COVID-19 update

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21 December: Message from the University Secretary – additional COVID-19 restrictions

Dear Students and Colleagues

Due to the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant, in an update to Parliament today, the First Minister outlined additional COVID-19 restrictions for hospitality and large-scale events, which will come into force in Scotland after the Christmas weekend.

From 26 December for up to a period of three weeks, there will be:

  • new guidance for non-professional, indoor, contact sports for adults
  • a limit on the size of live public events – with a maximum of 100 people permitted when standing at live indoor events; 200 for indoor seated events; and 500 standing or seated for outdoor events. Planned large scale Hogmanay events, including the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party, will be cancelled.

From 27 December for a period up to three weeks, there will be a requirement for:

  • table service at venues serving alcohol indoors
  • 1m physical distancing between different groups of people in hospitality settings.

In addition, the First Minister requested everyone in Scotland to reduce and limit their social interactions between 27 December and the end of the first week in January, staying at home as much as possible.  

Campus services and facilities

I can confirm that plans previously communicated in my message of 15 December, about our on-campus operations over the Christmas break, remain largely unaffected by today’s statement. In light of the First Minister’s comments, we would ask that for the next three weeks, you use the Stirling app to order and pay for all food and drink orders at campus outlets and respect 1m distancing between groups – with groups encompassing a maximum of three households.

It remains the case that students who have ordered Christmas dinner, can still collect orders – either on Christmas Eve at the Secret Santa Event, which will be held in the Atrium on Friday 24 December between noon and 2pm; or, on Christmas Day from Scran, 11am – 12.30pm.

Given the additional restrictions announced for indoor, non-professional, contact sports, anyone with a booking between 26 December and 16 January, will be contacted directly by our Sports Development Service. 

A comprehensive overview of services and facilities available, including opening hours for the library, student support services, catering outlets and the sports centre, can be found at our winter break blog.

Booster vaccination 

The First Minister reiterated that the booster vaccination remains critical to tackling the virus. Please read the NHS Inform website for full information. The vaccination centre continues to operate in the Pathfoot Building. NHS Forth Valley is additionally highlighting booster drop-in clinics this week at Forth Valley Royal Hospital for anyone eligible.

Spring semester and updates

To-date, there has not been any specific or new guidance for universities in relation to in-person learning and teaching for the Spring semester. The Scottish Government has emphasised that balancing health and safety, while making every effort to protect staff and students from the Four Harms of COVID- 19 – in particular, in relation to students’ loss of learning and mental health wellbeing – remains a priority.

However, given the fast-changing nature of the current situation, universities’ Covid leads will remain in contact with government officials over the holidays and our own Major Incident Response Team will also meet to monitor and review arrangements. Any new or additional guidance will be communicated to staff and students ahead of the new semester which, for the vast majority of undergraduate and postgraduate students, begins on 24 January. Faculties will be in direct contact in the new year with those students, including nursing and paramedic science students, for whom teaching or work placements start sooner.

For more information on staying safe and protecting others, visit the Scottish Government website.

Stay safe and enjoy the festive break ahead. Thank you for your continued support and for looking after yourselves and one another.

Best wishes

Eileen Schofield
University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer
COVID Response Lead

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