‘Students will get help to self-isolate – no matter where they live’

STUDENTS will get support while self isolating, no matter where they live in the city, the vice chancellor of the University of York has said.

Prof Charlie Jeffery praised students who have been self isolating following positive coronavirus test results for helping to keep the community safe – and said the majority of young people “understand the gravity of the situation”.

He also explained how a range of online activities have been arranged by the students’ union and societies to encourage people to socialise safely.

The university has had a handful of positive cases since the start of term – which Prof Jeffery says is to be expected given the city’s large student population.

He said: “I’m really clear that if a student has to self-isolate, whether they have symptoms or are waiting for a test result, they are doing something that’s quite selfless to protect the rest of us and we have an obligation to help people in that situation.

“It’s not a punishment, it’s a good thing that are doing for us.

“We will support them – that’s about the supply of essential food, medications and helping with laundry.

“Students’ rooms are not that big and they could feel isolated and unhappy [while self isolating]. We are working with the students’ union, who have switched creatively to deliver activities online.

“I’m also keen that we have regular daily contact to just check in with student, but also if something is up – if their laundry didn’t come back or if a student gets more ill – we have got to react to that.”

A walk in test site opened on campus last week and if a student has symptoms or tests positive, they are asked to notify the university so that they can start tracing contacts and providing support, regardless of whether they live in college or private accommodation.

“Despite the challenges in the national testing system, those who needed a test have got tests and results quickly.

“We will contact students and make sure they are ok wherever they are living. If they are having difficulties, we will step in. Wherever students are in the city, they will be supported by us,” said Prof Jeffery.

He said if students are seen gathering in groups, security staff will approach them and ask them to move on.

He also outlined measures in place at the university’s new outdoor venue, The Forest, which features tents where people can socialise at a safe distance as well as outdoor seating, bars and food trucks.

Temperature checks are carried out at the entrance and people are asked to scan the code for test and trace. Masks must be worn until customers are seated and the venue is table service only. Tables are not allowed to mix.

“The students were having fun, they were relaxed, it was a good atmosphere,” Prof Jeffery said.

“Getting a sense of the atmosphere on campus and talking to students, I think the mood is really quite positive.”

“They have been through months of lockdown and I think they are genuinely pleased, even with the restrictions, to get back to learning and the opportunities available.

“We do depend on our students, they are the future of our country. They are our doctors, our engineers, our teachers, our scientists of the future and we are going to need them to get out of the long term effects of this crisis.

“And the vast majority of students understand the gravity of the situation.”

York Press | News