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JANUARY TESTING GUIDANCE

This page was last updated on 20 January 2021

We will be providing asymptomatic testing for all students on their return to University, as well as staggered a return to teaching after the Christmas break.

This means you can resume your studies with the knowledge that you are doing everything you can do to protect your fellow students and the community around you, preventing the further spread of Covid-19.

Communications to students

A message from Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice Chancellor - 31 December 2020

Dear Student,

I hope you are enjoying the winter break and that you and your family and friends are safe and well.

Updated government guidance to Universities 30th December 2020

Yesterday, the UK Government announced that many parts of England, including Newcastle and the north east of England would come under Tier 4 restrictions from today (31st December 2020). 

In a letter from the Minister of State for Universities, sent yesterday to all Vice-Chancellors, the government acknowledged that there is a need to take further steps to reduce the potential for the transmission of Covid-19 in education settings as students return to University in January.

In the letter, the government requested that universities restrict the number of students returning from January 4th 2021 to the following subject areas:

  • Medicine and dentistry
  • Subjects allied to medicine / health
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social work
  • Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled.

Universities are asked to pause the return of all other students not covered by the above until the 25th January, with further government guidance expected in the week of the 18th January. We strongly urge you not to return to Newcastle at this time if you are not in one of these categories.

The guidance published yesterday does, however, acknowledge that a number of you will have stayed in university accommodation over the winter break, and or may have compelling reasons to return, including those of you:

  • who are international students and who have remained in the UK or who have arrived and do not have alternative accommodation, 
  • without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in your vacation accommodation,
  • requiring additional support, including those with mental health issues,
  • on placements where the placement provider has COVID-19 secure measures in place, and are permitted to open based on the relevant local restrictions and is content for placements to continue. 

In light of this, the University will continue to provide access to the library facilities, alongside all appropriate service support, and IT and study spaces during this time – see further information below. 

What this means for teaching

Some of you do have teaching scheduled to take place on campus w/c 11th and w/c 18th January. This teaching will continue as previously communicated to you.

For the majority of you who are studying undergraduate or postgraduate taught programmes, teaching will commence as scheduled to do so online from the 25th January 2021.

Where there is an element of on-campus teaching scheduled to take place during the week commencing 25th January 2021 onwards, as previously communicated we are at present expecting this to be delivered, although we will provide a further update during the w/c 18th January once we are in receipt of further government communications. 

We are expecting all other teaching on campus to commence on the week of the 1st February 2021, as previously communicated but again we will provide a further update to you during the w/c 18th January once we have received further government guidance.

If you are a postgraduate research (PGR) student, you will be able to return to campus from the 4th January if you require access to specialist facilities, including library resources, although where you are able to work from home you should do so. 

As I have indicated, campus facilities will remain open, including the library, IT facilities and study spaces. All facilities continue to operate with Covid-secure measures in place including: social distancing, one way systems, defined points of access, signage, hand sanitisation points and enhanced cleaning regimes, Please continue to adhere to government guidance and respect the safety measures that are in place across our campuses, such as wearing a face-covering when asked to do so and maintaining a safe distance. These are in place to protect us all. 

Travel and testing

Wherever possible you are encouraged to remain at home until the resumption of face to face on campus teaching, in order to minimise the potential transmission of Covid-19 though travel over the first few weeks of January. We will communicate regularly with you over the coming weeks especially in light of publication of further government guidance. 

When you do return to Newcastle, you are expected to be tested and to minimise social contact until a negative test result has been confirmed. The tests – aimed at those who are not showing any symptoms of the virus - will give you a good level of certainty that you do or do not have Covid-19. If you test positive, then you can isolate and receive support from us, and stop the virus in its tracks.

Our testing centre at Sport Central is open from Wednesday 6th January throughout the month and into early February – remember you will need to take a second test three days after your first. 

We will be in contact early next week with further information. In the meantime, you can consult our FAQs for further information.

In the meantime, I want to wish you a very Happy New Year and please do continue to take care.

Best Wishes,

Peter

A message from Michelle Donelan MP Minister of State for Universities - 31 December 2020

Dear Student,

I hope you managed to have an enjoyable break with your family and loved ones.

