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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

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    Information for students, staff and Fellows concerned about coronavirus (COVID-19)

     

    NEW: Information for students in self-isolation - 23.03.20 and Information for self-isolating supporters - 22.03.20.

     

    If your question is not answered below, please do speak to your Line Manager or your Tutor.

    The University and Colleges are cooperating closely with Public Health England (PHE). New information relevant to the University and Colleges is published on the University website.

     

    General information

     

    What is coronavirus?

    A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common throughout the world.

    Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019.

    How can I protect myself against COVID-19?

    • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Dry your hands using an air dryer or disposable paper towel.
    • Catch all coughs and sneezes in tissues, and dispose of the tissues in a bin as soon as possible.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
    • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.

    What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    Common symptoms include: fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.

    What should I do if I become unwell and believe I have been exposed to COVID-19?

    Please use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service in the first instance. 

    If you are unwell you should not go to the Porters' Lodge, visit the College Nurse or visit a GP, pharmacy or hospital.

     

    Travel guidance and advice

    Previous Public Health England (PHE) guidance on isolation for those returning from specified countries has been withdrawn and superseded by information in the COVID-19 stay-at-home guidance, which applies to all individuals who develop symptoms regardless of whether they have travelled. The PHE stay-at-home guidance is available here.

    Can I still go home despite government advice to avoid all but essential travel?

    The general rule from the UK Government is to avoid all travel. However, there may be cases where international students are either receiving conflicting advice from their home government or have already arranged flights home themselves. Any student in this position should contact their Tutor for advice.

    It is possible that any student attempting to travel home may be stopped by the authorities and required to return to Cambridge. In this situation, the College would welcome the returning student but, depending on specific circumstances of exposure to potential infection, may require a period of self-isolation on their return to Cambridge in order to minimise the risk to the College's resident student population and staff.

    Several countries have closed their borders to non-nationals. I come from one of those countries. Should I still return home?

    No student will be forced to leave the College. However, if you can, and you have a clear travel plan to get you home safely, you should do so.

     

    Accommodation

     

    I have left College but my possessions are still in my room. Can I collect them?

    This is not possible at the current time, based on the current Government 'staying at home' guidance. This guidance will be reviewed around 14 April but our expectation is that it will remain in place for the next few months.

    Are my belongings covered by insurance?

    Block possessions cover is in place to cover Fire, Theft and Flood.
     
    You may have suddenly left your accommodation to return home; as a result, you may not have taken all your possessions with you. To support this, the un-occupancy exclusion of 60 days has been waived and student possessions will be covered under the policy for an unlimited period of time during the policy period. 
     
    When travelling back home, you may be carrying important items. As an additional benefit, students will be covered in transit against theft for up to £500 per bag of possessions, within the UK. 
     
    If your possessions are in secure storage, please be reassured that cover for these items will still apply in storage. 
     
    If you are having to move into temporary accommodation, the block policy will provide full coverage for you during the time of stay. 

    What should students who are renting privately do?

    If you are renting accommodation privately (not from College or the University), you will have a contract or licence with your landlord. You should comply with this contract; paying rent and giving notice as required. You should contact your landlord if you feel you need to shorten the rental period for any reason. You should still heed the advice from PHE on whether it is better to be in Cambridge or elsewhere, and you should follow the advice on self-isolation and social distancing.

    The College remains responsible for supporting you, so please complete the census if you are anywhere in Cambridge. Anyone who is in difficulty should contact their Tutor. In particular, please let us know immediately if you are self-isolating or unwell.

    What facilities in College remain available for students still in residence?

    As of Friday 3 April, the Dome opening times and offer will change.

    The Dome will be open from 11:00-13:00 Monday to Sunday as a shop, giving you the opportunity to stock up on the usual cupboard and fridge items such as bread, cereal, milk, butter, tea, coffee and confectionary.

    Daily from 12:15-13:00 the lunch offer in the Dome will be available to take away. There will also be the addition of a frozen section where you can purchase alternative meals. Take-away salads, meat, fish and vegetarian options will be available in the Salad Bar fridge.

    The Dome will no longer be offering dinner.

