Exeter University to test '50,000 students' for coronavirus as they return in January

Exeter University's Streatham Campus.
The University of Exeter's Streatham Campus. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service

All University of Exeter students are being asked to take a coronavirus test as soon as possible when they return to campus in the new year.

The university will be offering free tests to all students, including postgraduate researchers, between January 4 and February 5. The tests will be available at centres on the Streatham and Penryn campuses.

The university is recommending all students book a test for when they arrive in their term-time homes, before they start any in-person learning or use study and social spaces on campus. It says students should plan to take two Covid-19 tests and self-isolate until they receive a result.

Mike Shore-Nye, Registrar and Secretary, said: “Only by testing can we identify those who are positive and support them to isolate, and this is how we can keep each other safe, avoid further outbreaks and find ways to return to a more normal university life. If you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 90 days, there is no need for you to take another test.

“Students should plan to take two Covid-19 tests before beginning in-person teaching.”

Speaking at a Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting in December, Sean Fielding, Director of Innovation, Impact and Business, said the university will do 50,000 tests in January.

He added: "We don’t want people coming into the city and creating an infection risk. The return of students will be staggered and there will be a testing schedule as and when they arrive. Every student will be asked to do two tests.”

Examinations for some students begin on January 4, with all exams online, and teaching begins for all students on January 11, but for many students this will initially be online-only

Government guidance adds: “The return of students should be staggered over five weeks – this is to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students, with practical and placement students returning first.

"All students should be offered testing on return to university and students who returned home over the winter break should not be encouraged to return to their term-time accommodation until their face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume."

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