Student Covid-19 update – April 2022
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued its latest guidance for managing COVID-19 and other respiratory infections from 1 April 2022.
People with symptoms of a respiratory infection
UKHSA guidance sets out that people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and who have a high temperature or do not feel well, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others. Those who are asked – or choose to test – and get a positive COVID-19 result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days following the day of their positive result.
There is some evidence that children have a shorter duration of illness compared to adults. Children and young people who are asymptomatic, choose to take a COVID-19 test and receive a positive test result are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day of the test.
There will be some symptomatic testing available for certain high-risk groups and settings, including for those who are at highest risk of becoming seriously unwell and who are eligible for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatments.
The guidance states that it is particularly important that a person with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, avoids close contact with people whose immune system means that they are at higher risk of serious illness. If a person has tested positive for COVID-19 they should avoid those people who are at higher risk of serious illness for a 10-day period.
Anyone who needs to leave their home whilst they have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as COVID-19, or within 5 days following the day of their positive test, should take important precautions to minimise the chance of passing on their infection. Such precautions could include:
- wearing a well-fitting face covering or a face mask
- avoiding crowded or enclosed spaces such as public transport, large social gatherings and enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
- exercising outdoors and away from others
- always remembering good hand and respiratory hygiene
Reducing the risks of spreading infection
Guidance also sets out actions for reducing the risks of spreading infection within the home, where someone has tested positive, or has symptoms of infection, and provides advice for those living in the home who will be close contacts. This is to help reduce the risk of them passing on infection.
For the wider population who don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, or other respiratory infection or a positive COVID-19 test, UKHSA advises some important and sensible public health behaviours that can help to reduce the spread of infections and protect those around them. These include getting vaccinated, ventilating indoor spaces, wearing a face covering or mask in certain situations and keeping up good hand and respiratory hygiene – such as covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Recent evidence on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron and wearing face coverings has previously been published by UKHSA.
Updated UKHSA guidance is available online
Please do familiarise yourself with the guidance to help keep us all safe.
Given the more limited availability of testing from1 April, it is no longer necessary for staff and students to report positive cases to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students should report sickness absences to their course team.
Our approach to COVID-19 is to minimise the risk of exposure to infection for our whole community. We have carried out risk assessments, including specific risk assessments for specialist areas. Please see our institutional COVID-19 risk assessment and risk assessments for specialist areas can be obtained from the relevant school or department.
Remote working for staff
There is guidance on the IT Services website for working from home.
The government have announced a series of important changes to its response to COVID-19. The key changes affecting staff and students are as follows:
- The removal of guidance for staff and students in higher education settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.
- The removal of the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive COVID-19 test. Adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.
- Fully vaccinated close contacts of those who test positive are no longer required to test daily for 7 days, and the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate will be removed.
- Routine contact tracing comes to an end. Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests.
- End the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
- The provision of free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England will cease.
The provision of lateral flow test kits to staff and students from universities is no longer available. Those falling ill with COVID-like symptoms should order test kits for home delivery until 1 April 2022.
Throughout the updated guidance (February 2022) there is strong emphasis on delivering face-to-face teaching without restrictions and universities operating in line with wider society.
In order to achieve this whilst continuing to take all practicable steps to minimise the risks of infection, the government has identified a series of ‘Safer Behaviours’ we should all observe to protect ourselves and others:
- Getting vaccinated
- Ensuring adequate ventilation for meetings indoors, or meeting outside
- Wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high
- Trying to stay at home if you are unwell
- Taking a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if you test positive
- Washing your hands and following advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’