You will be aware of the rising cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) across parts of England, early and concerning evidence on a new variant and the extension of Tier 4 restrictions to a number of regions of the country.

As a result of the new developments, we are unfortunately having to further restrict the number of courses that can return to in-person teaching as planned at the beginning of the spring term. This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it is a necessary step given the rate of transmission across England and it is proportionate to the other asks we have placed on all sectors to curb the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. However, I must stress that we remain confident that teaching and learning environments are COVID-secure for those who do return, but in this time of heightened risk of transmission, we are seeking to reduce numbers who travel at the beginning of term and to and from campus.

We are prioritising the return of a limited number of subjects, to those of you training for vital public sector roles in health and social care and education, as listed below. We ask that those of you who are not studying on these courses remain where you are wherever possible, and start your term online, as facilitated by your university. This includes some of you on other practical courses who we had previously said could return at the beginning of term as planned, and we recognise that this change will be particularly disappointing for you. This is unfortunately though, a necessary step given the rate of transmission across the country.

Throughout the pandemic we have seen universities develop innovative and dynamic online learning and whilst we all want to see a return to face to face teaching, it is very much the case that online does not have to mean inferior. The government remains clear that that the quality and quantity of taught hours must be maintained and that all learning must be accessible. Please also be rest assured that I am in the process of setting up meetings with the different Professional Statutory and Regulatory bodies so that we can work with them to ensure all courses lead to those vital qualifications.

For all students not in tranche one, we plan to allow a staggered return to university from the week commencing 25 January, at the earliest. As I am sure you will appreciate, the situation continues to evolve, and so the government will review this decision and provide further communication to your university in the week commencing 18 January. We will shortly be updating the Spring 2021 guidance to reflect this announcement.

Those of you studying in the following subject areas can return to in-person teaching in

line with their planned start of term:

  • Medicine & dentistry
  • Subjects allied to medicine/health (see detailed list below)
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social work

Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).

While we strongly encourage you to remain where you are until your in-person teaching starts wherever possible, we have also asked universities to make provision to provide appropriate support and facilities to the following:

  • International students who have remained in the UK and those who have arrived and do not have alternative accommodation
  • Anyone without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their vacation accommodation. This also applies to commuter students who (if not in the first tranche) should only access university resources if they have inadequate study spaces or require additional support such as mental health provision
  • Those of you who have remained in their university accommodation over the winter break, but we ask that you only utilise campus resources when you have to in order to reduce footfall on campus
  • Those requiring additional support, including those with mental health issues
  • Those of you on placements where the placement provider has COVID-secure measures in place, is permitted to open based on the relevant local restrictions, and is content for placements to continue
  • Researchers and research students who require access to specialist facilities for their work. If research students can work from home, they are encouraged to do so

The university resources that will remain open for those in tranche one and the students who fall into the categories above include libraries, study spaces and performance areas. Performance areas have been included because students who have remained on campus – or who have already returned - may not have access to an instrument etc but this does not mean that all performance students should return to university – each of us must play our part to reduce the transmission of the virus. If students have already travelled back to university then they should remain on campus and not return home.

Testing will be available to all students on their return to university, and you should get tested as soon as you can when you return to campus or access university facilities. Testing everyone will be a key tool to reduce the risk of transmission and outbreaks of COVID-19 at the start of term. If you do not get tested when this is offered by your university, you should self-isolate for 10 days, to reduce the risk of transmission between home and university.

Our advice for international students travelling from overseas for the Spring term is to consider whether you, in fact, need to travel to the UK at this time, particularly if your course does not require you to be on campus from 4 January. Those students should consider delaying their travel plans if travel plans can be rearranged without undue costs. For those who do need to travel, international arrivals must complete a passenger locator form on arrival in the UK, and passengers travelling from a country not on the exemption (travel corridor) list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for 10 days. Your university should advise you of the appropriate local testing facilities at your institution.

We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may face financial hardship. We have worked with the Office for Students to clarify that providers are able to use existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The Government is making available up to a further £20m on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. The funding will be distributed by the Office for Students to universities, who will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates (whether taught or research) and international students. You will be able to apply for this through the usual routes for your university hardship funding.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and cooperation with the measures we have put in place to keep you safe, enable you to continue your studies whilst at the same time managing the continuing risks that COVID-19 presents to us all.

