Dear St Mary’s Students,
Happy New Year, I had hoped to be updating you with more cheerful news, however due to the latest update from government we must continue to follow their advice to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help everyone Stay Safe at St Mary’s.
Further to the email I sent yesterday, we have now reviewed the guidance from Government and have outlined below how this impacts us and the steps we all need to take. We have also been in contact with the Student Union on specific issues facing some groups of students and are keen to continue to act in the best interests of all our students.
As a result of rising cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the new strain of COVID-19, Universities across England have been asked to help reduce the numbers of students travelling to and from campus at the beginning of term. In order to achieve this in line with Government guidance we will be moving a number of programmes online between 4th and 22nd January 2021. There are some exemptions to this guidance, as outlined in a letter from the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, for key programmes. However unless you are contacted by your Programme Team you should assume that teaching on your programme will be online if it is timetabled to start between 4th and 22nd January 2021. Therefore, unless you are already on campus or are contacted by your Programme Team the Government advice is that you remain in your current address and avoid travelling to campus whilst we start term online.
The Government guidance also asks universities to make provision for students who have no access to appropriate study facilities in their non-term time address; the library will be open to allow for this. You may also need to come to campus to access additional support, including some Student Services. More detailed guidance and information can be found here.
The Government has advised that this position will be reviewed around 18th January and I will update you once this information has been provided.
Asymptomatic testing in January 2021
To ensure those students who can return to St Mary’s are able to do so safely, our on-site testing centre will reopen, on Sunday 3rd January. It is very important that we all play our part in reducing the spread of the virus and therefore we strongly advise that you to book two tests, (the second three days after the first), as early as possible as part of your planning for when you arrive on campus.
The test centre will be open on weekdays from 10am – 4pm until Thursday 11th February. Please book your tests here.
The Government advice is that you should assume that you could be infectious and therefore minimise interaction and effectively self-isolate whilst you wait for a negative test result.
Access to wellbeing support
I know this has been a very unsettling time and as we continue to face into further challenges wanted to remind you of the support available to you should you need it:
The following services are available to all of our students at any time. Togetherall and Student Space are available during the Christmas holiday, providing you with access to 24/7 free mental health and wellbeing support and advice:
The Student Services Christmas Resources page on SIMMSpace gives you access to information on topics such as wellbeing, money advice and more.
We are continuing to follow the advice provided by the Government, they have advised that further information will be issued on 18th January. I will continue to keep you updated as this information becomes available so please keep checking both e-mail and SIMMSpace.
With best wishes
Chief Operating Officer