Durham to review mask mandate in two weeks time


Durham University will continue to enforce some Covid-19 health and safety mitigations for at least two more weeks, despite the Government lifting all Plan B coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday 26th January.

A review of the University guidance is scheduled to happen after two weeks, with the University saying it will continue to assess the situation closely and work with local public health experts to monitor case rates.

The continuing mitigations include the use of face coverings when moving around University buildings and in-person teaching sessions, as well as regular LFT testing to take part in all Wider Student Experience (WSE) activities. The University is also continuing to encourage students to get their booster vaccinations as soon as possible.

Students and staff who receive a positive LFT or PCR result should isolate immediately as usual, and should not attend any in-person teaching or WSE events and activities.

“Our collective action will benefit vulnerable members of our community who may be at additional risk of serious Covid-19 infections”

Durham University

At the start of this week (24th January), all in-person teaching and WSE activities had resumed. This came after two weeks of blended learning at the beginning of Epiphany term, which was meant to mitigate the risk of transmission in the community amidst a national spike in Covid-19 cases.

The university also emphasised what counts as a face covering, including covering the nose and both, secured to the head and in good condition.

Guidance for students planning to participate in WSE activities remains the same as in Michaelmas Term. Participants, including spectators or audiences, must provide a negative LFT result obtained from one of the University testing sites no more than 48 hours in advance of the event.

There will be no capacity restrictions for outdoor University events, although indoor events must continue to comply with the maximum Covid-19 room capacities set in place in Michaelmas Term.

As with Michaelmas term and throughout the pandemic, students are encouraged to take two LFTs per week. However, an investigation by Palatinate recently discovered that only 0.56% of students who participated in the University’s testing scheme in Easter 2021 followed this guidance for the whole term.

In an email to students, the University said, “our collective action will benefit vulnerable members of our community who may be at additional risk of serious Covid-19 infections”, and said the decisions were made “following consultation with staff, students and local public health experts, taking into account our local context.”

The University encouraged all its students to get their vaccinations and boosters as soon possible, saying that “having your boosters and vaccines is one of the best ways” of reducing transmission. However, University guidance and restrictions remain the same for all staff and students regardless of vaccination status.

Image: Amana Moore

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