Accessibility navigation

COVID-19 FAQ: New government lockdown guidance and measures (5 November – 2 December)

The government has announced a one-month lockdown in England. National restrictions begin from 5 November and last until 2 December.

In addition to the general government lockdown guidance, we have received a letter from the Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan, and guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) setting out more detailed information for universities. You can read about the University's response is summarised in this one-page guidance note.

Here are responses to some questions colleagues might have. If you have any further questions, please call the COVID-19 Support Hotline at: 0118 214 7813 (open Monday to Friday: 9:00-17:00. Weekends: 11:00-16:00).

Questions

End of autumn term travel questions

Advice for students staying in Reading over Christmas


What support is available to staff during this lockdown period (5 November – 2 December)?

For mental wellbeing:

  • See the Wellbeing pages on the Staff Portal.
  • Contact your line manager for concerns you have and any support you need.
  • If you are facing challengesor worries in either your personal or professional life and you would like to speak to someone,our Employee Assistance Programme provided by Confidential Care remains available bye mail and online access 24 hours a day. You can also speak to someone from the Wellbeing Peer Support Network.

For any questions or concerns about the lockdown period, call the COVID-19 Support Hotline at:  0118 214 7813 (open Monday to Friday: 9:00-17:00. Weekends: 11:00-16:00).

Support around working from home and wellbeing:

  • The guidance and resources for working remotely page includes information on setting up equipment, keeping in touch with colleagues, staying active, learning new skills, wellbeing support and tax relief.
  • For colleagues involved in teaching, a new section on delivering teaching and learning remotely has been created on the Blackboard 'Help for Staff' website. This includes advice on making recordings (Screencasting) and using Blackboard Collaborate. There are also additional information and resources for teaching and learning in the autumn term on this FAQ page.
  • View the DSE working from home guide for wellbeing advice.
  • Staff working under a blended model of home and campus settings will need to review their formal DSE assessment for their campus workstation only. Login via Cardinus.

Back to top

Can I continue office-based work during lockdown / Do I have to work from home during lockdown (5 November – 2 December 2020)?

A large number of colleagues are already working wholly or partially from home, and the government continues to advise home-working where possible during the lockdown period. The government guidance makes clear, however, that people can go to work where they cannot perform their role at home.

On this basis, we would encourage colleagues to speak to their line manager about continued home-working where that is feasible and appropriate. However, if you do need to be on campus to undertake your role then please continue to do so.

Our COVID-19 Support Hotline launched on Monday, so if you have any questions, please call 0118 214 7813 between 9am and 5pm on weekdays and 11am and 4pm on weekends. We can remain hopeful that this period of lockdown will succeed in lowering COVID-19 cases both in Reading and nationally. Nevertheless, the pandemic is an ongoing cause of anxiety, so do check our Wellbeing webpages if you would like to access the support available to you.

Back to top

Can research activity continue during lockdown (5 November – 2 December 2020)?

The new DfE guidance recommends that during the lockdown period research is conducted from home wherever possible.  

In-person research activities can continue if the research work cannot reasonably be conducted from home or without gathering with others. Where it is reasonable to do so, in-person research activity requiring gathering with others should be paused for the period of national restrictions.

However, on-site or group research activity is allowed, with appropriate COVID-safe measures in place, if it cannot be conducted in some other way and it is not appropriate to pause it. 

To help facilitate ongoing research, our Library and special collections reading room will remain open, both with slightly reduced hours. The Library's Click and Collect service will continue. Our museums, however, must close under the lockdown restrictions.

Back to top

What facilities are open on campus during lockdown (5 November – 2 December 2020)?

The Library will remain open during the lockdown period, with amended opening hours starting from 5 November of 08:30 till midnight Sunday to Friday and 08:30 to 21:00 on Saturdays. The Click and Collect service will also continue. You will have access to the bookable study space in the Library and the non-bookable space in URS and other locations around campus such as halls - all of which is socially distanced. The Study at RUSU will also be open. We will also maintain all our student advice and support services.

Catering and food services will continue on campus, with some changes. The international food market will not be on campus during lockdown. Government has said that all pubs, clubs and bars must close so all our University bars will shut during the lockdown period. Gyms and outdoor leisure facilities are also required to close under the lockdown restrictions, so the SportsPark will also close temporarily. Essential food retail can remain open both on and off campus and we anticipate that The Co-op on the Whiteknights campus will remain open for the full lockdown period. The market place will also continue to operate at Park Eat providing essential grocery items.

Back to top

I am in a clinically extremely vulnerable group. What do I do during lockdown (5 November – 2 December 2020)?

New guidance will be published for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England. If you are in this group, you should speak to your line manager.

