As we move through the Government’s roadmap to ease Covid-19 restrictions, I would like to provide an update on summer term (term three) at Royal Holloway.
The term began on 26 April 2021 and we welcomed back to campus our undergraduate and post graduate taught students who are studying practical and practice-based courses. The Government has given permission for all students to return to campus from 17 May. However, as is the case with most universities across the UK, formal teaching at Royal Holloway will have ended by this point and instead our students will be engaged with exams and assessments, the vast majority of which will be taken online.
At present, around 1,600 students are currently living in on-campus accommodation. The university’s library and other study spaces are open for students who are either on campus or who need to travel to campus to study. At the end of March, the ‘Rule of Six’ was re-introduced and two households may meet outside. Students living on campus have been designated within households. For accommodation such as George Eliot, a household would be around 12 students, while for students living in a Founder’s corridor, a household can be up to 40. The rules are due to change on 17 May when groups of up to six people and two households will be allowed to meet indoors. As the rules change, we will continue to work with our students and promote the importance of students playing their part to manage the transmission of Covid-19 by following social distancing and hygiene rules and guidance.
While current restrictions mean we have very limited options to provide face-to-face support and facilities for students, we have plans to increase what is on offer as and when Government guidance and conditions allow. Our sports clubs are returning to training sessions and we have been able to open outdoor venues, providing seating areas for groups of six and up to two households to meet. From 17 May, our Students’ Union will be running a programme of activities and events and their venues, The Packhorse and Medicine, will open their indoor spaces in line with Government guidance.
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to create a safe campus and all students and staff studying and working on campus are asked to take part in twice-weekly asymptomatic lateral flow testing. So far we have logged more than 10,000 lateral flow tests at our Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) and this term we have introduced an incentive programme called ‘Thanks for testing’ to encourage students and staff to play their part and continue to come forward for testing.
Transmission rates of Covid-19 on campus have remained low, and we are grateful to students and staff for their support.
The Covid-19 Local Testing Site remains available on campus for students, staff and members of the local community with symptoms of Covid-19 and is likely to be operational until Summer 2021. Appointments need to be booked via the government’s central testing system.
The past year has been challenging for us all, but with mass vaccination underway, the opportunity for frequent testing, and the summer approaching, I believe we have something to look forward to. Thank you for your continued support of the university during this period.