Thursday 20 June 2024
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University: Students ‘strongly urged’ to get vaccinated before coming to Nottingham – and will get weekly tests throughout the year

There are currently 34 active cases - 17 cases among students and 17 cases among staff.

As Nottingham welcomes students back to campus for the start of the academic year, the University of Nottingham has mobilised a comprehensive package of measures to keep Covid-19 rates low and protect communities.

The university has led a nationally-recognised campaign urging students to be fully vaccinated; secured a recommendation for government accreditation for its asymptomatic testing service to identify and isolate cases swiftly; and provided financial support to international students support effective quarantine.

Students are being strongly urged to receive their vaccinations before travelling to the city, wherever possible, and have been told that they will need to undertake weekly testing for Covid-19 across the year when they arrive.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, Professor Shearer West said: “National restrictions may have been lifted but that does not mean that the risk has disappeared. It is imperative that we remain vigilant, mindful of the autumn period which traditionally sees increases in respiratory illnesses in the general population.

“With our support for the national vaccination programme, our successful asymptomatic testing service and the safety measures that remain on our campuses, we are doing everything we can to guard against Covid-19.

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“Students have been subjected to intense public scrutiny over the past 18 months, but the overwhelming majority have acted responsibly and followed the rules. Indeed, currently there are higher rates of vaccination in the student age population than in people aged 25 to 40 in Nottingham.

“I am confident that students will continue to respect their neighbours, and volunteer their time and energy to support our shared community in the city through this incredibly tough time, representing the values and ethos of the University of Nottingham.”

The university’s vaccination campaign, which has seen comprehensive information and advice on vaccines developed by academic experts being sent directly to students and shared across other channels including social media, has been cited as an example of best practice by Universities UK, the national organisation representing universities across the UK.

Figures show that more than 82 per cent of 18-21 year olds currently registered with Cripps Health Service on University Park campus have received at least one vaccine, while 50 per cent are already fully vaccinated.

Nottingham’s Director of Public Health, Lucy Hubber, said: “Young people have been fantastic at taking up the vaccine offer, and there are higher rates of uptake in the student age population (19-24) than in people aged 25-40 in Nottingham. When international students return and their vaccination status is recorded, we expect this rate to increase further.

“The universities in the city have been incredibly proactive at working with us to encourage students to get vaccinated and have been regularly communicating with current and new students before term starts. We welcome the integration of a vaccine offer into fresher week activities, so that it will be very easy for unvaccinated students to get advice and make an informed choice to get vaccinated.

“Currently, vaccinations are not mandated for anyone. We support the universities’ position of encouraging and enabling regular testing and easy access to vaccination as the best way to keep all residents of Nottingham safe.”

The university’s saliva-based asymptomatic testing service, launched in September last year has recently been recommended for Government accreditation, meaning that those who receive a positive result no longer need a confirmatory PCR test and can begin isolation straight away, helping to keep infection rates low.

Students on campus will need to have weekly tests and for students living out in the community, the university has set up a Covid-19 testing centre at Thomas Helwys Church Hall in Lenton, which will run for the duration of the term.

In addition, the university is running a campaign using digital screens, posters and street banners reminding people that while restrictions have been lifted, the risk has not gone away – safety measures on campus include the encouraged wearing of face masks in busy areas indoors and observing good hygiene.

As part of their Welcome activity, students are also being asked to sign a Community Pledge, which commits them to showing consideration and respect to those around them – both on- and off-campus – underlines the potential sanctions for breaching the university’s Code of Discipline, and to agreeing to follow Government and university advice on Covid-19.

The university has joined forces with Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham City Council to spearhead a Welcome to the Community for Lenton and other off-campus areas, which not only reminds them of the need to be good neighbours and the behaviours expected of them, but also signposts other positive ways they can make a difference in their communities.

The university is reimbursing the majority of quarantine costs for both new and returning students from red list countries and is helping those whose vaccine may not be recognised in this country to either get access to a vaccine in the UK or translate their vaccine across to enable them to access vital services.

In line with most other universities in the UK, the university will continue using a blended approach for large scale teaching in Semester 1, with smaller classes, seminars, labs and tutorials being delivered in person, which offers contingency in the event of autumn outbreaks. The university will continue to monitor and adjust its teaching approach, with the aim of resuming in-person teaching in Semester 2, subject to the course of the pandemic.

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