Ben HaywardSeptember 10th
2020

Boris Johnson, has advised universities not to send students back to their out of term addresses if and when coronavirus outbreaks occur. 

Speaking on Wednesday, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, outlined a number of guidelines for universities as hundreds of thousands of students begin to return to campuses for the start of the academic year.  

Mr Johnson said: "Many university students are in the age bracket where we have seen the infection rates rise recently.

"My message to students is simple, 'Please, for the sake of your education and your parents' and your grandparents' health, wash your hands, cover your face, make space, and don't socially gather in groups of more than six, now and when term starts."

He added the updated guidance for universities on ‘how they can operate in a Covid-secure way’ included a ‘clear request not to send students home in the event of an outbreak, so as to avoid spreading the virus across the country’.

According to the BBC, the updated guidance also requests that universities identify ‘safer social activities’ for students and that Covid-secure campus bars and students' unions are created to allow some socialising.

Apparently the government also expects universities to use incentives to encourage students to comply with social-distancing measures as well as imposing disciplinary measures for serious breaches.

Universities UK (UUK) said they had been working very hard to put Covid-secure safety measures in place.

Chief executive Alistair Jarvis said: "Life across society will be different this autumn, with university life no exception, with differences to previous years. However, students can look forward to a high-quality, rewarding and enjoyable experience."

All universities are also required to plan for a tiered response, depending on the level of risk in the area.

Tier one, the default position:

  • a mix of face-to-face tuition and online lessons

  • masks worn in crowded corridors and communal areas

Tier two, the fall-back position:

  • increased online learning

  • face-to-face tuition only where possible and necessary - for example, clinical or practical learning or research

Tier three, when stricter measures needed:

  • face-to-face tuition for priority courses such as medicine only

  • students advised not to return to family homes

Tier four:

  • university buildings closed to everyone except key workers those conducting essential research

The guidance comes as some universities announcing they would be testing staff and students on a regular basis to keep them as safe as possible, while others warned students against attending busy events, threatening sanctions against those who are found to have broken the rules. 

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