By Kiara Davies
The City of Durham Parish Council has released a statement concerning Durham University students returning to Durham City during the most recent national lockdown.
The statement comes after the Council has received a number of complaints and concerns about Durham University students who have returned to Durham City. Some of these complaints include alleged breaches of the Covid-19 lockdown measures by a “small minority” of students. The Parish Council has called these breaches “simply unacceptable”, and has warned that individuals who break lockdown rules are likely to face fines.
The Parish Council is seeking a meeting with the Chief Constable of Durham Police in order to gain reassurances about the operations being undertaken to enforce the Covid-19 regulations. This includes the possibility of increasing the visible presence of police on the streets of Durham.
National guidance, which is highlighted in the Council’s statement, states: “Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face-to-face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days: Medicine & dentistry, Subjects allied to medicine/health, Veterinary science, Education (initial teacher training), Social work, Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled”.
Current guidance also states that students who do not study the specified courses should remain where they are wherever possible and study online. However, there are exceptions specified in national guidance where students “are without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their vacation accommodation”, and “those who require additional support, including those with mental health and wellbeing issues”, or “commuter students, who require access to university facilities to access online learning”.
The Council statement did not include these exceptions in their outline of national guidance but did acknowledge that as only ‘guidance’ it is not enforceable, and has contacted Mary Foy, Member of Parliament for City of Durham, to ask that she lobby the Government on this issue.
This statement comes after Foy, in collaboration with Durham SU President Seun Twins, pushed the Government to refund university students for the cost of their accommodation whilst they must remain at their home addresses.
Image: Beatrice Law