New Year update: teaching, self-isolation, testing, travel, vaccine, MyTimetable, libraries, support

Message to Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students

Dear student,

Happy New Year! 

We hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing winter break and are feeling refreshed and ready for our second half-session. Some of our students have already returned, in areas including medicine and education, and we look forward to welcoming all of you back for the start of teaching on Monday 24 January. 

Teaching 

As you know we asked students to come to campus for the start of the new academic year in September unless circumstances, such as travel restrictions, prevented that happening. We now expect all students, who have not yet returned to campus, to do so for the second half-session. Here’s a reminder of how we expect teaching to look.  

A small number of you may feel that your exceptional circumstances mean you are unable to be on campus for the start of classes in January. Any UG and PGT students in this position can apply to request online study for the second half-session but must have compelling reasons for this. The form for this can be found using this link. Please complete this form as soon as possible, and preferably by Wednesday 12 January, so that we are aware of your circumstances, can offer support, and can inform you about whether your request has been approved. 

Self-isolation 

On Tuesday the First Minister provided an update on the rules that were introduced over the festive period to help curb the spread of the virus. This includes reducing the number of days you have to self-isolate, from 10 days to seven, provided that: 

  • you have no fever  
  • you record two negative lateral flow tests, one no earlier than day six after testing positive and another at least 24 hours after that 

Close contacts of positive cases (including household contacts) who are either under the age of 18 years and four months, or who are older and fully vaccinated (first, second and booster or third doses) will no longer have to self-isolate but will have to take a daily lateral flow test for seven days. If one of these tests is positive, self-isolation is required. 

Anyone identified as a close contact who is over 18 years and four months and not fully vaccinated will still be asked to self-isolate for 10 days and to take a PCR test.  The latest Scottish Government update can be viewed at Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 

A reminder that if you are required to self-isolate or have tested positive for Covid-19 you should complete the University’s Covid-19 absence reporting webform so you can be supported during your self-isolation period. Please report any period of self-isolation - even if you have not had a positive result. 

Testing 

In line with Scottish Government guidance, we are advising that students test immediately before travelling to term-time accommodation, and thereafter twice a week using lateral flow devices (LFD) and before interacting with people from other households.  

Remember you can pick up LFD kits from the Butchart Test Facility. Kits are also available at pharmacies and can be ordered online from the NHS. 

For those who have symptoms of Covid, the advice in Scotland remains to book a PCR test.  

However, if your lateral flow test is positive, and you do not have symptoms, you will no longer be required to take a PCR test to confirm the result – instead, you must immediately isolate and report your result online so that Test & Protect can start the contact tracing process and give you advice as quickly as possible. You will also receive an online form that you must fill in to ensure your contacts are notified.  

The Test & Protect system in Scotland can start contact tracing on the strength of a reported positive lateral flow result as well as a PCR. 

Testing centre 

Keep yourself, your friends and flatmates safe by lateral flow device (LFD) testing regularly. The Scottish Government encourages increasing the frequency of testing from twice a week to much more frequently when socialising and interacting with others.  

Around one in three people with Covid-19 do not have symptoms. LFD testing can detect the virus in those with no symptoms and is available at our Community Testing Centre in Old Aberdeen.  

Travel 

The Scottish Government is aligning with the UK Government rules on inbound travel from another country. This means: 

  • From 4am today (Friday 7 January) fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s will no longer need a pre-departure test two days before travelling to the UK. On arrival, a PCR test is required but there is no need to self-isolate while awaiting the result 
  • From 4am on Sunday (9 January) travellers will only have to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test on day two. This must be bought from a private provider – free NHS tests are not allowed 

  • Unvaccinated travellers will need to continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on day two and day eight, and also self-isolate for 10 days 

Vaccination and boosters 

The vaccine booster programme in the UK was accelerated over the winter break. If you are in the UK and have not had a vaccine at all yet, we urge you to attend a walk-in clinic, call the national helpline number 800 030 8013  - open 8am to 8pm, seven days per week - or book an appointment online. 

Meanwhile those aged 12-17 - with at least eight weeks since their first vaccine - can get their second dose by: 

A minimum of four weeks should be left between having a positive Covid test and getting vaccinated. You can book your vaccination or booster via the NHS Inform website.  

MyTimetable 

MyTimetable opens on 12 January to enable you to select your classes. 

Libraries and study spaces 

All of our libraries are open as normal, but please note that face coverings must continue to be worn at all times, even when seated, unless you are exempt. Our click and collect service remains in place if you prefer to study elsewhere. 

Wellbeing 

Returning to study, along with the possibility of other concerns you may have around Covid, may feel a bit overwhelming for some. Our Winter Wellbeing Toolkit provides information on the help available if you feel you need a little extra help and support. This includes details on the Student Helpline, which gives you access to trained counsellors 24/7 by calling 0800 197 2980 (in the UK) or +44 (0)1452 623 243 (from outside the UK). 

Ongoing campus guidance 

Just a reminder you can find our latest guidance outlined in the Covid Campus Guidelines

We hope this is helpful and wish you a safe and successful start to our second half-session. 

Karl and Ruth 

 

Professor Karl Leydecker 

Senior Vice-Principal 

 

Professor Ruth Taylor 

Vice-Principal (Education) 

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