COVID-19 update

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Message from the University Secretary – route-map out of lockdown

Dear Students and Colleagues

Earlier this week the First Minster gave an update on the Scottish Government’s route-map out of lockdown and outlined plans for the progressive easing of COVID-19 restrictions over the next three months. In encouraging news, the First Minister confirmed that, subject to there being a continued drop in the transmission rate of the virus, COVID-19 restrictions would begin to be gradually eased from 2 April, with most restrictions being lifted in Scotland by this summer.

I can confirm that plans previously communicated about the remainder of the spring semester remain unchanged. All staff and students should continue to follow the latest public health and University guidance. The latest route-map does however enable us to plan with greater confidence for the opening up of our campus facilities and services, our summer teaching timetable and also, looking ahead, for the next academic year.

The Scottish Government anticipate that from mid-May universities will be able to carry out more in-person teaching and, as details and official guidance on this becomes available, we will get back in touch about what this means for specific courses.

Lockdown lifted 2 April – ‘stay local’ message

Getting to a position this summer whereby all of us can enjoy some degree of normality in our daily lives, depends on the gradual and successful easing of restrictions between now and June. The first step in this gradual easing will see the current lockdown end on 2 April after which travel restrictions move to a ‘stay local’ instruction for three weeks.

The Scottish Government is clear that during this period of time no-one should travel outside their local area –this includes students, who must not leave their term-time residence to travel out-with their locality, including over the Easter break.

If, by exception, any student meets the criteria for essential travel (please refer to the  Government’s website) you should inform the University of your plans by emailing accommodation@stir.ac.uk and book a free no-symptoms test via the website.

From 26 April, six people from three households can meet outdoors, with indoor meet ups being kept under review. Additionally from 26 April, it is anticipated that travel within all of Scotland will be permitted, with travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK also potentially being allowed.

Campus services

On 5 April, and again on 26 April, a number of other restrictions will be relaxed which will enable an enhanced level of service or the reopening of some on-campus facilities:

  • The University’s sports centre and pool will reopen for individual activity on 26 April – details will be updated on the website in due course
  • Catering outlets – Scran, Refresh and Nourish will resume an indoor click-and-collect service and sit-in catering from 26 April
  • The library will extend its opening hours from 7 April to 8am-8pm, Mon-Fri; Sat and Sun opening times remain 10am-5pm. A click-and-collect service for hard-copy materials remains in place and study spaces must be booked in advance
  • The pharmacy and Co-op will continue to operate normal opening hours
  • Student Support Services will continue to be available online, with face-to-face support arranged by appointment. The team can be reached on 01786 466022, or on live chat via the Portal.
  • Student accommodation will remain open for student residents
  • The Students' Union services remain available remotely. The Union Shop in the Atrium will be open from 26 April.

International travel and quarantine

The Government anticipates that the easing of restrictions to allow the full opening up of international travel will not be achievable before 17 May and, depending on the global transmission rate of COVID-19 at that time, might take longer.

If you are travelling directly from overseas into Scotland you must check the Scottish Government website for the most up-to-date information– this includes a requirement for managed isolation on arrival in a quarantine hotel. If you are travelling from overseas into another part of the UK, there is a requirement for managed isolation in a quarantine hotel if you are travelling from a country on the UK Government red list – please check the UK government website. Scottish universities are continuing to explore, with government, the option of managing our own supervised quarantine for students and we will update you if this is possible.

In the meantime, if you need to travel to campus accommodation from overseas, you must notify us before you travel by emailing accommodation@stir.ac.uk so that we can understand your circumstances and provide support.

Wellbeing and support

Students can contact our Student Support Services team, and also access the anonymous online wellbeing platform togetherall . Colleagues are also able to use togetherall and the University’s Employee Assistance Programme, which is available 24/7.

With almost 50 percent of the UK population having now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and a route-map plan in place to significantly ease restrictions by the summer, there is a real sense that we have turned a corner.

As ever, by working together and following the latest guidance, we have the best chance of minimising the risk posed to our students, staff and local community and getting back to a more normal way of life soon.

Thank you for your continued support, I will keep you informed as we receive further guidance.

Best wishes

Eileen Schofield
University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer
COVID Response Lead

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