Image Credit: Pippa Fowles/ No10 Downing Street
The government has announced that University students will be allowed to return to family homes for the Christmas holidays. The announcement came from the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, when speaking to the Commons on Tuesday.
Since students have returned to universities across the country, there have been growing fears, particularly amongst students living in halls of residence, that they would either have to self isolate before returning home or would be prevented from returning home at all.
Williamson aimed to reassure students and their families stating: “I know there has been some anxiety about the impact safety measures will have on the Christmas holidays.”
“Students are important members of the communities that they choose to study in. We expect them to follow the same guidance as those same local communities.”
“We are going to work with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones if they choose to do so.”
Recent weeks have seen several universities face backlash from students as they have been allowed to enter halls of accommodation only to be forced to self isolate with security guards in place to stop them leaving their rooms. Manchester Metropolitan University, for example, initially told 1,500 students that they would need to self isolate for 14 days. While this will no doubt help prevent the spread of Covid-19 across universities, measures such as these have left many students anxious about whether the government will introduce sudden new restrictions for the Christmas holidays.
The University of York’s Vice Chancellor has reassured students living in York in a recent email that the university had voiced its concerns to the government and they would do all they could to allow students to see their families over the holidays.
Mr Williamson tried to offer encouragement to university students and staff by saying “We’ve now seen the new intake of first-year students who are beginning a new chapter in their lives at university together with those who are returning to carry on their studies.
“I know this will not be the start that any of them would have wanted and expected, and I’d just like to say that I am pleased to see both universities and students have followed the guidance in a responsible way, putting themselves, their friends and the local community in a safe place and out of harm’s way.”
However, while encouraging statements can be made now, with growing levels of COVID cases at universities (York, today, confirmed that 16 people are currently positive on campus), these early promises could very well change.