Message to students, 24 February
I hope you are well and that you’ve settled into life back on campus after the winter break. It’s been great to see so many of you back in Aberdeen and enjoying all our city has to offer – despite the recent weather!
This week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon provided an update on Scotland’s plans for managing the Covid-19 pandemic in the future, recognising that it will remain with us for a while to come.
Here are the key points from the update:
- Scotland’s legally enforced Covid-19 restrictions will end on 21 March
- This means there will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings. Nevertheless, the Scottish Government has indicated that face coverings will be strongly recommended in certain settings, such as shops and public transport. There will be further discussions with the Scottish Government in the coming weeks and we will provide an update ahead of 21 March regarding face coverings and other mitigations currently in place at the University.
- The vaccine passport scheme will end on Monday - 28 February
- Existing rules on self-isolation will remain in place in Scotland for now
This is good news signalling a return to more normality for us all, but the University still has to plan to protect our community in line with national guidance.
Our Campus Planning Group is meeting regularly to discuss what the latest lifting of restrictions means for the University, and we will keep you updated on any changes to the current guidance that’s in place for our students.
In the meantime, we continue to have measures in place in classrooms that aim to reduce transmission such as physical distancing and the use of face coverings. And here’s a reminder of current advice around testing and vaccinations which remain our best protection from the virus.
The current advice on testing will change from Monday, when instead of testing before going anywhere to mix with others, the advice is to test at least twice a week and in particular if you are going to a crowded place or mixing with someone who is clinically vulnerable.
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.
If your lateral flow test is positive, you must isolate and report your result online so NHS Test & Protect can start the contact tracing process – reporting via Test & Protect will ensure that everyone who needs to be contacted is provided with the best advice based on their own circumstances.
Equally important is the need to report to the University if you have tested positive for Covid or are self-isolating, via our Covid-19 Isolation/Absence Reporting webform. This will ensure you are supported by your School and course tutor during your self-isolation period. Please report any period of self-isolation, even if you have not had a positive result.
For those who have symptoms of Covid, the advice in Scotland remains to book a PCR test. Test & Protect can nevertheless start contact tracing on the strength of a reported positive lateral flow result as well as a PCR.
The vaccine booster programme was accelerated over the winter break, and all adults aged 18 and over can book their vaccine via NHS Inform.
Meanwhile, if you're aged 16 or 17 you can have your second vaccine dose now if it's 12 weeks since your first dose.
You can receive your second dose by:
- booking an appointment online
- phoning the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week)
- attending a drop-in clinic
Those who have not had a vaccine at all yet can attend a drop-in clinic, call the national helpline number or self-register to book an appointment through the link above.
Finally, over the past month or so we have seen life on campus return to as close to normal as current circumstances allow. It has been great to see so many of our students benefit from the return of more in-person teaching and the chance to catch up socially, albeit there are students whose learning remains fully online, and we remain committed to delivering the best possible learning experience for them.
We recognise however that we are still in a period of transition which may bring challenges, and we want to remind you that support is always available to you.
Our 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 0808 196 2707 (in the UK) or 00353 1518 0277 (from outside the UK), use WhatsApp by texting "Hi" to 00353 87 369 0010
It has been a tough couple of years, but we can now look ahead with optimism that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. For now I wish you well in your studies, and hope that you’re making the most of all the opportunities available to you here.
Professor Ruth Taylor