I‘m sure you will have heard about the Government announcement last night, which has delayed the final stage of the route map out of lockdown from 21 June until 19 July. This is disappointing news, but not unexpected given the challenge of the Delta variant.
Increasing protection through vaccination and reducing the link between infections and hospitalisations is going to be key to this ‘final stretch’. In the meantime, I urge everyone to continue to do their bit by following all the guidance on hands, face, space and fresh air and help ensure restrictions can be eased in July.
While many of the current Covid rules will have to remain in place for this extended time, there are positives to focus on.
More and more people are now being vaccinated, as well as receiving second doses. The NHS has stated that all adults aged 18 and over should be eligible for vaccines by the end of this week. We hope that this will enable many of our students to be fully vaccinated before the start of the next academic year (perhaps most if the gap between jabs is shortened and vaccine supplies hold up).
Earlier this week, when the 25 - 29 year old age group became eligible for jabs, some of our students were able to attend our own NHS pop-up vaccine clinic on campus. We are hoping to offer more pop-up vaccine clinics on campus before the end of term, as well as in September.
So any students interested in getting vaccinated on campus, no matter what your age or nationality, please complete the Student Covid Vaccine Pre-registration form with your york.ac.uk email address.
The vaccination roll out does give us optimism that universities will be able to operate much closer to normal in September and for those students returning next year, rest assured we continue our planning to prepare thoroughly for Autumn term.
We do not expect any specific guidance from the Department of Education (DfE) until at least the end of June, so we’re continuing our twin track planning, firstly for a near-normal scenario without social distancing, and secondly a restricted scenario with 1m restrictions.
While we have good news on vaccines, cases are now rising again across the UK, including in York, so please do take regular tests at our testing centre at York Sport Centre on Campus West (where you can also collect home testing kits). Testing plays, and will continue to play, a very big role for universities. The Government has made it very clear that it should be our routine. Thank you for playing your part.
As ever - if you test positive, please tell us straight away by using the self-isolation form so we can support you through isolation.
Remember, if you are leaving York any time soon, please test before you travel. You don’t want to take Covid home to your friends or family.
And the sun has been shining
It’s been great to see the sun shine for so many of our final-year student events for those who were able to attend - take a look at some of the celebrations at the departmental farewells.
As part of our end of year celebrations, YUSU has arranged a packed programme of events at The Forest in Week 10, including a student-led DJ night and a York Pride event. These are open to all students, with free tickets available from Wednesday on the YUSU website.
For now, I hope you are keeping well and have been enjoying the excellent weather. Campus is certainly looking beautiful at the moment and it has been great to see so many of you enjoying some downtime in the sun!