Coronavirus: Mass Testing and ‘Student Travel Window’ to Bring Them Home for Christmas | Political news

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English universities are expected to stop in-person teaching and return to online courses by early December to allow students to return home safely for Christmas, the government said.

Guidelines to be issued by the Department of Education will state that students will be allowed to travel between December 3 and 9 to ensure families can be reunited during the holiday season.

Universities are expected to employ staggered departure dates during this “student travel window” and work with neighboring institutions to manage the resulting pressure on transport infrastructure.

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The hope is that the risk of transmission will be reduced as the students return home after the four weeks. COVID-19[feminine[feminine confinement.

The government has pledged to work closely with universities to establish mass testing capability.

Coronavirus tests will be offered to as many students as possible before their departure, according to the ministers.

Universities located in high prevalence areas will be given priority, the DfE said.

If students test positive for the virus before the travel window, they will have plenty of time to complete their self-isolation and go home for Christmas.

However, if a student chooses to stay on campus later in December, they will need to remain isolated in their accommodation for 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19.

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Universities will be invited to offer additional help and support to students who stay on campus over Christmas, including affordable food.

Durham University is running a rapid screening pilot project, which includes identifying asymptomatic people.

Several hundred staff and students from two colleges in Durham took part in the volunteer program.

The pilot uses self-administered lateral flow tests, which use a nasal and nasal swab and give results within 30 minutes.

Durham is examining whether it is possible to roll out mass testing across the university before Christmas.

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Commenting on the release of the guidelines, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “We know Christmas will be different, and after this incredibly difficult year, we are delivering on our commitment to bring students back to their loved ones in the safest way possible. for the holidays. .

“We have worked very hard to find a way to do this for the students, while limiting the risk of transmission.

“It is now vital that they follow these steps to protect their families and communities, and that universities make sure that students get all the well-being supports they need, especially those who stay. on campus during the break.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said the “massive student movement” presented a “really big challenge” amid the pandemic.

“The measures announced today will help minimize this risk and help students return home with their families in the safest possible way for Christmas,” she said.

“It is essential that students follow the advice in order to protect their families and the communities they return to. “

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Universities UK said students and staff “will appreciate the confirmation of the government’s end-of-term plans” in light of “the prolonged uncertainty they have faced this year”.

“With universities being urged to end in-person learning by December 9, some students will now miss out on internships, hands-on lessons and other in-person instruction towards the end of the term,” a door said. -speak.

“Universities will have to work with students and government to manage the challenges this creates.

“The government must now urgently focus on working with the industry on plans to ensure that students can safely return to school in person in January, thanks to improved testing capacity.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the Union of Universities and Colleges, said the government’s plans were “riddled with holes” and “raised as many questions as they answered.”

“Allowing about a million students to travel across the country only one week leaves little room for error,” she said.

“If the government instead asked universities to go online now, it would give much more time to stagger the student movement and better protect the health of staff, students and their communities at large. “

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