Students to be asked to take two Covid tests before returning after Christmas break

Students returning home PA
Students will be allowed to return home for Christmas. Credit: PA images.

Students returning to university after the Christmas period will be asked to take two coronavirus tests, the Welsh Government has said.

Universities should also look at a phased-return of students over four weeks from January 11 to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission after the festive period.

In-person teaching should be prioritised for those studying in healthcare professions, those on placements and who need campus facilities.

A plan for students to return home safely before the Christmas break was announced by the Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams in November.

The Welsh Government has said that any student who wants to mix after returning to university in January will be asked to take a rapid lateral flow test, which helps detect Covid in people who are asymptomatic.

Students will then be encouraged to avoid meeting socially for three days before then taking another test. Those who do not take the tests will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.

Students will be asked to take two lateral flow tests after returning to university. Credit: PA images.

Speaking of the announcement, Kirsty Williams MS said that the measures would help bring confidence for students and those returning to education.

"I know students will be eager to return to their university campus after the Christmas break, but will want to do that in a safe way," she said.

"Students will also want to return to learning in person, where it's safe to do so.

"We're putting these measures in place to ensure confidence in a return to learning in-person and minimise the risk of large numbers of students needing to self-isolate during the term.

"The lateral-flow testing programme will also play a role in the safe resumption of learning on campus. A managed, phased return will help meet demand, so that all students can access two tests.

"This will help break chains of transmission, as anyone unknowingly infectious can self-isolate and reduce the risk of passing the virus to others."

The plans follow an announcement for English universities where priority students will be asked to return between January 4 and 18 and the rest of the student population over two weeks from January 25, with Covid-19 tests offered to all on their return to campuses.

Becky Ricketts, president of the National Union of Students Wales, said: "Students now have the certainty they need to plan their return to campus in the new year.

"The continued use of lateral-flow asymptomatic tests will help safeguard students and university staff, and give local communities confidence that the return of students will be managed safely."