All students living at St Mary’s and Collingwood Colleges have been told not to leave campus for the next seven days, following an increased number of Covid-19 cases. Livers-in at both colleges may only attend campus-held activities organised by the University, including in-person teaching.
In an email sent to all students this afternoon, Clare O’Malley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), said: “As a result of an increasing number of cases within our College residence, we have taken the decision to ask all students living in St Mary’s and Collingwood Colleges to remain on the broader University campus for seven days from today (Thursday 8 October) even if they are not self-isolating or have not tested positive for coronavirus.”
As of yesterday (Wednesday 7th October), a total of 251 students at Durham have confirmed cases of Covid-19. Out of the 300 residents at St Mary’s and the 500 at Collingwood, approximately 50 students living in each college have tested positive . There are some students already self-isolating in both colleges, and in others including Hatfield and St Cuthbert’s Society.
Students at St Mary’s and Collingwood who are not self-isolating will be encouraged to take part in “onsite activities managed by Junior Common Rooms and societies”. These students will also be allowed to attend face-to-face teaching sessions, and leave campus for “essential trips” such as Covid-19 tests. They may not go into Durham City centre.
Durham University has said that self-isolating students at both colleges, which are fully-catered, “will receive ongoing welfare including access to hot, healthy food, support with essential services and supplies, and continued access to their education online”.
Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the communities of which we are part has been our top priority throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and remains so.
“We have worked tirelessly to achieve as safe and successful start to the new academic year as possible, including introducing a wide range of measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading and developing a comprehensive Outbreak Response Plan, which sets out how we would work with partners to respond to different possible scenarios and which has been approved by Durham County Council’s Public Health Team and the Department for Education.
“We are working very closely with partners including Durham County Council’s Public Health Team to ensure our planning is co-ordinated and we are in very regular contact with our students, staff and the local community to share the latest information and receive feedback.
“We have been actively monitoring coronavirus case numbers across the University community throughout the pandemic and have implemented a range of carefully considered, progressive measures to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. This has included the self-isolation of a number of ‘households’ within our Colleges.
“Having reassessed case numbers with colleagues from the Public Health Team today, we have decided that further measures are appropriate at this stage.
“Effective immediately, we are asking students who are living in our St Mary’s and Collingwood Colleges but not currently self-isolating to remain on the University campus and only undertake journeys relating to their education or managed University activities for the next seven days. We anticipate this request remaining active for seven days, though we will keep this, and the situation across our campus, under constant review.
“We would like to thank our students who have responded to the local and national Covid-19 restrictions so positively and ask for their full co-operation with today’s request.”
Amanda Healy, County Durham’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are working closely with Durham University and Public Health England is managing the public health response to the rise in coronavirus cases at St Mary’s and Collingwood colleges.
“In line with national guidance, students who have tested positive have already been asked to self-isolate, as have those who have been in contact with someone who has received a positive test. We are fully supportive of these further measures as an additional step towards preventing the spread of the virus and protecting students, staff and the wider community.”
Covid-19 symptoms include a new continuous cough; loss of or change to smell or taste; and a high temperature. If you have any of these symptoms, you must: self-isolate; book a Covid-19 test via the NHS website; and, for University staff or students, inform the University (for more information please visit: https://www.dur.ac.uk/coronavirus/youruniversity) .
Image: Durham University