Meet the students who’ll be spending Christmas Day isolated away from their families

‘All of a sudden, Christmas just came crashing down before my eyes’

Coronavirus is well and truly on the rise, with 88,376 infections confirmed on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, universities are being hit hard by this, right at the same time as around one million students are trying to head home for the Christmas break.

Students have been encouraged to take lateral flow tests before they return to their family homes, to keep their relatives safe. While many are doing just that, for some unlucky students, those tests are coming back positive. That means they’ll have to isolate for ten days, missing Christmas Day itself.

The Tab caught up with several students and young people who will be isolating in their rooms on Christmas Day, unable to join in with the festivities with their families.

Eoin, Bristol


Eoin’s family live in France

Eoin did a series of tests including a couple of lateral flows that produced what he hoped were false positives. The PCR test he took on Wednesday cemented the uncomfortable truth- he had Covid and would be missing out on Christmas.

Eoin is an international student whose family live in France. The prospect of not being able to get home during the pandemic has been a constant source of worry for him. Now, the nightmare situation has been realised.

“I’m alone in my student house which is a real bummer,” he tells me. “It is nice in the sense that I have the whole house, but no garden and shit weather means getting fresh air is difficult. I’m alone which is depressing, though plenty of people to call or chat to online.”

Eoin hasn’t seen his family since September but believes himself to be “lucky” as other international students haven’t seen their relatives in over a year.

He leaves isolation on the Boxing Day, meaning that he will spend Christmas Day alone in his uni house. What’s he going to do on the big day itself? “Maybe a Zoom call,” he says. “While I sit alone in my cold living room with a meal.

“Honestly, I’m just hoping that I get to see my brothers and parents before Easter, maybe I’ll see if I can fly over in January or February, but no idea of what’s happening with further restrictions.”

Katelyn, Lincoln


Lincoln student Katelyn

Katelyn had been coughing for a bit so decided to take a test. She was on FaceTime to her friend yesterday (Thursday) when the result came in.

“At first glance it was negative and then I looked back to it,” she says. Then the second line appeared. Katelyn had tested positive for Covid.

“I just broke down with no idea what to do. I let my housemates know so they could test themselves and so now it’s just me in my uni house,” Katelyn tells The Tab. “All of a sudden, Christmas just came crashing down before my eyes.”

Katelyn was set to have had two family Christmas celebrations but her positive test result has thrown a spanner in the works. It’s particularly frustrating as Katelyn had been extra cautious, testing every day for the previous week so as not to endanger her relatives on her return.

Katelyn will now be spending Christmas alone, trapped in her uni house. “I think I’m going to do an online food shop and make myself a mini roast dinner on Christmas and just do what I usually do and eat a load of Celebrations and watch depressing soap Christmas specials because there’s nothing better to do,” Katelyn tells The Tab.

Charlotte, Bristol

Charlotte tested positive on Tuesday, but by that time she’d already got back from Bristol to her family home. Now, she’s locked up in her room, isolating away from her relatives. This is her situation until midnight on Christmas Day.

“I can no longer stay at my Grandma’s and spend Christmas with the rest of my family,” she tells me. “I feel sad about it, as I really hoped Christmas this year would be Covid free, but it’s even worse than last year’s!

“It’s also a very important event in my Grandma’s calendar, was upsetting to break the news and see her disappointment.”

Charlotte will eat her Christmas lunch, alone in her bedroom. Charlotte tells The Tab: “This will be my final day of isolation, so I will resurface at midnight and spend time with the family then (providing none of them are also in isolation).”

Josie, London

Josie, 27, isn’t at uni but works as a technician in London. She lives with her partner who was told, after coming home from work on Tuesday, that one of his colleagues had tested positive.

Josie’s partner tested positive and shortly after, so did Josie. “I reported it on the NHS app which then told me I had to isolate until midnight on Boxing Day,” she says.

While Josie is grateful she’s got her boyfriend for company, she’s upset that she’ll be missing out on festive plans.

“The only things I’m gutted about is not being able to see my parents – we were going to have a Christmas meal out this weekend,” Josie told The Tab

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