University Student’s returning home for Christmas will be staggered within a “student travel window” to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19, the Government has announced today.
This “travel window” will take place between December 3-9, and will come alongside the offer of rapid test results, in order to deal with the “significant challenge” of the expected mass movement of Students.
The BBC have branded this “evacuation style”, and a “student exodus”.
However, speaking to the BBC, University Minister Michelle Donelan emphasised that this will ultimately not be mandatory: “This is a choice. If they choose to leave after [Dec 9] they will run the risk of potentially not getting home to Christmas with that isolation window”.
Returning home during this period will, however, be encouraged by the rapid test result offered to students, with Ms Donelan describing it as a “complementary element” to the travel window.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries told the Evening Standard: “it is crucial that students follow the guidance in order to protect their families and the communities they return to”.
Marks Polakovs, a second year international student, told Vision that: “I don’t think the plan is very well thought through, and I’m not too sure how feasible it is.
“It assumes that everyone can travel back on their allocated day, which is quite a big assumption, and I get the feeling quite a few students won’t be able to follow it – and if they decide to travel back in the weeks following the “student travel window” then that kind of defeats the point of the exercise.”
The distribution of the rapid test results is said to begin at the end of November, with Universities in areas of higher risk to be prioritised.
It is not yet known if York will be in this category.
All teaching will be expected to move online during this window, but for many York students their studies will be ending for the term.
The Department for Education insists that Universities begin working with their local health and transportation teams, and are urging them to contact students with their allocated travel days.