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CHRISTMAS TRAVEL AND TESTING GUIDANCE

We will be providing asymptomatic testing for all staff and students at our UK campuses which will enable you to return home safely for Christmas should you wish.  

This means you can confidently return home, with the knowledge you have done everything you can to protect your family and prevent the further spread of Covid-19. Students will be offered a Covid-19 test the days following 2 December, when testing begins.  

 

This page was last updated on Thursday 26 November 2020.

Communications to students

Invitation to students to book a Covid-19 Lateral Flow Test - 23 November 2020

In-line with government guidance and alongside other universities across the country, we are offering students a Covid-19 Lateral Flow Test (LFT) so that you can travel home safely ahead of the Christmas break.

When - Wednesday 2 December until Wednesday 9 December every day between 0800 – 2200. You can pick any time that suits you, but bookings are on a first come first served basis.

Where - Sport Central at City Campus

What – The NHS has put together this short animation about how the test works. Please take a few minutes to take a look at it so you know what to expect.  The test should take around 10 minutes to complete and you will receive a text message from NHS Test and Trace with your results. Current guidance is that most of you will receive your results within three hours but in some cases could be up to 24 hours.

How - To book a slot click the button below. You will find options on when to book, terms and conditions, as well as information for students who may have specific accessibility or additional privacy requirements or need further assistance from Ask4Help.

Click here to book a test now.

Top tips

  • Arrive just before your booking time – if you are late, we will be unable to hold your slot.
  • Bring your mobile phone with you. We will need to scan the QR code within your booking confirmation.
  • We need to keep queues to a minimum, so please do not arrive more than five minutes before your appointment time.
  • Please don’t bring any food or extra bags with you. You can bring along a small bottle of water to keep you hydrated for the test.
  • The booking system may be busy when you first try to book – don’t worry, there are plenty of slots! Please try again later.
  • Check out the Covid-19 FAQs and this Help and Support article on the Student Portal if you have any more questions.
  • If you are on a healthcare placement please don’t worry we’re looking at separate arrangements to ensure you have access to testing and will be in touch with you.

A message from Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice Chancellor - 19 November 2020

The below message has been shared with all students based at our Newcastle campuses.

 

 

 

 

Dear Students,

Further to the messages last week about end of term arrangements, I’m writing to you today to give you greater clarity about the testing programme that we are putting in place for you ahead of the Christmas break.


As you know the Government is asking all students across the country to take part in asymptomatic testing before heading home to study for the last couple of weeks of term. This is to provide you with as much assurance as possible that when you return to your friends and families, you will know you have done everything you can to make it as safe as possible for them. And we want to do everything we can to help you be able to do this.

Testing

We’re working with our partners and the NHS to enable as many of you as possible to take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) on campus. The government has provided this short animation to explain how the test works – please do take a few minutes to check it out.

We’ll be delivering testing from Wednesday 2 December until Wednesday 9 December every day between 0800 – 2200 in Sport Central at City Campus. The test takes around 10 minutes and you will receive a text message from the NHS within three hours (but could be much sooner) after you have given your sample. You will receive a message with your results by text via the number you provided when you registered.

If your test is negative, you should then travel home within 24 hours. Please remember that it is still really important that you continue to adhere to government guidance and travel as safely as possible following the advice from travel providers – hands, face, space. For those of you in our university accommodation we will be in contact with you shortly about arranging a time for you to depart in as safer way as possible.

If your test shows a positive result you must self-isolate and organise a second test via the usual NHS route as soon as you can. If the standard NHS test shows positive again you must remain in isolation in according to their guidance. I know this will be disappointing but it is really important that you follow the government guidance and we will give you all the support you need until it is safe for you to leave.

We are hopeful that the timing of your subsequent tests and isolation mean that you can travel home safely before Christmas.

For those of you on a healthcare placement, you should carry on with your placement until the end of term. You will be able to take a test between 17-18 December – booking for this will open at a later date and we will be in touch with you before then with more details.

We know some of you already live at home and don’t have a different term-time address while you study with us. You don’t need to get a test but please continue to abide by the local restrictions when the lockdown is lifted.

If you have received a positive standard NHS test within the last 90 days we will be in contact with you directly with more information, so please keep an eye out for that message.

International students

All international students are welcome to take a test, but please check with the guidelines of the country you intend to travel to for the Christmas vacation as you may require another form of test to be taken ahead entering a new country. We will be in touch with international students with further details for you soon.

When you can book

On Monday 23 November you will receive an email invitation to your Northumbria inbox to book a test, which will include links to a booking form for you to pick a slot on a time and day of your choosing - slots are allocated on a first come first served basis. It’s important you stick to your appointment, arrive on time so we can keep queues to a minimum, and please don’t bring any extra bags with you. Look out for an email with the title “Important: Book a Northumbria Uni Covid-19 test now” which will also include more details about what you need to do on the day.

