As we come to the end of the spring term (term two) at Royal Holloway, I want to provide an update on how we navigated another lockdown and our ambitions for a safe return to campus as we move through the Government’s roadmap and out of national lockdown.
The term began on 11 January 2021 and, in accordance with Government guidance, teaching was online only for the vast majority of our courses and for most of the term. From 8 March, Government guidance permitted students on practical or practice-based subjects to return to timetabled face-to-face, on campus, teaching. Given the proximity of the end of term (26 March), this enabled a small number of students, primarily those in their final year, to return to face-to-face teaching. Many students continued to live at their out of term addresses and our research students and staff worked from home where it was possible for them to do so.
A number of students remained living in on-campus accommodation and the university’s library and other study spaces stayed open for students who were either on campus or who needed to travel to campus as they were unable to study at home.
All students and staff studying and working on campus are required to take part in twice-weekly asymptomatic lateral flow testing. We have completed nearly 10,000 lateral flow tests since we opened our Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) with 5,000 having been completed since January 2021. More than 500 students and 200 staff have completed at least one test in this time period.
Over the course of this term seven students who have been on campus have tested positive for Covid-19, this is out of a total of 56 students who have reported positive tests to the university.
Throughout the term, transmission rates on campus have remained low, and we are grateful to students and staff for their support.
The summer term (term three) at Royal Holloway begins on 26 April 2021. We will welcome back to campus additional undergraduate and post graduate taught students who are studying practical and practice-based courses.
We do not yet have a date for when the remainder of our student population can return to campus and so their learning will continue to take place online. Many of our students will also have exams or assessments coming up in term three and we are supporting them as they revise and prepare. We expect to have some further news from the Government on options for a return to campus in mid-April.
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. As soon as we have more information we will update our students and staff.
Government guidance supports students to live or study on campus where they have a compelling reason to do so and some of our students are making use of campus as a result.
Around 1,200 students are currently living in on-campus accommodation. As of 29 March, the ‘Rule of Six’ has been 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. 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.
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.
I would like to thank you for your continued support of the university, and wish you all a safe and enjoyable break over the Bank Holiday period.