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St Andrews students’ staggered return and testing to curb the spread of Covid

Students coming back to the University of St Andrews after Christmas have been asked to stagger their return to the town to help reduce the risks of Covid transmission.

The Scottish Government has asked all universities in Scotland to phase the return of their undergraduate students over a six-week period, from Monday 4 January to the week beginning 7 February.

At St Andrews, students have been asked to return to their term-time accommodation only when in-person teaching on their course is scheduled to resume. The request only applies to students from Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Students from overseas, many of whom had already booked their return travel before the Government guidance was issued this week, have been told they can return as planned.

And the Government has also asked all students to voluntarily reduce social mixing for two weeks before they go back to university, and for two weeks after their return.

Teaching will resume in St Andrews from 25 January 2021 in accordance with the Covid Protection Level (Tier) in force in Fife at that time.

Some students will begin in-person teaching from 25 January, while others may be asked to take classes remotely until 7 February.

The University has offered to refund students’ rent for the period they are not in residence if they are observing the Scottish Government request to delay their return to campus.

The staggered start to the new semester will run alongside a comprehensive asymptomatic Covid testing programme under which students in St Andrews will be offered free lateral-flow Covid tests on their return.

St Andrews was the first university in the UK to provide mass testing for students heading home for Christmas.

St Andrews has had one of the lowest incidences of Covid infection of any university. There is no evidence of any transmission of Covid in the classroom, or from students to the wider community.

The University’s response to the Covid pandemic has been described by Public Health Scotland as “exemplary” and a Covid Rapid Response Team model developed in St Andrews is now being followed by other universities.

St Andrews was the first university in the UK to launch an innovative Can Do initiative, a collaboration with the Students’ Association to support students, and staff, with creative solutions and resources to attend and develop educational and extracurricular activities in a safe way. The Can Do initiative supports student societies and clubs to develop Covid-safe activities and socialising. To date this has included weekend brunch events, cocktails in the Quad, online events and activities, all in line with government guidance. All have proved exceptionally popular.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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