Last week, the UK government announced a plan for how they are going to get students in England home safely for Christmas, without causing a spike in the virus.
The government has outlined a six day period, ‘the student travel window’, during which students can travel back to their family homes. Students will be allocated a time within this window to stagger the travel of students across the UK.
Before this window, universities will carry out mass testing for students across their campus. If a student tests negative for COVID-19 they will be allowed to travel home immediately. Those who test positive will need to isolate for ten days, still leaving enough time to be home for Christmas.
The plan is to begin testing at the end of November to allow enough time for all students to be tested before the travel window. And to ensure enough tests are underway before England comes out of lockdown on the 2nd of December. Universities will be trialling rapid tests which can produce a result in as little as 20 minutes.
The government as of yet have not announced any plans for the return of students in January.
The Welsh government are asking students in Wales to travel no later than the 9th of December. While reports suggest Scotland and Northern Ireland will publish their plans in the next few days.
To accompany this decision, the government is insisting that all UK universities ensure 100% of teaching is available online from the 9th of December. This will allow students to leave university before teaching has finished for Christmas and continue their learning.
Many people have expressed concerns about this move to online teaching. It means that many practical lessons, placements, and important in-person teaching will have to be cancelled. However, the government is suggesting that while this may not be the perfect solution, it is the only way to stop the virus spreading.
In September, thousands of students crossed the country for university. This caused a dangerous spike in COVID-19 cases. Many students had to self-isolate in university halls of residence, and there were large concerns for the safety and wellbeing of students at the time.
Starting university during the pandemic has been extremely challenging for many young people. Developing a Student hopes that this travel plan will enable students to return home and have a much-needed rest safely.
If you are a student that needs help and support related to COVID-19, please access your universities mental health services.
For more helpful guides and tips, visit our dedicated page for Students and graduates.