Students urged not to return to campus until further notice

Students have been advised not to return after the winter break, with some exceptions. Ella Williams reports.

Ella Williams
1st January 2021
Image: Newcastle University

An email to all Newcastle students yesterday has urged students not to return to campus except under specific circumstances. This follows the Government announcement earlier this week that extended Tier 4 restrictions to over three quarters of the country, including Newcastle.

The email, sent out by Academic Registrar Lucy Backhurst, calls for students to “stay at home unless travel is essential”, and confirms that teaching will continue online until further updates are provided. This is a change from previous plans set out by the Department for Education for a staggered return beginning on 4 January.

The new advice includes international students, who have been asked to rearrange travel plans back to Newcastle provided this does not involve “undue cost”. Rent rebates for University owned accommodation will apply for up to two weeks worth of rent for those returning after 24th January.

Exceptions to the guidance have been set out for three groups in the email: students on practical courses, research students requiring on-campus facilities and those with another “compelling reason” to be on campus.

Students on practical courses

Those enrolled a course considered to be a “practical subject” will be allowed to return to campus if needed, the email says. A full list of these subjects is due to be announced today.

Research students

Those who require access to “specialist facilities” for their research will be allowed to return to campus.

Other compelling reasons

According to the email, valid reasons include mental wellbeing issues that “can only be met by returning to campus”, those who have remained in Newcastle over the winter break and returning for work placement modules. Additionally, students without access to adequate study spaces at home are exempt from the new advice.

The email confirms that on-campus facilities such as libraries and study spaces will be open for exempt students returning to campus. The quick-turnaround Covid testing centre will also be available for use, and those returning to campus are advised to take two tests three days apart upon arrival back as previously planned.

To book an on-campus COVID test click here. Additional support and queries can be directed to covidsupport@newcastle.ac.uk.

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