Evacuation style plan to get students home in time for Christmas

Universities will give out allocated dates to students travelling back home safely for Christmas. 

Slots will be given to students in England between December 3 and December 9 to ensure safety for when they go back home, so that the student travel window will minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19. 

This means that teaching will be moved online from December 9. In Wales, students are being asked to travel home by December 9 latest, with their teaching to be moved online from December 3.

Scotland is aiming for the estimated 80,000 students travelling home for Christmas to be given tests before they travel.

Northern Ireland is soon to publish plans for the students travelling home.  

The decisions in England have been made after the national lockdown ending December 2 because “students will pose a much reduced risk to their loved ones and their community”, universities minister Michelle Donelan told BBC Breakfast. 

She said that these timings have been chosen because if students develop any symptoms on December 9 they will have enough time to self-isolate “and then return home for Christmas”. 

If a student tests positive he/she will have to self isolate for two weeks before travelling.

Even though it is not mandatory to abide by these allocated dates, students are strongly advised to go home during the travel window.

If students decide to leave after December 9 “they will run risk of potentially not getting home for Christmas with that isolation window”, Donelan said. 

Universities are awaiting more information on the situation so they can keep students updated.

Kingston University Registrar Keith Brennan said: “We expect further details from the government imminently. We will use this new guidance to consider our approach for Kingston University students.”

Some universities are considering hiring coaches to take students back home. Uk Coach operator National Express said they are discussing with universities to give extra services to help. 

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