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What do the latest coronavirus restrictions mean for students?

Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland began to ease on 17 January, as large outdoor events were permitted to resume.

Mandatory face coverings remain in place on public transport and in public places in Scotland, although they are no longer required in England.

From 24 January, restrictions on indoor events also changed to allow for nightclubs to reopen, as well as putting an end to one metre social distancing, and scrapping table service at hospitality venues.

The University of Edinburgh has maintained much of its original Covid-related policies throughout the most recent wave of the Omicron variant. 

In an email sent out to students, Vice-Principal Professor Colm Harmon told students that the university will aim to continue to deliver “hybrid learning” throughout the next semester, through a mixture of online and on-campus teaching.

However, the Vice-Principal has cautioned students that they may experience “disruptions” caused by the pandemic at short notice. 

Many of the measures put in place by the university at the beginning of the pandemic to help protect students and staff from Covid-19 have been maintained through the most recent wave of the Omicron variant.

Whilst the university is trying to deliver as much in-person teaching as possible this semester, classes of more than 50 students will remain online.

Face coverings remain mandatory for those who are attending classes on-campus.

Jacob, a postgraduate student, told The Student:

“Hopefully I will receive more in-person teaching this semester, but as of right now, life on campus will be very similar to last semester.”

In an effort to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 on campus and in classrooms, the university has recommended students take a lateral flow test prior to attending their class. 

There is also the TestED initiative available at multiple locations across the university, which is a testing scheme that collects saliva samples from asymptomatic students to be tested for Covid-19.

The aim of TestED is to detect asymptomatic cases within the university population, whilst also allowing for more accessible testing.

Regular testing will ensure that students can remain safe on-campus and in the classroom. 

Research is still being done into the effectiveness of lateral flow tests in detecting Covid-19 – particularly the Omicron variant – however the university recommends that symptomatic students who receive a negative lateral flow test stay at home.

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