Covid-19 update: Easter break and Summer Term
Dear postgraduate researchers,
We have been progressing our plans against the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Whilst there may be some setbacks, and we will all have to remain patient and flexible, I have provided a summary below to look further ahead to Easter and the Summer Term.
Our Research Contingency Group is following the roadmap and working with Departments to help them to actively manage a transition to increased research activity. This includes a gradual increase to building and lab occupancy, as well as research fieldwork restarting with revised mitigations in place for Covid-19 security. I know that the fieldwork restrictions during lockdown have necessitated fundamental changes in research methods and that many of you will welcome the opportunity to restart some in-person interaction and activities again, even with continued travel and social restrictions in place.
For Graduate Teaching Assistants: In-person teaching
From this week, we have also seen more - although in very limited numbers - degree programmes requiring access to specialist facilities able to return to in-person teaching. We are currently coordinating with Departments on their plans for next term and each will be updating students with their Summer Term timetables next week.
For UG courses requiring access to specialist facilities, we will have in-person teaching and learning activities from the start of term until the start of the Common Assessment Period in May. These will broadly follow the blended model of online and in-person activity we used back in November. Additional activities are also being planned by some Departments for later in the term.
For PGT courses that require access to specialist facilities, in person activities will be scheduled throughout the term.
Teaching on other UG and PG courses is likely to remain online only, in accordance with government guidance.
Travelling ‘home’ (within the UK) for the Easter break
The current UK Government guidance for the Easter break is to stay where you are if possible. However, the Government has announced a travel exemption for students including PGRs, which means you can leave student accommodation and travel on one occasion to one other UK household between 8 March 2021 and 29 April 2021, and return to your term-time accommodation after the break.
If you are in York and plan to travel to another part of the UK, the Government advises you to take two rapid results covid tests before you go and again when you return. Nobody wants to take covid home for the holidays!
Travelling outside the UK
International students and PGRs are also permitted to return home once for the Easter break. However, the Department for Education strongly advises students and PGRs not to travel overseas. If you are committed to travelling overseas, please be aware of the covid testing requirements (the rapid results test is not suitable) and the need for a travel declaration form. You would also need to follow all quarantine rules on your return. You can check the latest advice on the government website.
If you are struggling financially because of the pandemic, I encourage you to apply to the Emergency Student Support Fund (ESSF) which provides short-term financial support for the unanticipated needs of students and PGRs caused or exacerbated by Covid-19. The next round opens today, Wednesday 10 March, and closes on Tuesday 16 March.
Other sources of support for PGRs are the PGR Writing Up+ Fund (deadline 31 May) and Covid-19 PhD Scholarship Fund (round 3 opens on 12 April).
Next steps out of lockdown
Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing our progress as we take our next steps out of lockdown. We look forward to hearing that we are on track as the Government reviews the situation every few weeks.
In the meantime, thank you for your continued hard work. I hope your friends and family are also looking forward to the easing of restrictions and that the vaccine roll out is going well for your loved ones. Keep looking after yourselves, and each other - and do plan a break over Easter if you possibly can.