16 December 2021 - COVID-19 Update
We hope you are all ok and if you’re sitting exams, that they’re going well. This week the Scottish Government presented further changes to the national COVID-19 guidance, to help slow the transmission of the Omicron variant in Scotland.
That guidance does not impact at this time on our current activities and so all research and teaching activities which are planned on campus until the holidays will continue as scheduled, however we know this continues to be a challenging time and we’re writing to outline how it will affect us over the coming weeks and what it means for the start of Semester Two in January 2022.
With the exception of the residences and key facilities like the main Library and the James McCune Smith Learning Hub, the University will be largely closed from 24 December to the 5 January. In the meantime, however, you can get help and information via our UofG Helpdesk. We will be in touch in early 2022 with arrangements for semester two and any further information. As this is an evolving picture, we would urge students to take home all essential belongings over the Christmas break, in case restrictions are tightened.
Changes to COVID-19 protection guidance
The main changes announced in this week’s briefing are:
- Everyone is advised to reduce social contact to a minimum in the run-up to the Festive period. If you are socialising, the number of households in a group should be limited to three and everyone should take a Lateral Flow test beforehand. We would therefore encourage you to observe this guidance in terms of socialising more widely over the coming weeks.
- From 15 December booster vaccinations will be offered to everyone over 18. If eligible, you will be able to book a booster appointment by 31 December. You can get the booster any time as long as it’s been at least 12 weeks since your second dose and at least 28 days since a previous positive PCR test. You can find details about vaccination sites and eligibility on the NHS Inform webpages.
International travel red list changes
It has also been announced this week that 11 countries have been removed from the international travel red list. Other protection measures remain in place, meaning all international passengers entering the UK must take a pre-departure test before they depart for the UK and must take a PCR test on or before day two, self-isolating until they receive a negative result.
The Scottish Government has published guidance for international travel and quarantine. Further guidance and rule changes may be issued at short notice, so please keep checking the latest updates.
Ongoing protection measures
Everyone is asked to continue to observe health and safety protection measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
There are full details about how to protect yourself over winter on the Scottish Government’s website.
- Vaccination – getting two vaccinations and a booster jab remains the most effective defence against COVID-19. There are details about NHS vaccination clinics on our COVID webpages.
- Testing – The Scottish Government advises everyone to test regularly and before meeting with people from other households. We also ask all colleagues and students to take a lateral flow test before travelling to work, study or to events on our campuses. You can access free lateral flow testing kits from pick-up points on our campuses, as well as many pharmacies or you can also order them online.
- Isolation – you must isolate if you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19. The household of a positive case should self-isolate for the same 10-day period as the positive case, regardless of vaccination or test status. Non-household close contacts who are fully vaccinated should isolate until they receive a negative PCR test, unless informed they are a close contact of someone testing positive for the Omicron variant, in which case they must complete 10 days isolation regardless of vaccination or test status. Please see the Scottish Government’s Test & Protect guidance for more information.
- Campus safety - Our main focus is always on safeguarding the health and wellbeing of every member of our community. We will be continuing our enhanced cleaning and ventilation protocols to ensure our campuses are safe and COVID-secure and we will keep arrangements under review and operate in accordance with the latest Scottish Government guidance.
The situation with Omicron is currently uncertain - we should recognise that it may impact on activities including learning and teaching during Semester Two.
At this stage it is difficult for us to predict what the situation will be in three weeks’ time, when we return from the holiday period. We hope to continue with our plans for on-campus teaching but please be assured that we will continue to monitor government advice over the coming weeks and to plan for any eventuality. We will communicate as early as possible in the new year with any changes in arrangements in response to the latest Scottish Government guidance.
If you need support over the Christmas break, you can also access the support and wellbeing resources at the end of this email.
We hope you have a nice break and are able to spend time with friends and family.
Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary.
All students and staff have access to Togetherall a safe space in which to talk about how you are feeling and obtain help with your mental health and wellbeing.
Student Space can be contacted by telephone, text, webchat or email and provides one-to-one support which is specifically designed for students. Useful advice and guidance for students over the festive period can be found online.
Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line offering advice to people experiencing anxiety, depression or low mood. They can be contacted on 0800 83 85 87 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday; and 24 hours at the weekend. Calls to Breathing Space are free from landlines and from mobile networks.
The Samaritans provide a confidential, non-judgemental emotional support 24 hours a day for people struggling to cope. Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free and from any phone on 116 123. The number is free to call and will not show up on a phone bill.
Emergency and Crisis Support
The University Crisis Team will be available throughout the holiday period. Students or staff can report crisis situations to Campus Security, 24 hours a day, on Ext.4444 or via the Safezone app.
First published: 16 December 2021