Covid restrictions in English universities to end on 19 July

Restrictions on face-to-face teaching, advice to wear masks, and social distancing rules all to be lifted in higher education

七月 6, 2021
UK houses of parliament
Source: iStock

Restrictions on face-to-face teaching in English universities are set to end on 19 July, from when social distancing “will no longer be necessary”, the education secretary has said.

In line with the government’s earlier announcement that the Step 4 of lifting all Covid restrictions on 19 July will go ahead, Gavin Williamson made a statement to MPs on rules for schools, colleges and universities.

“Key restrictions on education and childcare will come to an end as we move to Step 4,” he said.

The system of “bubbles” in operation in schools, colleges and universities will come to an end, with the NHS Test and Trace service taking responsibility for contact tracing.

There will be “no restrictions on in-person teaching and learning in universities unless students are advised to isolate or impacted by local outbreaks”, Mr Williamson said.

The end of restrictions in education would result in a “more proportionate” system and would aim for “baseline” protections while “maximising attendance and minimising disruption”, he added.

Enhanced hygiene and ventilation requirements would remain in place for the autumn term, said Mr Williamson.

“From Step 4, face covering will no longer be advised for pupils, students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas, and social distancing will no longer be necessary,” he added.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “The government said it would be led by data not dates, but it is scrapping health and safety measures in education while cases are climbing rapidly. The shocking outbreaks we have seen in colleges and universities over the past academic year show that educational settings act as Covid incubators and help the virus spread rapidly.

“Worryingly, it appears the government has learned nothing, and is set to repeat the same mistakes, abandoning important safety measures too early and showing a continued reckless disregard for health and safety.”

She added: “Yet again, the government is shifting responsibility for managing a national health crisis on to employers, an approach that proved catastrophic last time. We need robust Covid health and safety measures and [to] have a majority of the student population vaccinated.”



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Reader's comments (2)

PHE consider this the be the 4th wave and there will be more to follow, but delaying further won't help apparently, we shall see. Next comes the pressure for staff to return to the old way of working on campus, and for those of us who've been working on campus throughout this nightmare that's a concern, as most won't have become accustomed to not barging into technicians offices and workshops making shouted spit-(and virus) laden demands.
To those saying most staff should be fully vaccinated by now, well, the current variant can apparently escape the vaccines. On top of that, many students will not be fully immunised (2 jabs) by the time they return to campus. Mixing a vaccine-resistant variant in a population either half immunised or non-immunised is the perfect recipe to create more variants and potentially throw down the toilet all the efforts made with the vaccine rollout this year. It equates to creating the perfect breading ground for new variants to emerge. One doesn't need a PhD in immunology to understand something that is pretty much A-level biology. Good luck to us all.