Back to top

I live with someone a clinically extremely vulnerable group. What do I do during lockdown (5 November – 2 December 2020)?

The new guidance for clinically vulnerable groups applies to individuals only. Others living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable are not advised to follow this guidance. They should instead continue to attend work.

Back to top

Is face-to-face teaching going to continue over the lockdown? (5 November – 2 December 2020)

Universities are expected to continue delivering a blend of online and COVID-safe face-to-face teaching, subject to risk assessments and in consultation with their local public health team, and to keep libraries and study space open.

Our intention is to continue the blend of online and COVID-safe face-to-face approach into the spring term, subject of course to ongoing developments nationally and locally. 

We continue to delivery face-to-face teaching because: 

  • feedback from our students shows that the blended model is generally working well and that they value face-to-face teaching as part of their learning experience
  • attainment falls when all teaching isonlineand more students drop out
  • online only teaching hasparticular implicationsfor themost disadvantaged students and we're really concerned about the widening gap in opportunity for our most disadvantaged and marginalised students
  • some coursesin particular haveelements that cannot be delivered online such as those with practical or accreditation requirements.

We will review this position if required if we receive more detailed guidance from the Department for Education about the implications of the latest lockdown restrictions for universities. 

On the safety of face-to-face teaching: 

  • PHE says that data shows a pattern of transmission of infection is occurring through households and social activity rather than teaching settings.
  • Therefore teaching sessions do notpose an identifiable risk for staff or students given the safety measures that the University has in place.
  • Staff cases remain low and the affected individuals have either not been on campus or transmission has not be linked to a teaching setting.

If you feel that you are particularly vulnerable, for example because of an underlying health condition, then we would encourage you to review the new government guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people and revisit your teaching risk assessment with your line manager or Head of School to identify whether any changes are necessary.

Back to top

I have students asking me about travelling to and from University during the lockdown period (5 November – 2 December 2020). What can I advise?

Everyone, including students, must follow guidance for the new restrictions in England from 5 November. Students are expected to stay at university and not move between their term-time and home address during the lockdown.

Travelling for education is permitted, so if they are away, they may travel back to Reading for the rest of the autumn term.

If they are commuter student, they will be able to travel to and from university, as travelling for education is permitted.

If students have any questions about their situation during lockdown, rather than seeking to advise them, please direct them to the following sources of information:

Back to top

My student has concerns about their wellbeing during lockdown (5 November – 2 December 2020). What can I advise?

If students are feeling lonely, they may find the following information useful. There are all sorts of resources to help them if they are feeling this way: 

They can also: 

  • checkout theRUSU websitefor informationabout online events they are running
  • join a RUSU societyas many are running online activities throughout term
  • head to the Home at Halls app to see online events they are running (for those that live in halls only).

The government guidance on how to meet others safely during lockdown, might also be reassuring. 

End of autumn term travel questions

Can students move from their term-time address to their family home before 3 December?

National restrictions, including non-essential travel, have been introduced by the government to reduce transmission of COVID-19. This means that students should not leave their term-time accommodation during this period, except for specific purposes, including travelling for education.  

The government has asked all students to stay in their term-time accommodation at this time and not travel home. More information about the current lockdown arrangements is published on the latest government advice page. 

The national lockdown restrictions for England are set to finish on 2 December. While our term will still finish on 11 December, if they are planning to travel for the Christmas break, the government asks that they do so during a ‘student travel window' from 3 to 9 December. 

Back to top

Can students go home at the end of term?

If they intend to travel, they should therefore plan to do so by 9 December at the latest. If they cannot travel by 9 December, the government advises that they should undertake a further period of restricted contact either before or after returning home to minimise risk of transmission. 

The government advice is to avoid public transport where possible. We appreciate, though, that this may be necessary for some of them so we will be speaking to local transport providers including Reading Buses and Great Western Railway so that they are aware of when they can expect students to be travelling. They should try to book their travel arrangements in advance if they can.  

Regardless of this travel window, they should not travel if they have tested positive for COVID-19, or have otherwise been instructed to self-isolate, until the end of their full self-isolation period.  

However they plan to travel, including by private car, please read the government's COVID-19 safer travel guidance. If they are planning to travel overseas, please see the specific advice for international travel.  

Back to top

Can international students travel home after lockdown restrictions have ended?

During the lockdown period in England (5 November - 2 December) remember that there are restrictions around travel, socialising and other activity for everyone and students are only permitted to leave their term-time home for certain reasons

The government has updated their advice for international students and is asking that if students are planning to travel, whether within the UK or internationally, that they do so during the ‘student travel window' between 3 and 9 December. They can, however, travel after 9 December (for example, if they have an existing travel booking) but should read all government travel guidance to do so safely. 

