COVID-19 Guidance for Students

We hope this page helps students with any queries or concerns you might have related to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please also see the Homerton College COVID-19 Induction Talk 2021. Students should contact the Senior Tutor if your specific question is not addressed below.

Find out more about National Government guidelines and the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni scheme regarding COVID-19. 

Students are encouraged to share feedback on how we can improve support in college during this challenging time. To help keep the College community safe, students are also able to anonymously report any COVID related issues using the Student Feedback Form.

Homerton restrictions and support

As members of Colleges, the University, and the local community, we have a responsibility to limit the spread of the virus. To ensure the safety of our community, the college will be using a four-tiered system of protection, with each tier having more stringent controls to mitigate infections, as shown in the figure below.

The current situation is much better than it was before, and these restrictions are in place to hopefully allow us to have a more normal experience this year. We hope, by living carefully and following these minor restrictions, it can allow us to keep hall and the Griffin bar open, and host the social events that you all enjoy, including your much missed bops.

Current risk level –  AMBER (with mandatory face coverings)

This means that all in-person social and academic activities are going ahead as planned. However:

  • Face coverings are now mandatory for all students, staff and visitors in all indoor communal spaces and shared offices including when moving through corridors and across communal rooms. They are not required when outdoors, eating or drinking, nor if a person is exempt from wearing a face covering.
  • All attendees at large gatherings, such as Christmas formal halls, will be required to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test result on the door.
  • No overnight guests (11pm-7am) will be permitted in college accommodation for the first two weeks of term, when this restriction shall be reviewed. As such, all guests must vacate the accommodation by 11pm. We understand that this restriction may be upsetting for many of you. However, this restriction stems from recent events at the University regarding guests testing positive during their overnight stays at colleges. It has become evident that we as a college cannot provide the support necessary in such scenarios, and must mitigate the distress this would cause to those involved, including the wider household. We appreciate your understanding on this and hope to release this restriction once test data is available from the first two weeks of term.

What can you do?

Get vaccinated

High levels of vaccination amongst students were critical in limiting the impact of the ‘Delta variant’ at the University last term.  It is increasingly clear that, whilst two doses of vaccine offer only limited protection against infection with the Omicron variant, this is markedly enhanced by a booster dose. If you have not done so already, we therefore strongly recommend that you register to receive your booster as soon as possible.

If you have not yet received a vaccination, we would strongly encourage you to do so. You can book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments on the NHS website. Walk-in clinics are also available for vaccinations without a booking. Information on walk-in clinics in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is available online.

If you are not yet registered with a local GP, please do so as soon as you can. Information on this can be found on the NHS website. This will ensure that if you need medical assistance, you are able to see a GP in Cambridge and won’t need to go to A&E to seek assistance for something that a GP could treat. Remember that Sandy Chambers, the College Health Advisor, is able to offer health advice and information too. To book an appointment with Sandy, follow this link.

If you develop any cold or flu symptoms, the college asks that you self-isolate straight away and get a PCR test (a test that is sent to the lab) as soon as possible. Lateral Flow Tests are often too inaccurate. It is vital that you do this to eliminate COVID-19 as an option, and do not simply assume your symptoms are that of a cold/flu. Please notify the porters and the Homerton Isolation Team immediately upon feeling ill or entering isolation.

Protect each other

It is important to understand that no vaccine is 100% effective and we need to continue to take the following simple measures to reduce the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19: 

  • COVID-19 is most commonly spread through close contact with an infected person. If an infected person is close, they can spread the virus via respiratory droplets which are produced when they breathe, cough, sneeze, talk or sing. Limiting close contact and wearing face coverings can reduce this risk.
  • Socialise outside if you can, and make sure rooms are well ventilated, for example by opening windows.
  • It is less common to catch COVID-19 via contact with a contaminated surface but it is possible to be infected if you touch a surface contaminated with the virus and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth. Hand washing with soap and water/ using hand sanitiser remains important.

