Thursday 8 April 2021

UG and PGT student email

Covid-19 update: Restrictions easing on 12 April

Dear students,

I hope you have been able to enjoy the Easter break. We were all pleased to hear the UK Government’s announcement that restrictions will ease further from Monday 12 April.

All shops will be allowed to open, we will once again be able to get a haircut and go to the gym, and we can enjoy outdoor service at restaurants and pubs, even if we have to wrap up to keep warm! This comes on top of the other recent changes which have brought the return of the rule of six outdoors and organised outdoor sport.

These changes have been possible because of our collective efforts which have brought Covid case rates down and reduced pressures on the NHS. I am grateful for everyone’s commitment in this. We do still need to keep looking out for each other, especially those not yet vaccinated - which still includes most of the University community.

Government advice for universities: teaching and coming back to York
While this easing of restrictions is very welcome news, I am very disappointed that universities have not yet had any additional information or guidance from Government for the summer term.

As you are aware, the Government advice is that in-person teaching can only take place for certain courses, and for all remaining students, teaching remains online. The Government said it would review options for in-person teaching by the end of the Easter holidays. As yet, we have heard nothing. We have said very clearly to the Government that this is not acceptable - it seems absurd that rules on tattoo parlours are now clear, but not universities!

However, we have been advised not to expect further guidance until some time next week. We know this is important for you in planning your summer term and - if you are in or able to get to the UK - where to spend it. We will pass on new information when we get it, and your Departments will be keeping you updated on their specific arrangements. Any new information about Summer Term arrangements will be posted on the Covid website.

I know that even in the absence of clear Government guidance many of you have already returned to York, and many others are planning to do so for the start of Summer Term. We have been clear that we will support students returning at any point, whether that’s because you need specialist equipment and facilities, you need to access study space or have access to reliable wifi, or because you feel your wellbeing will be better served by being at York.

While we await more formal guidance, I want to reassure you again that we will do all we can to support you, whether you are currently in York or planning to return, staying somewhere else in the UK, or continuing your studies from abroad.

If you are in York, I hope you will be able to enjoy campus more now restrictions are easing. YUSU outdoor venues such as the Forest, Alcuin Kitchen and Glasshouse will be open from the start of term on 19 April and many outdoor sports are restarting. In addition, the annual sporting varsity event between York and Lancaster, Roses Unlocked, will take place in a Covid-safe format from 30 April to 2 May. We are also in the process of putting up four new covered outdoor spaces which will be bookable for student societies, groups of coursemates to study together, and other group activities.

As the assessment period approaches we will add more study spaces in the library and elsewhere. The main library will be open 24/7 from 8 am on Monday 3 May until 8 am on Sunday 6 June when it will revert to 8 am to midnight.

Covid testing - home test kits now available
Although Covid rates are down, risks of transmission are still high and will grow as lockdown restrictions are relaxed. So it is crucial that anyone using campus facilities takes part in regular rapid results testing. Testing is available on both Campus East and West. And, on Campus West, you now have the option to collect home-testing kits. Book via our rapid results testing page.

I cannot stress enough how important testing is to breaking possible chains of infection, protecting fellow students and our staff, and more generally helping us on the roadmap out of restrictions.

Vaccine programme - make sure you are registered
Remember, every person living in England is entitled to free covid vaccinations but you must be registered with a doctor. If you are living on campus or in the surrounding area, you can register online with Unity Health on Campus East. If you are living in another area of York or elsewhere in the UK, you can use the Find a GP service.

As soon as we get more information and guidance from the Government, I will be in touch again. I do hope you continue to have a safe, enjoyable break and I look forward to seeing many of you soon in our Summer Term.

Best wishes,

Charlie

Charlie Jeffery
Vice-Chancellor