By Chloe Olivia Sladden
The government designated travel windows for students to get home for Christmas ended on 9th December, teaching will now be moved online for the rest of the semester. Most student timetables for semester b will be announced on 8 January, a few weeks before the new semester begins.
A asymptomatic testing unit was built on the College Lane campus to accommodate the thousands of students, who wanted to be tested before they returned home.
On 9 December, it was reported that almost 3,000 students and staff members (who had no known covid symptoms) were tested. Only 0.18% of students and staff tested positive for the virus (which is less than the national average) while 95% tested negative. Bookings for Covid tests will continue until the 18 December (particularly for placement students).
University of Hertfordshire Vice Chancellor, Quintin McKellar said: “[It] has taken a huge collective effort of hard work across the institution and our commitment to the safety of our community and the front-line national fight against COVID-19 remains a key priority”.
“We have continued to invest and work incredibly hard to provide a COVID-secure environment to minimise the risk of the Coronavirus to staff, students and the local community. We have maintained a consistently low number of infections within our community. We have maintained a consistently low number of infections within our community and there has been no student to staff transfer cases recorded so far”.
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has been working closely with the University to get the asymptomatic testing programme up and running, so that students can safely travel home to spend Christmas with their families.
Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire, Jim McManus said: “The huge uptake by students and staff is a testament to everyone’s determination to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all those involved in the collective effort, especially the University and Welwyn Hatfield Council partners.
“While the programme has helped minimise the immediate risk of transmission to friends and family, it is vital that all students leaving, and returning to the county continue to play their part during the festive season. The virus is still prevalent in our communities, so we all must work to protect ourselves and those around us by keeping up the basics of washing hands, wearing a face covering in public and social distancing”.
The asymptomatic testing unit will take a temporary break over Christmas and will resume on the 4 January, to begin a phased return of students onto both campuses, who Professor Quintin McKellar said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming back”.