Staying over Christmas

Also, please don’t worry if you are planning to stay in Newcastle over Christmas! We will be keeping our facilities for your learning open, such as the Library and Digital Commons with some services reduced during the festive period. We are also busy making plans for you to make sure you have a great Christmas break too. Please keep an eye out for more details on that soon.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a really complex programme of testing, which we are developing as fast as we can and you are likely to have some detailed questions that I haven’t covered in this short note. We’ll be sending you more information over the coming days but in the meantime please do check out these FAQs, which we are updating regularly.

You can also contact Ask4Help for more information via the Student Portal or at Student Central.

I’ll be in touch soon with further details and thank you in advance for your co-operation in helping everyone have as safe a Christmas break as possible. Please do keep a look out for your invitation to book on Monday.

Take Care

Peter

A message from Professor Andrew Wathey, Vice-Chancellor - 11 November 2020

The below message has been shared with all students based at our Newcastle campuses.

 

 

Dear Students,

Further to reports you will have seen in the media today following guidance issued by government today, I am writing with news of two important developments which will facilitate our end of term arrangements.

 

The government has asked that universities work with the NHS to roll out facilities on campuses for asymptomatic testing for students and staff, in order to further reinforce confidence in delivering in-person education, and to enable you to return home safely at the end of term should you wish to do so. Testing is planned to start on 2 December. By ensuring testing is available to you, the government intends that you will be able to make appropriate and informed decisions about returning home for Christmas when lockdown ends. We are now developing and activating plans to enable the roll out of testing from 2 December, with the aim of providing as many of you as possible with tests during the following 7 or 8 days.

 

In parallel with this, the Department for Education has published guidance today on student movement and plans for the end of term. This aims to ensure that students across England can return home safely after the current period of national lockdown, while mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus.

 

In order to travel home safely, you are asked to follow the current national restrictions in place until 2 December, completing this four-week period in your term-time accommodation.  The government’s intention is that those of you who receive a negative test result, and who wish to be at home for Christmas, travel home on staggered departure dates in a “student travel window” between 3 December and 9 December. There are some exceptions to this, including healthcare students on placement and who, as essential workers, should remain in their placements until the end of term. Should you test positive you will be expected to self-isolate for the required period before taking another test and making arrangements to return home. We will of course also have plans in place to support those of you who choose to stay with us over the Christmas vacation.

 

We will be communicating detailed plans for managing testing and the departure of students in the next few days, working with Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council to co-ordinate departure dates across both universities. As a result of the new government guidance, we plan that teaching will move online from 7 December for the final two weeks of term. Until 4 December we will continue to deliver essential in-person teaching.

 

This unprecedented programme of testing is being established to provide you with the confidence that when you go home you will do so without the risk of transmitting Covid-19. When you return home, you can do so with the knowledge you have done everything feasible to make it as safe as possible for your families. Please remember this as you make your preparations before you travel home.

 

The Government’s guidance sets out a number of expectations of universities, and we are currently making arrangements to meet the expectations laid upon us. Detailed plans are being formulated at pace, and we will provide further information on what this means for you in the next few days.

 

We will continue to keep you up to date with the latest information as soon as we are able to. If you need further support, please contact Ask4Help through the Student Portal.

 

I appreciate that these new developments may be a little unsettling, but hope that they gives you confidence that we are working as hard as we can to ensure you are able to go home to your families for Christmas in the safest possible way and to return for the new term in January.

 

Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation.

 

Best Wishes 

Andrew

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE FRHistS FSA FRSA

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

Travelling home for Christmas

After reading the government plans for students to go home between 3rd-9th December, I am very worried how this affects those of us who have part-time jobs up here. I don’t think I am able to finish work and go home until the 20th December, as I can’t afford, nor will my manager let me have, 3/4 weeks off. Can you help me with this please?

Government advice is for students to return in the travel window. We might offer testing beyond 9th December and will advise further on this.

Are you providing buses for transport? Will you help me get home?

Individuals should make their own arrangements as they would normally, ensuring they do so in line with national covid-19 guidance. If they encounter any problems they can discuss with them university through the usual communication channels.  

It is cheaper to travel outside of the window, will you offer financial aid for travelling in the window?

We understand that there may be extra costs or loss of earnings from going home early but this testing process is in-line with a government directive on when is safe to travel for you. As a result we are not in a position to cover those costs.

Do students have to tell the University Accommodation that they are going home? If so, how?

Yes, we do ask that if you are leaving us via any mode of transport, that you let us know. This is important for your health and safety.

I want to travel home but do not want to have a test

There is no legal requirement for individuals to participate in this programme. However, individuals are only strongly encouraged to do so.