Please also remember that they must not travel at any time if you are experiencing any symptoms related to coronavirus (COVID-19) or they are required to self-isolate. In both cases, it is very important that they complete their full isolation period to minimise further spread of the virus. 

Before they make decisions in relation to travel, they should consider the following: 

  • UK government travel guidance 

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website currently recommends essential travel only. If they decide to travel, they must make sure they do so safely by following the UK government travel advice:

  • Travel guidance for their destination 

We advise that they check both the UK travel advice for the country they are travelling to and travel and entry requirements in place for their destination country. 

In particular, some countries require a negative COVID-19 test result to allow entry. It is important to understand that there are different types of COVID-19 test. It is most likely that the kind of rapid test that we will be able to provide on campus would be a Lateral Flow Test (LFT). They should check the travel requirements for their destination as soon as possible to make sure that this kind of test result would be sufficient for travel purposes, as many countries require a different kind of test called a PCR. PCR tests are available for free through the NHS if they have COVID-19 symptoms. If they do not have COVID-19 symptoms, they need to pay to obtain a PCR test privately. They should ask their pharmacist or doctor for advice. 

  • Self-isolation requirements 

They should consider self-isolation requirements for when they return to the UK as well as in the country they are travelling to. Currently, international students travelling from countries not on the exemption (travel corridor) list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on return to the UK. They can find information about support for self-isolation on Essentials

  • ‘On campus' or ‘at a distance' attendance modes 

If they are considering returning home to continue their studies from there next term , they must also check with their Support Centre or Henley Helpdesk that studying at a distance is possible next term for their degree programme, as there are some courses where it is difficult for students to meet their learning outcomes without being on campus. There is, however, no need to check with the with us if they are travelling home over the winter break period but planning to return at the start of the spring term.  

If they are considering returning home to continue their studies from there next term they will need to consider funding and immigration requirements before making this decision. 

Funding - If they receive sponsorship or a scholarship, we advise that they contact their financial sponsor to discuss whether changing their mode of study will affect their funding. Similarly, if they receive a UK government student maintenance loan they should email studentfunding@reading.ac.uk to check if travelling will affect their loan. 

Immigration - If they are Tier 4/Student visa holder, the University will maintain sponsorship of their student visa providing they continue to engage with their studies and remain a current student, whether that is in Reading or overseas. 

EU Settlement Scheme - EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who wish to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme should refer to our online guidance

Back to top

Will students have to self-isolate when they go home in December?

They will only be required to take further measures at home (such as self-isolation) if they are informed by NHS Test and Trace or the University that they need to self-isolate, or if a member of their term-time household has symptoms.  

They will need to follow any local guidance, keep social contact to a minimum, and take personal responsibility for their actions, to keep themselves and their family as safe as possible. 

Back to top

Can students still go home after national restrictions come to an end if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or get a positive test result?

Regardless of the travel window from 3-9 December, they should not travel if they have tested positive for COVID-19, or have otherwise been instructed to self-isolate, until the end of their full self-isolation period. 

The government has selected the date of 9 December for the end of face-to-face teaching as it allows enough time for students to complete self-isolation before Christmas, should they develop symptoms that day or be identified as a contact (of someone who has tested positive) by the tracing system. 

For further information about when to self-isolate and how long to self-isolate for, please see the dedicated page on Essentials.  

Back to top

Can a family member pick up a student from University after the lockdown?

Yes, a family member can pick them up in a private vehicle to take them home at the end of term. Their family member will not be required to self-isolate because of this. However, they should both strictly follow the government's coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers. They can reduce the risk of transmission by: 

  • opening windows for ventilation 

  • considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle 

  • cleaning their car between journeys using standard cleaning products - make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch 

  • wearing a face covering. 

Can students car share with another students/friend to travel home after the lockdown?

They can share a car with other students or friends that live in their household or belong to their support bubble to travel home at the end of term. However, they should both strictly follow the government's coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers. 

They can reduce the risk of transmission by: 

  • opening windows for ventilation 

  • considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle 

  • cleaning their car between journeys using standard cleaning products - make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch 

  • wearing a face covering. 

They should not share a car with anyone outside of your household or support bubble to minimise the risk of transmission. 

Back to top

Will students be able to use public transport to travel home after lockdown?

Yes, as long as they have not been informed by NHS Test and Trace or the University that they need to self-isolate and no members of their term-time household have symptoms. If they are using public transport they should follow the safer travel guidance. This includes wearing a face covering (unless they are exempt), planning their journey in advance to avoid busy times and routes, washing/sanitising their hands regularly, and keeping their distance while travelling, where possible. 

