should be easy to get a test wherever you are.

In Penryn, twice-weekly testing is carried out in the sports hall.

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

To give us a chance to offer more teaching, sport and society activity after Easter we need to demonstrate that everyone who has returned to Exeter or Cornwall is playing their part in keeping our community safe and is getting tested twice a week

Play your part: Get regular tests and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19, YOU MUST SELF-ISOLATE AND 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.

Testing for those who were displaced due to the Exeter bomb

Once again I would like to thank those of you who had to be, or continue to be, temporarily relocated due to the discovery of a WW2 bomb on the edge of the Streatham campus. To help us to detect any issues early and avoid potential COVID-19 transmission it is essential that students who needed to move out of their accommodation during this incident, including those who remain in temporary alternative accommodation, book a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

We have a number of test centres set up around our campuses and the city to make it as easy as possible for you to get tested - book your tests here https://www.exeter.ac.uk/coronavirus/students/testing.

For those students living in the St James' Park area, we now have a COVID-19 test site open 1.30-4pm on Mondays and Thursdays, based in the Centre Spot Bar at Exeter City Football ground - please use this if it is nearer to you - there is no need to book at this test centre.

Further support for Postgraduate Research (PGR) Students

UK Research and Innovation announced earlier this week some measures to further support PGR students. We await full details on the level of funding to Exeter and further information on how we can use the funding allocated to us.

The announcement indicated a three-part approach: additional funding of £7m to be distributed to universities for the UKRI Covid-19 Phase 2 Extensions process; funding of £11m to be distributed via Research England to help universities support their postgraduate research communities; and consultation with UKRI training grant holders on greater flexibility in the redeployment of funds earmarked for training and future recruitment, to support extensions for current students.

Our process to award the UKRI Covid-19 Phase 2 Extensions funding is in progress already, and we aim to continue with this to our planned schedule. We anticipate that any further funding we receive for this scheme would enable us to support a greater number of the applications we have received.

We will want to consider how our allocation from Research England can best contribute to the measures that we have implemented in support of all of our PGR students. We will set out our plans as soon as we can.

Reactivating your ID cards at Penryn Campus

If you are returning to campus, you will need to reactivate your ID card to access buildings. You can do this by touching your card on a main SALTO reader pad. These can be found at the entrances to the Heart Reception, Exchange (top and bottom), Exchange courtyard, Sports Centre and Glasney Lodge.

Hold your card on the pad for about 20 seconds or until the alarm sound changes. This will update your card and you should then have the same access permissions that you previously had.

If you require any assistance, please contact the team at accesscontrol@fxplus.ac.uk.

COVID-19 case numbers

The overall rate of positive results on our campuses remains low and we need to work together to maintain this. 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 28 February when the 7 day rolling daily average of positive cases was 1.0.

Wellbeing

As always I would like to remind you that our wellbeing services are available, should you need help and support. You can find all our links and resources on our wellbeing pages. You can also contact the advice services run by the Students’ Guild in Exeter and Students’ Union in Cornwall.

This Thursday is University Mental Health Day and so please take a look at our social media and that of the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union for a range of posts with information and events #UniMentalHealthDay and get involved if you can. You can find details of Students Union activities here and you can Get Connected via the Students Guild events.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary