Helping students get home for Christmas
We know how important it is for you to get home over the Christmas break. For many of you, this will be the first time you have seen your families in person since you came to campus in September.
You may have been aware of the Government’s plans to help students return home safely at Christmas. We are following Government guidance and working with our own world-leading scientists to develop a plan to support you to return home at the end of term in a way that helps to minimise the risk of transmitting Covid to family and friends.
This plan involves:
- moving all teaching online from the beginning of the week commencing 7 December
- supporting the majority of students to return home between the 3-9 December
- providing student access to rapid testing
- ensuring we continue to support those students who remain on campus
Taking teaching wholly online
In order to meet Government expectations that students will be able to return home between 3-9 December, we have taken the decision that the last day of face to face teaching on campus will be Friday 4 December.
In the week commencing Monday 7 December (the last week of teaching) we will move the vast majority of taught sessions online. Canvas is the place to look for updates and online details – but please check for updates regularly while we are making these changes. There will be some limited exceptions (up to the 9 December) and your course team will let you know as soon as possible where this is relevant. The Government has stated that some limited clinical placements can continue after 9 December and if this applies to you, additional information will be provided from your School or course team.
In week commencing Monday 14 December it is our Assessment Support Week and we will also be making all these activities and resources available wholly online.
Supporting students staying on and around campus
We know that a number of students are planning to stay on and around campus over Christmas, as they do every year. In addition, some international students will be arriving in Birmingham over the next few weeks. For all these students and our commuter students the University will remain open for access to the library, study spaces and catering until Friday 18 December. All of our wellbeing support services will also continue to be available.
During the two-week University closure period, which starts on Monday 21 December, you will still be able to access the Library and study spaces as well as emergency wellbeing support - we are only closed on the public holidays and weekends.
Postgraduate Research Students
Research activity will also continue on campus until the 18 December and therefore we anticipate that PGR students will be able to continue to come to campus to undertake their research activity should they wish to and in agreement with their supervisor. It is important, however, that PGR students are able to go home if that is their preference and if so they should follow the procedures in place for all students around getting a test and travelling between 3-9 December.
Getting a rapid COVID test
You may have heard in the media about the new Lateral Flow Device testing of students. We are applying to the Government to be part of this national programme and expect to hear next week whether we will be able to establish a rapid testing facility on campus to offer ‘lateral flow’ tests to our students. We already have a strong track record in successfully running a laboratory for existing Covid testing and are confident of being accepted onto this new programme. You will be able to book a slot to take a ‘lateral flow’ test, which can give results within an hour, enabling students who test negative to travel home immediately (and a maximum of 24 hours after the test). Students who test positive would then take a standard Covid test to confirm the result and would be supported to self-isolate for 10 days before returning home if this test is positive.
If you have any symptoms of Covid then you should apply for a Covid test using the existing NHS process.
As soon as we have confirmation from Government about whether our application to host a rapid testing facility is successful we will be back in touch with more information about the process, when the testing will take place and how to book your slot.
Maintaining Covid Safe Behaviours
It remains vitally important that everyone continues to practice Covid-safe behaviours to minimise transmission both on campus, in the community and while travelling home. Even if you have a negative Covid test you must continue to follow these measures to stop the spread of Covid:
- Cover up: wear a face covering indoors on campus, on public transport and anywhere two metre distancing is not possible
- Keep your distance: maintain two metre distancing wherever possible - and follow one-way systems
- Wash up: wash your hands thoroughly and sanitise them regularly
- Self-isolate and test: if you get symptoms, however mild, get tested straight away and follow self-isolation advice
- Socialise sensibly: follow local guidance on who you can meet and where
We are currently developing a set of FAQs, which will be available on the student intranet from Monday.