Exeter students told not to go home during second lockdown

Teaching will stay mixed between online and in-person

Exeter students have been told by the University to stay in their term-time accommodation for the duration of the second lockdown, and not to travel back to their family residence.

The news came in an email from the Registrar, Mike Shore-Nye, last week: “We will work to continue to deliver ongoing research activity, whilst reviewing the detail of work that involves human participants. Students should continue to attend classes and colleagues should continue to work as planned, whether on campus or remotely.”

It says a mix of online and face to face teaching will continue where safely possible, given the lack of evidence that the policy of ‘blended learning’ has caused any rise in COVID cases at the university. However, in line with lockdown rules, food outlets, gyms, bars and other sports facilities will be forced to close.

Students will still be able to access study spaces (including the Forum library) and coffee shops such as Costa and Pret will be open for takeaway services.

The Registrar praised the collective efforts of students in following previous University-dictated restrictions: “In Exeter and in Cornwall we have shown that our collective efforts, including reducing household mixing and supporting rapid testing and isolation, can drive down the spread of the virus and that we can support each other and our local communities to stay safe. This must be our renewed focus.

“Due to everyone’s hard work and commitment in reducing the spread of COVID-19 amongst University students, we had begun to reintroduce student sports and activities. It is clear that we will now have to pause these plans whilst we assess the detail of the new restrictions.

“We will also not be able to relax the restriction on household mixing as we had planned as this will now become a national restriction. I will keep you updated throughout and if anything changes that allows us to re-open any activities I will inform you immediately.

“The number of people in Devon and Cornwall who have tested positive for COVID -19 is loser than other parts of the UK and if we are able to maintain our vigilance and resolve, we can be hopeful that restrictions will be eased in early December.”

He also acknowledged the upcoming strain on the University community during the second lockdown, adding: “Throughout this period, the safety, wellbeing and mental health of our students and staff will be our highest priority. Our spaces, for our teaching and our research, are COVID-19 secure and our testing and support for isolation remains critical in identifying and stopping the spread of the disease and safeguarding those around us.

“We will introduce additional support for students and colleagues as required, and we will look once more at options for the redeployment or furlough of colleagues where needed.

“We have become used to restrictions such as those that we now face, and it is clear that the country faces the urgent possibility that the NHS may become overwhelmed if the rate of transmission is not reduced.”

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