Get tested

Asymptomatic screening programme

Since the end of Michaelmas Term, you’ll be aware of the dramatic rise in cases of Covid-19 locally and nationally due to the emergence of the ‘Omicron variant’. To tackle this, the asymptomatic screening programme is to restart from Monday 17th January, including both PCR and Lateral Flow tests (LFTs). This means that you should use LFTs before returning to Cambridge and when appropriate while you’re here - for instance, if you’re attending an event such as formal hall. The University we be offering PCR-based asymptomatic screening for at least the first two weeks of term. Though the University will continue its screening programme, it is essential that you have your own supply of LFTs to ensure one is always available when necessary. Details on how to obtain LFTs is provided through the following government website.

Together, this will help us to minimise introductions of the virus to the University. If you volunteered for the screening programme last term, you will automatically be enrolled again. If you were not previously enrolled, please sign-up in advance using the online form. If you are not eligible to participate (for example, students in private accommodation who are unable to form a ‘testing pool’), we recommend that you instead take part in twice-weekly screening using LFTs.

 With regard to isolation rules, please note:

  • If you are asymptomatic, you will no longer be required to take a PCR test following a positive LFT (lateral flow test). Anyone who has symptoms will still need to take a PCR test and is required to self-isolate immediately and stay in-situ until the test result is received.
  • Anyone who receives a positive result from any test must self-isolate.  These rules apply to all, regardless of your vaccination status.  You can stop self-isolating after 5 days instead of 10 days providing you have 2 negative LFT results on days 5 and 6. Please confirm all test results to the Hom-Isolation-Team email address.

Positive tests and isolation

In case of a positive test, whether NHS, Test & Trace and PCR or LFT, you must email Homerton Isolation Team for record purposes and advice/clarification as needed.

If an asymptomatic screening test result is positive, the entire household will have tests delivered outside their rooms by the Porters. This is not the case for tests outside the asymptomatic screening programme - in this case, you must order a test yourself (see point 2 below).

If your test is positive, as well as receiving your test result from the University, you will be contacted by NHS Test & Trace. Even if double vaccinated, you will be required by law to self-isolate for at least 5 days, providing you have 2 negative LFT results on days 5 and 6, as described on the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni and UK government websites. Otherwise, the full isolation period is 10 days. Homerton will be informed of your test result and contact you to provide support.

Should a member of your household test positive (find your household and test pool or if a close-contact is thought to have, or confirmed to have, COVID-19, the college requests, regardless of your vaccination status, that you follow the following steps in an effort to keep the wider college community safe:

  1. Return to your room immediately to self-isolate.
  2. Arrange a PCR test either via the University (we strongly recommend this) or the NHS (if the University pods are not available, e.g. at the weekend). Please note that the symptomatic tests are run separately from the asymptomatic screening programme. You are allowed to leave your room to take a PCR test.
  3. Let the Homerton Isolation Team know as soon as possible when you receive your test results. Should your test result be negative, you do not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply: you are double vaccinated in the UK, under 18.5 years of age, you’ve taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial, or you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons. However, if under the current UK government guidance, you fall under the non-vaccinated status, i.e. you either are not vaccinated at all, have only received one dose or not a full course of two doses plus the 14 day clearance period after your last vaccination, or finally, you are vaccinated abroad but this is not accepted under the UK rules, then you are required to isolate for the isolation period specified above if there is any positive test result received within your household.
  4. Read the information provided in the downloads list on this page. This will provide further information on how to order meals, receive deliveries, exit your room in emergencies, and on access to outdoor space and (for those in Household isolation only) kitchen use.
  5. Keep in touch with the Homerton Isolation Team with any queries; with the Student Health Advisor with any medical concerns; and with the Porters if you require immediate assistance (they are available 24/7).
  6. Contact your Tutor if you think the period of isolation may affect your plans. You will be contacted by the College about any changed exam arrangements.

 

Quarantine information

Students needing to Quarantine in College can find updated information within the downloads on this page. 
 



Testing and self-isolation support for students

Further information regarding isolation can be found within the downloads on the right hand side of this page. 

Mental health support and advice

Find Information about maintaining good mental health during Self-Isolation within the downloads on the right hand side of this page. 

Useful contacts

Coping with Covid: Daily Prompts

Coping with Covid: Daily Prompts

Rooms, Households and Testing Pools

Rooms, Households and Testing Pools

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