Sheffield universities report more than 850 Covid-19 cases

Sheffield Hallam says it is moving more teaching online in response to growing outbreak

October 5, 2020
Sheffield,
Source: iStock
Sheffield city centre

Sheffield’s two universities have reported more than 850 confirmed cases of Covid-19 between them, according to the latest figures.

The University of Sheffield said 474 students had been diagnosed with coronavirus since 28 September, with 90 cases recorded on 4 October alone. In addition, it has recorded five staff cases, three of which were reported over the weekend.

Nearby Sheffield Hallam University has recorded 336 cases during the same time period, with 65 new cases on 4 October. This brings the total number of cases at Sheffield Hallam since 21 September to 372, including four staff cases.

Hallam said on 5 October that “in light of the increasing national and local transmissions, the university had decided to increase the proportion of online teaching for the next two weeks”.

In a statement, the university said the “temporary measure” meant that university buildings would remain open and students would retain at least some on-campus teaching, along with access to specialist and study facilities to support practical activities.

“We have significant measures in place to help to keep the campus safe and are confident that these measures are appropriate and sensible,” the statement said. The university said it would keep the position “under regular review”.

Other universities such as Manchester Metropolitan University, where 1,700 students have had to quarantine after 127 students tested positive, and Aberystwyth University, have shifted some teaching online in response to the virus.

A Hallam spokeswoman said the university was “working closely with our partner accommodation providers to keep students safe while providing a range of support for those self-isolating, including food packages, well-being support and access to medicine for those that need it”.

A University of Sheffield spokeswoman said affected students and their households were quarantining according to government guidelines. “The university has robust processes and procedures in place for positive cases, including tracking and tracing to reduce onward transmission, communications to relevant staff and students and cleaning of affected areas where appropriate,” the spokeswoman said.

The university said it was in regular contact with Sheffield City Council, Public Health England and other partners and was offering extra support for students isolating in university accommodation, such as daily check-ins on students who are symptomatic and a “range of online residence life activities to support engagement and community building”.

According to the university, currently “on-campus teaching volume is around 20 per cent of what we would normally provide, with the rest being delivered digitally”.

The latest data emerged after Northumbria University reported 770 cases of Covid-19. Over the weekend, the university clarified that this was the cumulative number since the start of term in mid-September. The latest self-reported daily tally was 78 on 2 October, which the institution said was the “lowest daily figure for five days”.

Neighbouring Newcastle University said 94 of its students, and seven members of staff, had tested positive for Covid-19 during the period 25 September to 1 October, but it has not updated its figures since.

Universities across the UK have been reporting rising cases as students return to campus. The number of cases at the University of Edinburgh rose to 268 on 5 October, up by 24 since the previous day.

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

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