Scottish students face six-week 'staggered' return to university

Students will return to universities across Scotland in a "staggered approach" over a six-week period, it has been announced.

Undergraduates have been told to resume their studies at home in most cases before being notified when they can safely return to class by universities themselves.

College students, who largely do not move away from home to go to education, have been told to return as planned, in line with the protection level for their area at that time.

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Guidance has now been issued on the return of students in January

The move for those at university is part of a package of measures aimed at minimising the transmission of coronavirus after the expected spike in cases over Christmas.

Students will also be offered speedy lateral flow Covid-19 testing, similar to that offered ahead of Christmas, when they return to term-time accommodation.

Higher Education minister Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish Government, our colleges and our universities have a shared priority to ensure transmission of the coronavirus is minimised for the safety of all in our community.

“We also wish to see students have a positive educational experience in the coming spring term, including a blend of digital and in-person provision.

“The spread of the virus is, however, uncertain and prevalence is stubbornly high in some areas.

"So we are proposing these arrangements for the forthcoming term to ensure a safe return to college and university for students, staff and wider communities, building on the positive work done by colleges and universities based on the experience of the first term.”

All students are being asked to restrict their social interaction for a fortnight before they return to university and for the same period after they get there.

Students who remained in university and other accommodation during the holiday can continue to do so, whilst observing the relevant levels restrictions.

Universities and other student accommodation providers should plan for how best to manage shared accommodation in ways that reduce the risk of transmission of the virus between students and between households, drawing on lessons learned from the autumn term, the Scottish Government has said.

Universities are also being told to provide additional support for any students who may have to self-isolate upon their return.

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