Durham University plans to close some LFT centres, by the end of February, but free testing will remain available for all staff and students throughout Epiphany Term.
Staff at testing centres were told to get “as many shifts as possible” in anticipation of the move, which will coincide with the end of compulsory LFT checks for indoor ‘wider student experience’, including sport and college bars.
The University previously told Palatinate that it is “committed to operating our testing sites until the end of February”, but an email to all students on 10th February said that there will “continue to be an onsite testing facility that will remain open and free to use”. Durham also continues to advise students to test twice weekly this term.
The sites first opened for all students in mid-November 2020, and have been central to the University’s Covid-19 response.
The University has been operating a ‘test to participate’ scheme which requires students to show proof of a negative LFT test from a University testing centre in order to participate in Wider Student Activities including sports and entry to college bars, for the whole of this academic year and the final term of last year.
A Palatinate investigation recently revealed that, despite consistent University messaging for twice-weekly tests, an average week in Easter Term 2021 would see just 401 students test twice weekly.
9621 individual students took a test at a University testing site during the term, but just 54 students tested twice every single week.
A Durham University spokesperson told Palatinate on 4th February: “Our on-site LFT testing centres remain open and free to use for all University students and staff, except for the testing centre at the Racecourse which is closed until further notice due to planned works on Baths Bridge.
“We are committed to operating our testing sites until the end of February. As with all Covid-19 mitigation measures, our testing provision is kept under regular review. Any changes will be communicated to our community. “The health and safety of our students, staff and wider community remains our priority.”
Image: Amana Moore
This article was amended to reflect changes in the University’s Covid-19 mitigation strategy outlined in an all-student email on 10th February.