COVID-19 Update: Information about returning to campus

On 31st December the UK Government announced some changes to its guidance for students returning for spring term.

These changes are in response to the increase in national transmission rates for COVID-19 due, in part, to the advent of a new strain of the virus and introduction of further restrictions across the UK. While our campuses remain COVID-secure environments, and education remains a national priority activity, the new guidance is aimed at reducing the movement of people into and across the country at this time to minimise transmission risks. Please read the following information thoroughly.

Latest government guidance for university students

In order to provide you with as much clarity as possible and time to plan ahead, many of you have already been informed that there will be no face-to-face teaching on your programme until the start of semester two. You will also recall that we took the decision on Monday 20 December, that for non-clinical subjects expecting to deliver face-to-face teaching in the remainder of semester one, there would be no face-to-face teaching in the week beginning 4 January 2021.

The government has now confirmed that in-person teaching, placements and assessments should continue as planned only for students studying Clinical, Healthcare, Social Work, Teaching and Veterinary Science programmes. Students on these programmes should return to campus on their previously agreed date between 4 and 18 January. There are also some exceptions for students undertaking courses as part of their employment, or with professional-body mandated teaching that cannot be rescheduled, and if this applies to you then you will be notified next week of when you should return. The government’s letter regarding these changes can be found here.

For all other programmes, the government has said that, until at least 25 January, teaching will commence and remain online. We are informed that the government will keep this under regular review, with the first such review scheduled to take place in the week commencing 18 January which will result in our receiving further guidance. Your department will write to you in early January to confirm arrangements for online teaching and keep you informed of when your in-person teaching may commence as well as what will happen in relation to any missed sessions. 

On campus – guidance and support

While the updated government guidance encourages students to remain in their current location to reduce transmission risks, travel for educational purposes is permitted and the guidance recognises that some students have remained on campus during the break and others may have a compelling reason to return before the start of their in-person teaching (for example because they are unable to study from home, need access to university resources, need to sit their online exams on campus, do not have alternative accommodation or for health reasons). Whenever you choose to return to campus, please ensure that you travel safely and in line with current, government guidance. It is also important that you inform us of your return by updating your profile on Liverpool Life.

The University remains committed to providing services and activities that will provide you with easy access to support should you need it. Those of you who have remained on campus will know that our libraries have remained open, with bookable study spaces, for the majority of the winter break period and online resources such as databases, e-journals and e-texts will continue to be available 24 hours a day. Catering and retail outlets will be open and available from 4 January, in line with tier 3 restrictions, to support those on campus from the start of term, and student mental health support is available.

Tier 3 restrictions

Our primary concern remains the safety of all our students and University of Liverpool colleagues. Part of this is making sure you adhere to national and local restrictions to keep yourselves, each other, and our wider community as safe as possible. It is your responsibility to keep up to date with national restrictions aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.

Following the government’s latest review, the Liverpool City Region has been placed under Tier 3 restrictions. If you are returning to Liverpool you can re-join your term-time household even if you have been staying in a different household during your break, but we strongly advise you to access COVID-19 testing first as explained below. You should also familiarise yourself with the Tier 3 regulations, which otherwise mean that different households cannot mix indoors except in cases where support bubbles apply. Other restrictions mean that, for example, food venues are open for takeaway and drive-through only but shops, leisure centres and hairdressers remain open. More detailed information about Tier 3 restrictions can be found here.

Getting tested

The government has stressed the importance of asymptomatic testing in the fight against the virus. We are therefore requesting that all staff and students on campus, in Liverpool or Leahurst, access regular, asymptomatic testing. The University will offer COVID-19 testing upon your return to Liverpool, and we intend to offer serial asymptomatic testing until further notice. Staff and students are advised to get tested on a weekly basis. Opening hours of our testing facility and further information, which will be updated in the coming days, can be found here. It is strongly recommended that wherever possible, all students obtain a negative COVID-19 test from their home area before travelling. You can find further information on the campus safety webpages. Together these measures will help identify and isolate any positive cases early to reduce onward transmission of the virus to your fellow students, staff and the wider community.

We will continue to keep you informed with further news as we receive it, and we will continue to do everything we can to support you during these challenging times. Remember to visit the student intranet for details of support and please don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. Please ensure you check your University emails and junk folders so you do not miss any important updates.

Please continue to keep in mind that the three key steps we can take as individuals – wearing a face covering, regularly washing our hands, and maintaining a safe distance from anyone from another household – make an enormous difference. We look forward to recommencing your teaching in January, whether in-person or online, and wish you a safe, happy and healthy 2021.

This update was emailed to all students on Thursday, 31st December 2020. If you don’t think you received it, please let us know by completing our feedback form and including your University email address