Yours sincerely,

Michelle Donelan MP

Minister of State for Universities


Booking a test

When will Covid-19 testing of students on campus begin?

As a result of the latest national lockdown announced by the Government, we are advising all students to stay at home and not return to Newcastle to their University accommodation at this time.

All teaching will be online from week commencing 25 January 2021, except for a small handful of areas (further communication will follow).

This will mean that most of you won’t be able to attend your scheduled Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests over the coming days and weeks. We will be in touch with you again in the week commencing 18 January with further details about when on-campus teaching activities are expected to resume and you should book your Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests as close as possible to the time you expect to be back in Newcastle.

If you are here already to take part in face-to-face teaching in one of the Government specified subject areas, or have remained here over Christmas, you should book them as soon as you can.

When you do book your tests, you will be required to take two LFT tests, three days apart.

Can I still travel to attend my booked Covid-19 test? And if I test negative can I stay?

We are advising students not to return to Newcastle at this time, this includes to attend a Covid-19 test. If you are required to be on campus for face to face teaching, you should still attend your test and book them if you have not already. We will be in touch with further details about when the rest of on-campus teaching activities are expected to resume and you should book your Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests as close as possible to the time you expect to be back in Newcastle.

When should I get tested?

Two tests are required, three days apart. You should be tested on return to Newcastle or if you have spent the winter break in Newcastle, before returning to campus.

Testing will be available from Wednesday 6 January throughout the month and into early February to accommodate different return-to-campus dates and aligns with our staggered start dates for face-to-face teaching.

I can't or do not want to get a test - what should I do?

We strongly encourage you to be tested ahead of your face-to-face teaching resuming. If you do not have a test, and have not had a positive test within 90 days, then you should not access campus until you have self-isolated for 10 days.

How can I cancel my tests?

A message will be sent to anyone who has booked a test up until 06/01/20 with details on how they can cancel their appointments. It is also possible to cancel your appointments via the confirmation email you received when you booked your tests.

How do I book my tests?

Students can book a test via this link: https://northumbria.service-now.com/healthbook

Please note that due to the national lockdown, announced on 4 January, you should not return to Newcastle until further notice.

We will be in touch with you again in the week commencing 18 January with further details about when on-campus teaching activities are expected to resume and you should book your Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests as close as possible to the time you expect to be back in Newcastle.

How do I cancel my tests?

A message will be sent to anyone who has booked a test up until 06/01/20 with details on how they can cancel their appointments.

It is also possible to cancel your appointments via the confirmation email you received when you booked your tests.

How long should I leave before my first and second test?

The government recommends that the gap between tests should be three days. If you are unable to book a test for three days afterwards, then it is strongly advised that your second test should happen no more than five days after your first.

I am a commuter student / live at home - when should I get a test?

You should get tested directly before you return to campus whether that is to use the library or start face to face teaching.

I need additional assistance and have booked an 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.

I remained here throughout the winter break – I will be doing all my learning online and not planning to go onto campus – should I get a test now or wait until I go back on campus for teaching?

You should get tested directly before you return to campus whether that is to use the library or start face to face teaching.

I returned to Newcastle before lockdown – I will be doing all my learning online and not planning to go onto campus – should I get a test now or wait until I go back on campus for teaching?

You should get tested as quickly as possible on your return regardless of whether you are coming onto campus or not.

I study at Northumbria's campus in London - how do I get a test?

We strongly encourage you to be tested ahead of your face-to-face teaching resuming. The testing will take place with our partner University of East London at their Docklands Campus. We will be contacting you in the first and second week in January to arrange a convenient time for you to attend a testing session ahead of your first week of teaching. This time you will be required to take two LFT tests, three days apart. If you have not already done so please also complete our Christmas Travel Survey.

I’m in Newcastle and intend to go onto campus to access facilities that are essential for my learning – should I get a test now?

You should get tested directly before you return to campus whether that is to use the library or start face to face teaching.

 

I’m in Newcastle and will be taking part in face to face teaching - when should I get a test?

You should get tested directly before you return to campus whether that is to use the library or start face to face teaching.

I’m unable to book two appointments before my healthcare placement starts – who should I speak to about this?

Please speak to your personal tutor in the first instance.