We also recommend that they pre-book travel by public transport, where possible, as there may be increased demand over this period.   

Back to top

Can a student still travel home after lockdown if they're travelling between England/Wales/Scotland/Nothern Ireland?

Yes, governments across the UK are working to ensure that no matter where they live or study, they are treated fairly and can travel home as safely as possible to keep all our communities safe. 

There is a shared commitment to ensure that all students will be able to return home at the end of term, including where they will be moving between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of the four nations will publish their own guidance, linked to their wider national guidance (see guidance for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland) and will set out clearly what this means for students moving between the four nations and what guidance they'll need to follow at each stage to keep themselves and their family safe. 

Back to top

To support students to travel in a safe and orderly way, in line with the government guidance, we will finish all face-to-face teaching by 9 December. Their last day of face-to-face teaching in that week will be as set out in their timetable, based on their programme, modules and module subgroups. The government has selected the date of 9 December for the end of face-to-face teaching as it allows enough time for students to complete self-isolation before Christmas, should they develop symptoms that day or be identified as a contact (of someone who has tested positive) by the tracing system. 

What will happen with teaching from 9 December?

All online provision, including interactive online sessions for those who cannot attend face-to-face teaching, will continue. This means they can still study remotely until the end of term on 11 December. 

If they're not sure how to access your scheduled online sessions, please see our FAQs on Teaching and Studying

Back to top

When should students return to Reading after Christmas?

The University re-opens after the Christmas closure period (starting on 22 December) on 4 January, and teaching for the spring term begins on 11 January.  

We are very aware that they value face-to-face teaching, and this will continue to inform our plans for the rest of the academic year. We are currently working on our timetable for the spring term and we intend to offer as much scheduled on-campus activity as we can safely accommodate while adhering to current social distancing requirements. This is, of course, subject to any change in local or national restrictions.  

As with the autumn term, we anticipate that students on most programmes will be able to continue to study at a distance in the spring if they cannot be on campus. However, there are some programmes for which it will be difficult for students to meet their learning outcomes without being on campus in the spring term, even if it has been possible in the autumn. We will write to all students on these programmes with more information by the end of November. We will continue to share information as soon as we can confirm further details about our plans, including for exams and assessments in the summer term. 

As noted above, the University will be closed for Christmas from 22 December and will reopen on 4 January. However, they can still arrive during the Christmas closure period and support will remain available for those living on campus. All halls of residence are to remain open, with catering available if required and support for anyone who needs to self-isolate during this time. 

They may also choose to arrive on or around 4 January, when the University reopens after the Christmas vacation. This means, if they need to self-isolate, you would spend your second week of self-isolation attending teaching sessions online only, before being able to attend on-campus sessions in the second week of term (from Monday 18 January). 

Back to top

Can I/a student get a non-symptomatic test for end of term travel?

To provide students with some reassurance they can travel safely and minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19, the University is investigating several options to provide them with rapid COVID-19 testing prior to the Winter break.

We hope to have more information from government on testing to share with students and staff this later this week, so please continue to check your email regularly. 

Back to top

Advice for students staying in Reading over Christmas

Will a student be able to stay at the University over Christmas?

Yes, we understand that some students will not be travelling and will remain in Reading over the winter break. While the University is officially closed from 22 December to 4 January, support will remain available for those living on campus. All halls of residence are to remain open, with catering available if required and support for anyone who needs to self-isolate during this time. If they will be remaining in halls and you have any questions, please contact the UPP Halls Hotline (0800 029 1984). 

Our COVID-19 Support & Behaviour Team will be available outside of the University closure period to support students and housemates of students who develop symptoms or have a positive test result at this time, including self-isolation help. 

What facilities will be available after the lockdown ends on 2 December?

From 3 December to the start of the University closure period on 22 December, the same arrangements that have been in place for our on-campus facilities during lockdown will continue.   

This includes our catering facilities operating on a takeaway-only basis for everyone other than catered students, and our bars and the SportsPark remain closed. One difference from current arrangements relates to study space. Once all face-to-face teaching has finished on 9 December, bookable study space in the Library and non-bookable study space in halls, the URS building and The Study at RUSU will remain available until the Christmas closure period. All other study space across campus will be closed from 9 December.  

We plan to re-open our facilities after the Christmas closure from 4 January in line with any government requirements and restrictions in place. As we do yet know exactly what these will be for Reading, we will update you closer to the start of term. So please continue to check your University email over the Christmas break. 

Back to top

Back to Contents

Page navigation

Search Form

Main navigation