Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Jack Lopresti Jack Lopresti Conservative, Filton and Bradley Stoke

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) a student flat in halls, (b) a student house of multiple occupation and (c) each room within that flat or house is categorised as one household for the purposes of a covid-19 lockdown; and if he will publish guidance on the covid-19 locking down of student accommodation.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

On 10 September, the government issued updated guidance for providers on reopening campuses and buildings to help providers make informed decisions about their provision. This includes guidance on households in student accommodation. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

Student accommodation providers should identify ‘households’ within their estate, within which routine contact can be managed safely. These households will also form the units by which any response to a suspected or confirmed positive COVID-19 case will be managed. The approach to deciding what constitutes a household will depend on the physical layout of the accommodation, taking into account who shares a kitchen or bathroom. A household in halls of residence should generally be made up of those students living in the same flat, or on the same floor, who share a kitchen and/or bathroom, rather than an entire block. Accommodation providers should make clear which kitchen(s) and/or bathroom(s) are intended for each household’s use. If a household within student accommodation is not obvious, providers may need to allocate students to specified households (these households may be greater than 6 people).

Students living in halls of residence, or Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate in their current accommodation. Students should discuss this with their higher education provider, and with the manager of their halls if they are privately owned, or the landlord of their HMO.

If a resident has COVID-19 symptoms, all residents in that household must isolate for 14 days. The department has published guidance on isolating in residential educational settings, available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.

Higher education providers have been asked to aim to ensure that staff, such as catering staff, are available to give support on halls management for students self-isolating or subject to local restrictions. We would also expect higher education providers to continue to provide students with mental health and wellbeing support, which may be provided online.

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