Cambridge University’s public health campaign gives glimpse into student life next term

‘Stay Safe Cambridge Uni’ is a guide to life at Cambridge in the midst of the pandemic

Today the University of Cambridge launched its new public health campaign, “Stay Safe Cambridge Uni”, which is to serve as a guide to all members of the University during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resource, created by the University in partnership with College and student representatives, is based on public health guidance, and includes an “information campaign, webpages, and a series of short films”, all of which are designed to inform students of how to study at Cambridge safely and minimise the risks of COVID-19 for themselves and others.

Much of the information we are already familiar with, including the need to wear face coverings in “most buildings”, as well as encouraging social distancing between separate households.

Whilst some Colleges are yet to release a complete set of COVID-19 guidelines, the University has said: “For most Colleges, a household will be classified as students living together and sharing communal facilities, such as toilets and showers.”

The website also addresses other aspects of returning to and living in Cambridge next term, including the procedure for international students. Those who are travelling from a non-exempt country to Cambridge for Michaelmas term will need to self-isolate for 14 days, which means that they will be unable to “go shopping”, “go out to visit public areas” and will need to limit contact with others inside the quarantine accommodation as much as possible.

They have reassured students that, if housed in College accommodation during quarantine, “your College will arrange for food to be made available to you, usually by delivery to your room during the quarantine period. The arrangements may vary between Colleges and your own College will be able to give you specific details of the arrangements they have made.”

The campaign also begins to address socialising with people from other households in College spaces: in non-residential outdoor areas (such as College gardens) “you may gather in a group of up to six people from different households” whilst maintaining a 2 metre distance; in indoor communal areas (such as Hall) “local social distancing instructions must be observed”.

There is additional guidance for socialising in accommodation areas: one household may host another household as long as social distancing is observed, and those living in off-site college accommodation “are responsible for retaining a list of your visitors in the preceding 21 days for Test and Trace purposes.” However, the site goes on to say that: “It is important to avoid having visitors from multiple households visit your own household at the same time; consider using group-chats to coordinate visits – especially for larger households.”

The University has also announced that any student or member of the University experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be able to get tested for free, at either the Addenbrooke’s Hospital or the Department of Engineering testing sites.

In a video on the campaign’s website, Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope speaks of the challenge of the pandemic and its effects on the University, saying that it “requires that each one of us behaves responsibly, and follows public health guidelines.”

He later goes on to say: “I hope that we will be kind to one another, and thoughtful, so that we can look back on this moment and say it was a time not only that was strange, but when the community pulled together and rose to the challenge.”

The Leader of the Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, has emphasised that members of the University have a responsibility to the wider Cambridge community, as well as to fellow students,  saying: “The successful and safe return of students and university staff to Cambridge this autumn is vital for them and for our whole city. We have, as councils, been working in close partnership with our universities, so that everything is in place to protect people and to share sound advice to newcomers.

“Ensuring younger people keep safe as well as have fun and make the most of their time in Cambridge will boost our local fight to beat coronavirus and avoid the ongoing risks of both a fresh surge and the need for a lockdown in Cambridge. This is why we unequivocally endorse the efforts of our two University #StaySafe campaigns and the considerable thought and planning taking place, so that we and everyone in Cambridge can successfully deliver our #StaySafeCambridge campaign.”

The website also has a list of downloadable resources, including posters on how to wash your hands, reminders to socially distance and to get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, which are expected to be a familiar sight around colleges and Cambridge campus sites in the upcoming term.

There are still many aspects of student life that are still uncertain, but this public health campaign has answered some questions as to how the University will operate whilst we live and study alongside the coronavirus pandemic, and will work alongside College-specific advice. For more information visit the site here.

Feature image credit: Stay Safe Cambridge Uni