I’ve had to cancel my travel arrangements; will you offer support/compensation?

We understand that there may be extra costs or loss of earnings from going home early but this testing process is in-line with a government directive on when is safe to travel for you. As a result we are not in a position to cover those costs.

My home country needs a certificate to show I can travel – will you provide one?

All international students are welcome to take a test, but please check with the guidelines of the country you intend to travel to for the Christmas vacation, or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as you may require another form of test to be taken ahead of entering a new country. 

My travel arrangements are outside the dates you have put in place – what can you offer me?

The Government have advised that students, where possible, should travel in the Student Travel Window. However, we are looking at the possibility of offering additional testing beyond December and will advise in this shortly.

Will there be facilities available at the university over Christmas for those not leaving?

We will be keeping our facilities for your learning open, such as the Library and Digital Commons with some services reduced during the festive period. We are also busy making plans for you to make sure you have a great Christmas break too. Please keep an eye out for more details on that soon.

Will you be reimbursing my travel costs or pay from my part-time job because I have to go home earlier than planned?

We understand that there may be extra costs or loss of earnings from going home early but this testing process is in-line with a government directive on when is safe to travel for you. As a result we are not in a position to cover those costs.

I'm on placement until the end of term, when can I go home?

Healthcare students on placement should remain in their placements until the end of term. We will support those who cannot return home during the student travel window and we will have further information on this soon. 

What happens if lockdown is extended?

We will receive further guidance from the Department for Education and advise students and staff about the implications.  

What happens in January - will testing also need to be done before students return and will there be another travel window? 

Further guidance on this is awaited from the Department for Education. Students and staff will be advised on the process to follow as soon as that guidance is received.

What will the process be when I return?

You will be required to continue to follow university Covid-19 protocols which are updated on a regular basis.

When will I return?

Dates for start of teaching in January have been published but we need further guidance from the Department for Education to confirm what processes will apply from January. We will advise on this as soon as we are able.  

Can I leave after the travel window has closed?

Anyone who remains at university after 9 December would run the risk of having to undertake a period of isolation of up to 14 days at university, if they contracted Coronavirus (Covid-19) or were identified as a contact of someone who had and would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home for the end of term break.

How is the University ensuring we can return home safely?

The university is following the Government’s latest guidance to meet the expectations set out to us. We are in the process of communicating detailed plans for managing testing and the departure dates of students with Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, with the safety of our students being the main priority. 

By establishing a programme of testing on campus, this will confirm whether it is safe for you to return home or not. It will provide you with the confidence to return home without the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to your families and ensure this is done as safely as possible. 

It is important that you consider this as you make your preparations before you travel home.  

When will teaching move online?

As a result of the new government guidance, we plan that teaching will move online from 7 December for the final two weeks of term. We will continue to deliver essential in-person teaching until 4 December.

The following FAQs relate to the new Covid-19 Lateral Flow Test, so you can travel home safely ahead of the Christmas Break.

When will Covid testing of students on campus begin?

Testing will start on 2 December which will allow you to be able to return home for Christmas when lockdown ends, should you wish. We aim to provide as many tests as possible to students.

Can someone help me with doing the test if I can’t manage it myself?

In exceptional circumstances, swabbing may need to be administered to a subject who is unable to do so themselves.

I have heard about vaccination, when will this happen and how?

We don’t have this information yet but will update you as soon as we have. In the meantime, to prepare for this, please make sure that you are registered locally with a GP. You can find more information about that on the Student Portal.  

Booking a test

How will I book a test/where will it take place? 

Students at our Newcastle campuses can book a Lateral Flow Test at Sport Central from Wednesday 2 December until Wednesday 9 December every day between 0800 – 2200. Students can book a test via this link: https://northumbria.service-now.com/healthbook

I was planning on leaving the University on 30th of November - is there a chance I could be tested by this date?

The National Lockdown does not end until 2 December and Government had advised that people should not be travelling before this date, except for certain published reasons. We will be delivering student testing from Wednesday 2 December until Wednesday 9 December between 08.00 and 22.00.

I need additional assistance and have booked a accessible/privacy booth - will you help me with the test?

As this is a self-testing process, if you require any assistance with self-testing then you must arrange for someone to accompany you, as there will be no one on site to do this.

When do I get a QR to code confirm my booking / I didn’t get a QR code with my booking?

You will receive your QR code when you arrive at the testing centre.

Do I need to get a test?

Why do we have to maintain distancing after a negative test?

After a negative test, an individual is still susceptible to becoming infected and spreading the virus. Respecting distancing when it’s needed and other rules is the most powerful way of stopping the spread of the virus.

Why should I get tested if I have no symptoms?

