UNIVERSITIES across the country are currently digesting new guidance released by the Government late last week on how buildings can be reopened, teaching can resume and student accommodation can operate safely.

The “rule of six” does not apply to educational settings with Covid precautions in place, but students are not permitted to gather socially in groups of more than six – unless they are all in one household.

At Durham University, leaders have been working closely with Durham County Council and other agencies for several months now to plan for a safe and successful academic year.

An Outbreak Response Plan is in place, setting out how the University would work with partners to respond to clusters or outbreaks of varying sizes.

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Hand santiser and posters have been put up in all colleges across the university campus

Although teaching does not being until Monday, October 5, international students who need to self-isolate started arriving at Durham last weekend. Those arriving at Newcastle Airport were met by University representatives and taken straight to accommodation by coach or taxi.

They were reminded of UK regulations for people arriving from overseas, including the need for some to quarantine for 14 days.

On arriving at their college, the international students were given detailed information about quarantine arrangements, including the need for face coverings, meal, laundry and post arrangements and the support available to them.

The university has also revised its face coverings policy, so that from yesterday, they are required inside all university buildings, except for those with medical exemptions.

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The gym is available but with restrictions in place

Durham’s Student Pledge, which sets out what the university expects of its students in terms of their academic commitment and wider citizenship, is also being updated to reflect Covid-19 restrictions.

Most new UK and EU undergraduates will arrive on Saturday and Sunday, 26 and 27 September. Many will do so by car and need access to the university’s colleges on Durham’s Peninsula.

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Covid awareness at the university

To ensure a smooth traffic flow and protect safety, the staggered arrivals have been extended to two days, rather than the usual one.

Traffic management will be in place between 6am and 6pm each day. Non-essential car journeys onto the Peninsula are being discouraged, but the requirements of anyone with limited mobility will be satisfied.

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The university is making sure all environments are safe for its students

Adam Deathe, Business Engagement Manager at Durham Business Improvement District, said: “Durham is a city of communities, each an integral part of what makes Durham the place it is.

“The return of students to the city not only provides an injection of additional sustainability into the local economy but also a vibrancy and diversity which supports and develops nearly every section of the local economy.

“Without the students, Durham would not have the businesses and brands that it does. Given the increasing propensity of consumers to shop online, the support of students to the local economy is not just welcome but essential.”

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Adam Deathe

Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s director of public health, said: “Working closely with Durham University, we have been able to put plans in place to help control any outbreaks of coronavirus and keep students and residents safe in Durham.

“A local outbreak control plan is also in place with the university and our partners which outlines how we would respond to any outbreaks of varying sizes. We’re continuing to update this as we learn from any outbreaks, both here in County Durham or elsewhere in the country, and we’ll adjust this response accordingly in order to best protect communities.”

For the latest information from Durham University, please visit www.durham.ac.uk/coronavirus/residents