1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan alone were put into a lockdown on Friday without any warning, after 127 students tested positive for Covid-19.
The government’s scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport has previously said that students may have to stay in halls when term ends to prevent them spreading the infection to older relatives. This has sparked panic that Christmas in isolation could be on the cards for many students.
But what are the current guidelines for students across the country?
Moving out of home can be a stressful and unnerving period in the best of times, let alone moving away in the middle of a pandemic.
With many classes being moved online, students up and down the UK are keen to know whether they can return home and do their classes remotely.
There are currently no official rules in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland stating that university students who are not under self-isolation cannot leave their accommodation to return home now or at any other time.
Scottish students have been told that they can return home from their university accommodation so long as it is on a ‘long-term’ basis.
Students have been urged by the Scottish government to remain living at university to lower the risk of spread. However, if they do decide to permanently move back home, they have been asked to follow coronavirus self-isolating rules and not use public transport.
Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme about whether students would be forced to stay in their university towns at Christmas, Mr Hancock said: ‘I don’t want to have a situation like that and I very much hope we can avoid it.’
He added: ‘Students, once they’ve gone to university, should stay, so as not to spread the disease.’
Students have been given guidelines to stay safe while on campus:
* Social distancing must be observed on campus and in class
* Some universities have said that students must wear face coverings in class
* Students are urged not to throw parties that impede on the ‘rule of six’
* Students are encouraged to avoid socialising in places that do not have Covid-19 protections in place
* Students’ housemates/flatmates are counted as their new household, and the same social gathering rules apply
* Campus pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality venues must close at 10pm
* Sex has been banned for students – unless they already live together
Students living in regions under local lockdown will have to follow these guidelines on top of whatever separate guidelines have been allocated to their area.
For example, students living in Cardiff and Swansea will have to adhere to the 6pm hospitality curfew, and will not be able to leave the region.
Students living in Bolton will not be able to go to any pub or restaurant unless they run a takeaway service.
Leeds students are prohibited from socially gathering indoors with any other households.
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