Coronavirus in Scotland: Can students go home for Christmas? What plans are in place to prevent further spread of Covid-19?

Further details on how students can return home safely this Christmas are set to be revealed later today.

In a statement in parliament, a four nation approach to getting students who want to go home for the Christmas holidays will be announced.

It is understood students must test negative twice in five days before they can go home, otherwise they will need to isolate before leaving their respective universities, according to BBC Scotland.

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Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead is expected to outline a widespread Covid testing scheme and further details in front of MSPs in Holyrood – the time is yet to be confirmed.

Students outside the University of Edinburgh library picture: Ian Georgeson/JP Resell
Students outside the University of Edinburgh library picture: Ian Georgeson/JP Resell

On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is "currently looking at the logistics" of using lateral flow testing devices - a new rapid test currently being used in Liverpool.

John Swinney, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday morning said lateral rapid testing is not as “conclusive” as the high quality PCR tests used for testing patient’s for Covid-19, but further details on student testing will be revealed this afternoon.

The depute First Minister said the Scottish Government has discussed plans for students return home with the other governments in the UK given their “shared interest of getting students home” in a safe way this Christmas.

“We are trying to be sensitive to families needs at this special time,” he added, “but we have to take a number of steps to make sure it’s as safe as possible.”

Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland president, told BBC Scotland students deserved the right to return home for the winter break if they so wish.

He said: "Many students rely on the support networks offered by their friends and families and going home to see them over the Christmas period can be critical for their mental health and wellbeing.

"NUS Scotland is calling for a clear plan that has ample lead time, with a strategy including the use of mass testing, staggered departure dates and compassion.

"However, there will also be many students whose halls are their only home and others who will choose not to return home this festive period. We want to see the Scottish government offering additional support to student associations to ensure all students have access to facilities including catering (even if they are in non-catered halls), access to post rooms and mental health support."

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