College accommodation to be extended free of charge for isolating students

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College accommodation will be extended free of charge for livers-in who are required to isolate past the date that their contract expires. Food will also be provided free of charge.

In an email to all students today, the University said “If you do have symptoms or are self-isolating you must not travel, even as we reach the end of term and you might be preparing for going home.

“If you live in college and your self-isolation period goes beyond the end of your accommodation contract, you will be able to stay in your room at no additional cost and you will also receive food packs free of charge.”

The University is aiming to encourage students not to break isolation in order to travel home for the summer holidays.

This comes after the University urged caution in the face of a spike in Covid-19 cases in Durham. 

The University has urged students to “remember ‘Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air’ and continue to take two LFTs each week to help protect our community”.

In the seven days to 9th June, the number of new confirmed cases in Durham City MSOA (which includes most of the city and University, but not Gilesgate or Neville’s Cross) was up by 32, or 400%, on the previous week.

In the past week, since 6th June, 145 cases of Covid-19 have been self-reported to the University by students, as well as one case being reported by a staff member. This figure includes all staff and students, not just those living in Durham.

Several colleges have a number of households isolating. Members of at least four flats in each St Cuthbert’s and Hatfield are currently isolating with active cases, while members from five out of the 17 households at St Chad’s college are currently isolating. There are at least three cases at St Aidan’s, and members of at least three households in St Mary’s are in isolation.

The University has developed a new testing programme called “Test To Release” (TTR), designed to let people whose housemates have symptoms or a positive test result to avoid isolation. The programme is currently on trial in several colleges.

The system works by allowing students to apply for the programme, who are then tested every day for seven days. Provided that each test is negative, the student may continue to socialise for the period of testing. If they come into contact with another person who tests positive, the seven-day process restarts.

The University has urged students to book their Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible. 21-year-olds and above can now book their first vaccination. All over 18-year-olds will be able to book their first jab by the end of the week, the head of the NHS has said.

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