We hope that you have enjoyed a relaxing Christmas break and have taken some time to unwind. We are looking forward to welcoming you back to your studies in the New Year.
You will be aware that from today, Greater Manchester, along with many other areas of the UK, has now moved into Tier 4 of government coronavirus restrictions. This will be reviewed again by the government on 18 January 2021.
Government guidance is very clear that we should avoid student travel and mixing at the start of the year, wherever possible, as this poses a significant risk of increasing infections. We will therefore continue with only limited in-person on-campus teaching and assessments on some accredited programmes, for the remainder of Semester 1 in January.
If you are already in Manchester, you should therefore remain here; and if you do not need to travel here in January, you should not do so. If you do need to be on campus, the government strongly advises that you should take a test before you travel here, and then two tests on your return to campus. We will continue to offer on-campus testing for all students and staff who need to return to campus in 2021.
Our University remains open and our Libraries and study spaces will also remain available to book, for those students who need to be on campus.
For Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) the campus will be open and available to continue research activities, with approved protocols in place; however, PGRs should continue to work from home as much as they are able to, where on-site facilities are not required.
Returning to campus
Those of you who have already been advised that you are required on campus for accreditation reasons or scheduled on-campus assessments in January should return as planned on the date advised by your programme team.
Students who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not travel, even if you have been advised that you are required on-campus for essential activities. You should stay at home and contact your programme team from 4 January 2021 to discuss your options and the support that we can offer to you.
If you have an option to return during January but are not required on-campus as outlined above, then you should stay at your current location unless you have another particular reason to be on-campus. Such reasons may include:
- If you are an international student and cannot delay your existing travel arrangements without incurring undue costs.
- If you need to leave your vacation residence and have no alternative accommodation.
- If you do not have access to appropriate study space or facilities in your vacation accommodation.
- If you have remained in your University accommodation over the break.
- If you require additional support on-campus, including to support mental health.
- If you are on a placement where the placement provider:
- has COVID-secure measures in place,
- is permitted to open based on the relevant local restrictions, and;
- is content for the placement to continue.
If your circumstances do not fall within these categories and you now wish to change your plans and return later, please let your programme team know from 4 January 2021. It is important for us to know the date you are planning to return, so we can be sure we can offer the right number of tests in each week.
This guidance will be reviewed again by the government on 18 January 2021.
We are continuing to offer testing for all students who need to return to campus, including those who have stayed with us over the Christmas break, those who have travelled and those who live locally and commute. Staff returning to campus will also be offered testing.
We would strongly advise students to take a test before travelling back to campus. We would also strongly encourage all students to take two tests on arrival (three days apart) and these should be booked in advance online through our testing and travel website.
Read more about testing: Getting tested before you travel and our 2021 offer on campus
At the moment we are still continuing to plan for Semester 2 (which begins on 8 February 2021) in-line with our previous messages. We will continue to monitor the situation closely; the next government review date will be 18 January 2021, and we will issue any new guidance as soon as possible after this date.
We understand that you may be finding this an especially difficult time – with the additional uncertainty and changing guidance around coronavirus restrictions, on top of what can already be a challenging period for many over Christmas and New Year. We are here to support you and you can continue to access a range of mental health and wellbeing services over the Christmas break. You can read more about these on our Christmas support webpage.
Your programme team will be in touch with you during the week commencing 4 January 2021 to provide any further local information and follow-up on any questions you may have.
I wish you all a very safe and happy New Year when it comes! I am sure we are all looking forward to 2021.
Professor April McMahon
Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students.