Lateral flow test is designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms (they are asymptomatic), but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others. By taking a test, you will help to stop the spread of the virus, protect other people and save lives.

Why would I take the test? If positive I’ll have to self-isolate. Why would I take the risk?

It is of the utmost importance that we all do our bit to stop the spread of the virus and protect other members of society. Participating in the test will help our country fight the pandemic and save lives. Self-isolation, whilst disruptive for those affected, is an essential part of the fight against the virus.

Will everyone have to have a test?

We urge you to follow the testing programme in place and get tested before returning home for Christmas. By getting tested you can return home safely, knowing you have done everything you can to protect your family and prevent the further spread of Covid-19.  

Do I need a test if I have already had Covid?

If you have recently (within 90 days) tested positive for COVID-19, you are likely to have developed some immunity, and therefore a repeat LFT is unlikely to be necessary within this period. If having recently tested positive for COVID-19, you choose to have an LFT as part of this programme, please ensure the LFT test is not taken whilst still within your period of isolation following the last confirmed test. If symptoms [other than cough or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell] persist, this could be longer than the normal 10-day self-isolation period for confirmed cases. This is described in Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

I am a student on a work placement outside of Newcastle – how can I get tested?

You will need to continue to comply with local restrictions. If you are unwell and are showing Covid-19 symptoms, you should isolate then book a test with the NHS.

What about healthcare students who are in clinical placements up until the 20th December? Can we access testing before returning home for Christmas?

Healthcare students who are on placements are considered essential workers and should therefore remain in their placements until the end of term. They can then travel home for the holidays, following public health guidance in place. Many healthcare students on placements already have access to priority testing. 

I don’t plan to travel home for Christmas/ I already live at home. Do I need to get tested? 

Students travelling home for Christmas will be prioritised, but we are encouraging all students to book a test and get tested.  

Will I be punished for not getting a test? 

No. The test is not compulsory, but we strongly encourage you to book yourself a test. If you do not get tested, you will need to continue to observe Covid-19 protocols as set out by the university and any national restrictions that apply.  

Will international students returning home also be tested?

Yes, all students will be offered a test after the national lockdown has ended.

As a member of staff, can I book a test?

We will be testing students who plan on travelling outside of the area to go home for Christmas as a priority, but we will be offering tests for staff.

I have missed or need to rearrange my test

What should I do if I have missed/need to rearrange my testing slot?

If you missed your booking slot you will be able to re-book a new slot, subject to availability. If you need to rearrange a booked slot you will be able to cancel the original booking and book a new slot.

My travel arrangements are made – I need to have a test on a certain date/there are no slots left. How will this be facilitated?

The Booking System for tests will be opened on Monday 23 November. Slots will be available on first come first served basis. You will receive an email with a link to the booking form

Getting the results of my test

What does the invalid test result notification say?

We could not read your coronavirus test sample. This means it’s not possible to say if you were infectious when the test was done.

We’re sorry, you’ll need to take another test again as soon as possible at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.

You only need to self-isolate if:

  • you have or get symptoms of coronavirus – you’ll need to book a different test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
  • someone you live with tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested yet
  • you’ve been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive

Use 111 online or call 111 if you need medical help. In an emergency dial 999.

See www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more advice.

What does the negative test result notification say?

Your coronavirus test result is negative. It’s likely you were not infectious when the test was done.

You only need to self-isolate if:

  • you have or get symptoms of coronavirus – you’ll need to book a different test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
  • someone you live with tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested yet
  • you’ve been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive

Use 111 online or call 111 if you need medical help. In an emergency dial 999.

See www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more advice 

What does the positive test result notification say?

Your coronavirus test result is positive. This means it’s likely you were infectious when the test was done.

You need to book a different test now to confirm the result. Go to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and choose ‘home testing’ (do not choose a test site).

In the meantime, keep self-isolating. You must, by law, self-isolate for 10 days from the date of this test. People you live with must self-isolate for 14 days from when you start self-isolating.

You should be contacted by contact tracers.

Use 111 online or call 111 if you need medical help. In an emergency dial 999.

See www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more advice.

If we test negative, can we go home for Christmas?

In order to travel home safely, you are asked to follow the current national restrictions in place until 2 December, completing this four-week period in your term-time accommodation. If you get a negative result when tested, you will be able to return home on a specified departure date as part of the governments ‘student travel window’. There are some exceptions to this for example, if you are a healthcare student on placement, you must not travel home until the end of term. Further information on travelling home and departure dates will be provided shortly.  

What if we test positive?

If your test shows a positive result you must self-isolate and organise a second test via the usual NHS PCR route as soon as you can.

What if the result is inconclusive?

You will need to book a re-test which will be prioritised.

Will there be food parcels provided for self-isolating students? 

Yes – for those students who report that they are self-isolating, support will be available.

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