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An update on returning to campus in January 2021

By Newcastle University
Armstrong Building

An update on returning to campus in January 2021

Following the Government’s announcement yesterday (Wedneday 30th December) in response to rising cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across parts of England and the extension of Tier 4 restrictions to more regions of the country, our Academic Registrar, Lucy Backhurst has written to all our students.

In the message which went out on Thursday 31st December, we wanted to give students as much information as we have at this time from the Department of Education (DfE) regarding:

  • Returning to the City of Newcastle and to Campus
  • Arrangements for International Students
  • Facilities on campus
  • Rapid testing on return
  • Support available

Returning to the City of Newcastle and to Campus

Newcastle and the surrounding areas are now in Tier 4 restrictions and everyone is encouraged to stay at home unless travel is essential.

In order to keep both our students and our community as safe as possible, we urge students not to return to campus at this time unless it is absolutely necessary for their course, their research or their wellbeing.

 The following groups of students may return to campus:

 a) Students on practical courses of study

 If you are a taught programme student studying a practical course of study you are able to return to campus from 4 January if necessary.

 This has been defined by the Government as students studying: 

  • Medicine and Dentistry

-     Subjects allied to medicine/health including but not exclusively: pharmacy, dental hygiene, physician associates, speech and language therapists.

  • Education (Initial Teacher Training)
  • Professionally accredited courses with practical placement and present in person activities scheduled in January which cannot be rescheduled If you fall into this category, your school will contact you next week.

Academic schools will be in contact where relevant.

b) Research students requiring access to facilities

 If you are a research student who requires access to specialist facilities on campus for your research.

 c) Students with a compelling reason to be on campus

 In addition, if you have remained in Newcastle over the break or if you have a compelling reason to return to campus, you may do so. This includes:

  • Students without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in your vacation accommodation
  • Students who have remained in their university accommodation over the winter break
  • Those requiring additional support, including students with mental health issues, which can only be met by returning to campus.
  • Students on placements where the placement provider has COVID-secure measures in place, is permitted to open based on the relevant local restrictions, and is content for placements to continue

These students should make arrangements to have taken two Rapid (LFD) Tests, three days apart, upon return.

Placement students may already have been sent a test kit, and our University test centre re-opens on the 4th January – bookings are available now

For all other students, your teaching and learning will be offered online and we encourage you to stay at home until further notice. We will recommence regular updates from next week and will let you know of any changes.

International students

The government advice for international students travelling from overseas for the Spring term is to consider whether they in fact need to travel to the UK at this time, particularly if their course does not require them to be on campus from 4 January. Those students should consider delaying if travel arrangements can be rearranged without undue costs.

For those international students who have remained in the UK and those of you arriving in the UK shortly, please remember to follow the guidelines for self-isolation and quarantine on arrival in the UK. More details can be found on the Government website here.

Facilities on Campus 

For those students who are on campus in the coming weeks, facilities such as study space and the library will be made available in a COVID-safe way and in line with current Government guidance. We will continue to update you on these through our communications and our FAQs and students should only access campus facilities if they fall into one of the exemptions mentioned above.

Rapid Testing

The University Rapid (LFD) Test Centre will open as planned on the 4th January 2021and booking slots are currently available. If you are going to be in Newcastle and on Campus, you will need to make arrangements to take two tests three days apart as soon as possible, including those who have remained on campus over the Winter Break. This applies unless you are arriving from another country and are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

For all other students, tests will continue to be available when we are able to plan for a return to present in person teaching and you will be asked to take two tests three days apart when returning for any face to face on campus activity once this is possible.

Support

We appreciate these last minute changes will bring their own challenges to many of you.

For students living in University owned and University managed and partnership accommodation arrangements, January rent rebates will apply, please see here for further information.

We will continue to keep students informed with further news as we receive it and all of us at Newcastle will continue to work hard to support every student in these difficult times. For details of the support available to students, please visit our webpages and please don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Please continue to keep an eye on our FAQs which we are updating continuously, and if you have any queries, email covidsupport@newcastle.ac.uk and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Letter from Michelle Donelan MP - Minister of State for Universities

Michelle Donelan MP wrote to all University students on 31 December 2020 outlining the Government's guidelines for returning to University in 2021. You can read a copy of the letter here.