Getting the results of my test

How accurate is the test and the result I will receive?

It is important to understand that no test can ever be 100% accurate. It is possible that this test can produce, in a very small number of cases, a false negative result; and the test result also only tells you that you were negative at the time you were tested. It is also perhaps obvious but helpful to remember that it is a test – not a vaccine – so your test result does not mean you are immune.

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 also self-isolate for 10 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 in both tests, are we clear of Covid-19?

If your two tests are negative, this means you can have a high degree of confidence that you don’t have Covid-19. Its vitally important for you to adhere to guidance on keeping safe - as of course the test is not a vaccine and you can still catch the virus!

What if we test positive after our first test?

If you test positive after your first test for Covid-19 you must self-isolate and organise a second test via the usual NHS route as soon as you can, and engage with our Record. Report. Support process. You do not need a second LFT on campus.

What if we test negative in our first test, then positive in our second?

If you test positive after your second test for Covid-19 you must self-isolate and organise a second test via the usual NHS route as soon as you can, and engage with our Record. Report. Support process.

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.

Do I need to get a test?

Can my housemate take a test at Northumbria, even though he goes to a different University?

The University’s insurance only covers Northumbria University students and staff so unfortunately; we are unable to offer tests to students from other institutions. 

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?

We would advise that you speak to your placement employer to see if they are offering any testing and you should continue to comply with the local restrictions where you are based. If you are unwell and are showing Covid-19 symptoms, you should isolate then book a test with the NHS.

I have had the Covid-19 vaccine, do I still need to get tested?

Yes, you still need to get tested if you have had the Coronavirus vaccine because the vaccination may not provide 100% protection.

I haven’t travelled home for Christmas / I already live at home. Do I need to get tested?

We know that some of you live at home and others of you will have stayed in your time accommodation over the holidays. If this is the case, please book your tests so that you have completed your testing immediately before you resume your face-to-face teaching or return to campus for any reason.

I’m due to start a Healthcare placement shortly – do I need to take two tests ahead of it starting?

Yes, you should take two tests before your placement begins. You can book your tests via HealthBook.

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

While a negative test will give you a huge degree of confidence that you do not have Covid-19, you still need to be careful and follow the same safety advice and local restrictions that we have all been adhering to since March.

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 as you return to campus. By getting tested you can ensure you have done everything you can to protect ourselves against the virus. This means not only following the advice we are all sticking to, but also taking part in this vitally important testing so we can stop transmission of Covid-19 throughout our community.

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.

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.  

Travelling to Campus

Now that we are in a national lockdown, can I travel back?

The Prime Minister announced a new lockdown for England on Monday 4 January. You must only leave our homes if it is absolutely necessary, such as for shopping and medical appointments.

We are advising all students that they should stay at home and not return to Newcastle to their University accommodation at this time. You should not move between your permanent home and student home during term time.

This means that all teaching will be online from week commencing 25 January 2021, except in those areas which are being allowed to continue face-to-face learning by Government. You can read more information about the latest national lockdown on the dedicated webpage.

We will be in touch with you again before on-campus teaching activities are expected to resume to explain when you should book your Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests.

If you are in Newcastle already, will take part in face-to-face teaching in one of the Government specified subject areas, or will visit the campus for essential use, you should book your two tests as close to your return to campus as possible. 

What do I need to do when I travel to the UK from overseas to resume/start my studies?

International students should follow the latest entry rules and Covid-19 guidance from the UK Government for the country they are travelling from.

When should I return?

Following the Government’s announcement on Monday 4 January of a further lockdown for England, you must only leave your home if it is absolutely necessary, such as for shopping and medical appointments.

As a result of this, we are advising all students to stay at home and not return to Newcastle to their University accommodation at this time. You should not move between your permanent home and student home during term time.

This means that all teaching will be online from week commencing 25 January 2021, except in those areas which are being allowed to continue face-to-face learning by Government. You can readmore information about the latest national lockdown on our dedicated webpage.

Will I need a LFT test when I travel to the UK from overseas to resume/start studies?

International students should follow the latest entry rules and Covid-19 guidance from the UK Government for the country they are travelling from

 

If you have been in the country for some time (more than two weeks), we would encourage you to take a test on campus as well.


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