The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that UK university students will be able to return to in-person teaching from 17 May, as per the government’s roadmap out of the pandemic.
Since early March 2021, the government has slowly eased COVID restrictions in a bid to return to normal life.
Vice Chancellor Charlie Jeffrey told students in an email that despite this, the news has “little impact for us at York, most teaching finishes on 14 May ahead of our assessment period”.
The government’s guidance for Higher Education providers says that educational trips can be taken provided that COVID guidelines are followed.
This includes both day trips and residential trips where students can expect to stay overnight.
Indoor and outdoor sports, including extracurricular sport, will also be permitted from 17 May.
York Sports Union have not yet released any plans for sports teams at the University, but they are expected to release these soon.
While students on other courses have been told that restrictions will ease, teachers of performing arts courses at Universities have been told by the government’s guidance that they should consider new ways of delivering in-person teaching and assessment in order to stick to social distancing guidelines.
The Vice Chancellor said that the removal of restrictions is a “positive sign” for Autumn 2021.
Despite this, he said that UK universities may face continuing restrictions at the start of the next academic year.
The University says it has been told not to expect proper guidance for September 2021 until the end of June.
Despite this, the University has made preliminary plans for international students arriving in September.
The University has confirmed that it will explore chartering flights from “key destinations” in order to get students from across the world to York.
It has also confirmed that it will cover COVID-related post arrival costs, including testing packages and airport hotel quarantine costs.
The news of a return to in-person teaching at universities is part of Step 3 out of 4 for the government’s plans.
As part of Step 3, most legal restrictions on meeting people outdoors will also be lifted from 17 May – but the government has stressed that meetings of more than 30 people will still remain illegal.
Indoor venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, nor will there be an imposed curfew.
Despite this, customers at indoor venues will have to be seated if they wish to be served.
Indoor entertainment and accommodation, including cinemas, hotels and exercise classes, will also be allowed to open their doors for business.
The government will also be allowing some larger performance and sporting events to take place, with a limit of 1000 people for indoor events and 4000 people for outdoor events.
The University of York and York Sports Union have been contacted for comment.