Covid-19 update: Easter break, travel and Summer Term
Next week marks the end of term for many of our students and the beginning of the Easter break.
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, so as to keep the spread of Covid to a minimum. This applies to students here in York, as well as those at permanent addresses elsewhere.
Having said that, the Government has very recently announced a travel exemption for students, which means you can leave your 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. Nobody wants to take covid home for the holidays!
Travelling outside the UK
International students are also permitted to return home once for the Easter break. However, the Department for Education strongly advises students not to travel overseas in order to minimise transmission and because travel restrictions could change while you are away and make it more difficult for you to return.
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.
Arriving in England from outside the UK
Government guidelines changed in February. If you’re travelling to England from outside the UK you must either quarantine (self-isolate) in the place you’re staying or in a managed quarantine hotel for ten days, depending on where you have been in the ten days before you arrive. In response to the revised travel guidance, the University has updated its advice and financial support for any international students who are coming to York for the first time.
Our next Term begins for the majority of our students on 19 April. Your department will be in touch with more details and your Summer Term timetable should be available from Wednesday 17 March.
For UG courses requiring access to specialist facilities, we will have in-person teaching and learning activities from then until the start of the Common Assessment Period. 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.
By Monday 12 April, the Government plans to announce whether the country is in the position to move to Stage 2 on the roadmap out of lockdown.
We are hoping for good news on 12 April. Whilst much teaching will remain online, we will look to offer opportunities for students to come together in person, for example, academic community building, skills workshops or group study sessions. We will use our campus and facilities as best we can to accommodate all teaching and learning activities within the covid constraints we will have in place.
This also includes opening up other in-person activities on campus to support more social opportunities, including recreational and sporting activities, as restrictions ease. In addition to the marquee at the Piazza on Campus East, we are adding four more covered outdoor structures around campus. These can be used for learning and teaching purposes but will also be bookable as social spaces for our University community by student societies, college groups, and students wanting to engage more with their coursemates.
If you are away from campus accommodation over Easter, it is vital that when you return you take part in rapid results testing, once immediately upon arrival and then again three days later. All students using campus facilities should get tested twice weekly. This will be all the more important in managing the risk of virus transmission as more in-person activity on campus resumes. Even though the vaccination programme is proceeding well, most staff and the great majority of students (some of whom may have health vulnerabilities) will not have been vaccinated until later in the summer. Testing helps protect them. Learn more about the testing on campus.
Emergency Student Support Fund
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 caused or exacerbated by Covid-19. The next round opens today, Wednesday 10 March and closes on Tuesday 16 March.
While the future is beginning to look brighter, I must stress that there are many uncertainties around the roadmap timetable the Government has set out. There may be some setbacks and we will all have to remain patient, flexible, and willing to play our part by following the rules and participating in testing.
Finally, if you haven’t already done so, please do complete this week’s Tell Us student pulse survey which is open until 2pm on Thursday 11 March. It really does help inform decisions around teaching, learning and student support.
Have a safe and enjoyable break and please do continue to look out for yourselves and each other.