RETURN OF STUDENTS TO NOTTINGHAM A FACTOR IN COVID-19 RISE
Writing in the Nottingham Post on Wednesday 7 October 2020, Peter Hennessy reported that, although students are welcome in Nottingham, the council's leader has said that their return has been a factor in the rise of Covid-19 cases, and they are being asked to 'moderate behaviour' as the city is likely to go into lockdown this week. ...
University students urged to 'moderate behaviour' as Nottingham is set to go into lockdown
Students are welcome in Nottingham, says city council leader, but their return has been a factor in cases surging
University students returning to Nottingham for the start of a new academic year have contributed to a spike in coronavirus cases, according to the leader of Nottingham City Council.
David Mellen told Nottinghamshire Live students are very welcome in the city, but has urged them to stick to their social bubbles in order to halt a spike in cases.
It comes as the city looks set to have new restrictions imposed on it by the Government this week in an attempt to manage the surge in positive tests.
He said: "Quite a number of the new cases have been from people aged between 18 and 22 and universities have obviously gone back and that is a factor.
"I think it's very difficult when you have 45,000 students in Nottingham, when those people return there is going to be an increase.
"We are working very closely with the universities. I think there is always a possibility that [universities] could have done more.
"There is a lot more testing taking place, at the end of the day, there is a lot of things that can be done on campus but you lose the ability to control their behaviour when they are out and about."
The University of Nottingham has recently confirmed more than 400 students had tested positive for Covid-19.
Of the 425 confirmed cases amongst students, 106 are in university halls, 93 are in purpose-built student accommodation and 226 are in private accomodation.
Eight members of staff are also isolating after testing positive for the virus.
Nottingham currently has the fifth highest infection rate in the country, standing at 440.1 per every 100,000 people in the city.
Cllr Mellen has also issued a message to Nottingham's students, ahead of the new restrictions being introduced.
"You are very welcome here," he said.
"Our universities and its students are a very important part of our city. We think it is a good place to be a student, however, we would ask you to think very carefully about the behaviours you are using.
"We'd encourage you to stay within your social bubbles, because we know that a number of students have tested positive. Although you might not get this virus badly, there are other people within our community who are more vulnerable, people who have underlying health conditions.
"I would ask you to moderate your behaviour in order for us to reduce this increase and keep people safe."
A Nottingham Trent University spokesperson said: “We regularly share the latest advice and guidance with all new and returning students and they understand that they – like everyone – have a crucial role to play in always following the rules and limiting the spread of this virus.
“While the vast majority of our students always follow the rules, our code of behaviour was updated to reflect the fact that students need to comply with this guidance and where we have evidence of them not doing so there could be consequences under our disciplinary processes, including fines and exclusion.
“NTU is following all Government guidance in relation to this pandemic. The university is undertaking a mix of on-campus teaching and online learning and there are a range of comprehensive and robust safety measures in place across all our campuses.”
A University of Nottingham spokesperson added: “Everyone in our city has a part to play in helping to reduce the spread of the coronavirus infection and we have been very clear with our students on their responsibilities around protecting themselves and others by following Government guidelines.
“We continue to work alongside local partners such as Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Trent University and Nottinghamshire Police to ensure we all take the right precautions and have shared the latest Council message with our University community.
“The University has been proactive in recognising the importance of monitoring the presence of the virus in our community. We are one of a handful of UK universities to have invested in our own in-house testing service specifically designed to identify asymptomatic transmission amongst students and staff, which will allow us to identify cases earlier than the national system, reduce potential spread and help keep our university and the wider community safe.
“In addition to the measures we have put into place to make our campuses COVID-secure, we are encouraging early awareness of symptoms among our University staff and students and are supporting them in promptly and closely following Government regulations. Clear guidance has been communicated to them on what to do if they exhibit symptoms and how to isolate, inform the University and book a test.
"Although our students are doing the right thing, under our student Code of Conduct there are serious consequences for any students who do not obey the rules, including disciplinary action, fines and campus sanctions – in addition to police fines."