All teaching in person and library fully open from Monday

By and

Durham University has confirmed that the Covid-19 restrictions imposed for the first two weeks of term will be lifted on Monday. 

In an email to all students this afternoon, the University said all in-person teaching and “wider experience provision” will resume as planned. 

Bill Bryson Library will fully open and the bookings system will be scrapped. The system had been criticised by some students as overbearing, and malfunctioned on Monday, causing students to be turned away for several hours in the afternoon as no new bookings could be accepted.

All planned indoor and outdoor activities will go ahead, and will no longer be capped at a maximum of 25 people indoors.

The University told students it received guidance for the Higher Education sector today, coinciding with the Government’s announcement that ‘Plan B’ restrictions will end on Wednesday, including the legal requirement to wear a mask indoors.

However, the University will still mandate masks are worn in all buildings, saying “the mitigations we have in place remain appropriate”.

“This period of temporary adjustment allowed everyone to settle back onto campus”

Durham University

The LFT system will also continue, with the University advising two tests a week, and requiring a negative test from a University site to participate in any sport. This will still apply to spectators and audiences, who are able to attend events again.

Covid-19 cases amongst Durham students have risen substantially in the last week, with 127 positive lateral-flow or PCR test results recorded on 19th January, more than four times as many as were recorded five days earlier. 

The University recently started including positive lateral-flow results in its Covid-19 data in line with the Government’s decision to remove the need for PCR tests. 

The decision comes after Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi criticised universities for implementing stricter Covid-19 measures at the start of this term

Zahawi told The Sunday Times that he expected universities to “deliver face-to-face education”, adding “there are no excuses, we are all in this together”.

Justifying the initial restrictions, the University said: “To ensure the safest possible start to our Epiphany term and minimise transmission of Covid-19, we implemented temporary adjustments to our Covid-controls for the first two weeks of term.

“This period of temporary adjustment allowed everyone to settle back onto campus and provided us with an opportunity to monitor our case rates, as well as the local and national figures, and ensure that our Covid-controls are appropriate.”

The University also stressed that its Covid-19 guidelines have been “carefully developed in consultation with staff, students and Durham County Council public health experts”.

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