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What do rising COVID-19 cases mean for York students?

Rising COVID-19 cases could mean changes to university teaching and interaction

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Image Credit: Arian Kriesch

With COVID-19 infections on the rise across the UK, the government has issued new guidance to help reduce cases and alleviate pressure on the NHS. As we move into winter, there may be changes in how the University operates in-person teaching, society gatherings, and events.

The news follows the government announcement earlier this week that a ‘Plan B’ may be a necessary step to help tackle the surge in cases this winter. According to the government website, this may see the reintroduction of mandatory face coverings in some enclosed and/or busy spaces, encouragement of a potential ‘work-from-home’ mandate, and the implementation of Covid-19 COVID-19 vaccine certificates for over-18-year-olds.

The City of York has risen to 38th out of 149 councils in England on case rates, with four areas of York now experiencing more than 500 cases a week. At the University, 30 individuals were reported to be self-isolating due to a positive COVID-19 test on 15 October. With government provisions currently remaining uncertain, the University has yet to issue an official statement on how teaching may change in the coming months.

To combat the surge in cases, children in York aged between 12-15 years will now be able to book a single dose COVID-19 vaccination at Askham Bar NHS Vaccination Centre. York City Council is hoping that this will help to reduce infection rates among young people.

YUSU President, Patrick O’Donnell, has said: “We are concerned the government's strategy of removing all restrictions and prohibitions simultaneously does seem to be causing some problems in parts of England. While case rates right now are above the same time last year in some parts of the UK that isn’t currently the case in student areas which seem to be comparable or down year on year.”

“We think this is in part down to the high participation rates of students in the vaccination program and the extent to which students are showing some caution in the reopening.”

“It’s visibly the case that more people are wearing face masks on campus than can be seen in town for example and we know that use of on-campus vaccine centres and testing facilities have seen take-up rates higher than other non-student areas.”

“The Students' Union continues to support both the University and the City of York public health dialogue and test, track and trace initiatives. If we see significant changes in the data for the student population or the government position changes, we will of course review our arrangements here at University.”

While the University remains hopeful that new COVID-19 restrictions will not disrupt teaching and student interaction, it is urging students to respect others and remain sensible when interacting in enclosed areas.

The University of York have given Nouse the following statement:

“We are grateful to our students for how they have started the term, and how they have responded so positively to our city-wide Protect, Respect, Be Kind campaign.

“There’s a real commitment to getting vaccinated, with our latest data showing 75.3% of students are now fully vaccinated and over 90.0% have had at least one dose.

“We are far from complacent however, and we remain vigilant to covid cases both locally and nationally. It is crucial that staff and students who come to campus get tested regularly.

“As we approach the winter months, it is really important we all continue to act responsibly and follow our strong recommendation to wear face coverings, along with other measures like getting tested, ensuring good ventilation and regular hand washing. Now is not the time to stop being cautious and we must continue to think of others.”

The University’s COVID-19 Walk-through Testing Site is located in Wentworth Way Car Park.

For the University's latest information and guidance on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, see http://www.york.ac.uk/coronavirus

You can also find information about the University’s help and support services at https://www.york.ac.uk/students/health/help/

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