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University to offer COVID-19 test to all students before Christmas holiday – University of Reading

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University to offer COVID-19 test to all students before Christmas holiday

Students at the University of Reading will be provided with free Covid-19 tests before the Christmas holiday, to reduce the risk of infection if they intend to travel home.

The testing programme will be launched on campus on 1 December, and will be available to all asymptomatic students and to staff who have been working on campus during the 14 days prior to the test, helping them to safely travel home for Christmas in accordance to government guidelines. Testing will take place in the sports hall at SportsPark on the Whiteknights campus until 11 December. Testing slots will need to be booked online, with the booking system opening from midday on Wednesday 25 November. Multiple testing slots will be available every hour between 10:00–18:00 Monday to Friday and 11:00–16:00 on Saturday.

Given the government advise for students to travel between 3–9 December, tests for the approximately 8,000 students on campus will be prioritised initially. The centre will remain open until 11 December for those intending to leave Reading after this travel window, including staff, students on placement and postgraduate research students.

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Reading, said: "This testing programme is the result of a lot of hard work by teams across the University in collaboration with our local health authorities and partners in Reading. We hope it provides some reassurance to our students and their families, as well as our neighbours in the Reading community.

"We will continue to provide updates and information to our staff and students to support them through these challenging times. We will also continue our dialogue with local and national partners around helping students to safely travel back to university to continue their studies in January."

The programme will use lateral flow swab tests, which are quicker and simpler to administer than standard NHS Test & Trace coronavirus tests, and can provide results within 20–30 minutes by email or text message.

Students and staff who test negative for signs of coronavirus will be offered another test three days later to confirm the result. They will be advised to travel as soon as possible after their negative test.

Anyone with a positive result from the lateral flow swab test will need to self-isolate and book a standard NHS PCR test as soon as possible, to confirm the result. These are offered by appointment through the NHS testing system at the walk-through testing centre that opened in the Great Hall on the London Road campus in October.

Students who are found to have COVID-19 will be asked to self-isolate for the standard 10-day period, and will have the full range of University welfare support available to them during this time. This should give them time to recover from the infection and travel home in time for Christmas at home.

A dedicated information line remains open seven days a week on 0118 214 7813 for students, parents, staff or members of the public to request information or clarification on the University's response to Covid-19. The hotline is staffed from 10:00–17:00 on Monday to Friday and 11:00–16:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

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