    The Porters' Lodge is still operational, and many services including tutorial, nursing and pastoral support continue to be available remotely, via working from home.

    However, all indoor spaces have been closed in College, including the JCR and MCR, the College Library (although online services remain available as advised by the Librarian), the computer room, the College bar and the College gym. Re-opening will be considered as soon as Government advice permits this.

     

    Academic matters

     

    What is happening with teaching and exams in Easter Term?

    In his message to students on 31 March, the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), made clear the assessment principles and polices for Easter Term 2020. These can be accessed from the University website.

    I am not able to study effectively at home. Can I return to Cambridge for the Easter Term?

    Students should remain where they are until the Government's advice to stay 'at home' is reviewed and lifted. If you are unable to study effectively for your exams in Easter Term, you will have the opportunity to submit a request to the University (via your Tutor) to apply to delay your exams until the second assessment period. Please note: we cannot be sure when the second assessment period will take place, given our dependence on Government advice. It is unlikely to be before September 2020, and may be later.

     

    Health, wellbeing and self-isolation guidance

    Should I stay at home/in your room if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

    You should stay at home/in your room for seven days if you have either:

    • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to the touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
    • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.

    Please use the 111 coronavirus service for more information.

    If you are a student, you must email or call the Porters' Lodge if you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19 – do not go along in person. Please note that revised Public Health England guidance now requires all 'household' contacts to also self-isolate for a period of 14 days starting from the first onset of symptoms in the group.  'Household' in a College context is defined as those sharing the same kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Further PHE guidance is available here.

    If you are a member of staff or a Fellow, please see the separate section below.

    What is self-isolation?

    Public Health England has published a blog post explaining what self-isolation is and why it is important.

    I think I need to self-isolate. What should I do?

    Please use the 111 coronavirus service in the first instance. 

    If you are unwell you should not visit anyone. This includes the Porters' Lodge, the College Nurse, a GP, pharmacy or hospital. You should remain at home/in your room and use the NHS111 online coronavirus service.

    If you need to self-isolate, please email your Tutor and the Porters' Lodge (if you are a student in College) or your Line Manager (if you are a member of staff) or the College Administrator and the Senior Tutor (if you are a Fellow) and await further information.

    If I stay in College and fall ill, what help will the College be able to provide?

    The College will not be able to provide routine nursing care. Students who live alone without shared facilities will have to self-isolate in their rooms. However, it is important to note that revised Public Health England (PHE) guidance now requires all 'household' contacts to also self-isolate for a period of 14 days starting from the first onset of symptoms in the group. 'Household' in a College context is defined as those sharing the same kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Further PHE guidance is available here.

    How does Government advice on social distancing work in a College environment?

    Please take the time to read and digest the Government's advice on staying at home and away from others.

    A 'household' in a College context is defined as those sharing the same kitchen, bathroom or toilet. This is an important factor when interpreting Government advice, especially where this refers to members of the same household. The core principles of the advice on social distancing are that you should only leave your house for very limited reasons:

    • Shopping for basic necessities – e.g. food and medicine.
    • One form of exercise a day – e.g. a run, walk or cycle. Ideally, this should be done alone or with other members of your household only. If you exercise with someone (not from your household) then you should remain at least two metres away from them at all times.
    • Medical need – including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
    • Employees travelling for work purposes – but only where you cannot work from home.

    These reasons are exceptions and as a general rule, time spent outside should be minimal. The College gardens should be used responsibly and are no longer open to non-College members or visitors.

    Can friends visit me in College?

    All College-owned accommodation and facilities, including the gardens, are closed to non-members while the current UK Government advice on social distancing remains in force. This means that you should not host visitors in your room or in the College grounds unless they are members of your existing 'household'. The advice is intended to reduce the overall level of human interaction and thereby slow the spread of infection. Hosting visitors from outside the College brings unnecessary risk of infection to members of your household, other College members and staff, as well as to yourself. Remember of course that contact with friends online is always possible.

    I am remaining in Cambridge and I think I am more vulnerable to COVID-19. What should I do?

    Check the current PHE advice on vulnerable persons to see if your health condition does make you more vulnerable to COVID-19. A subset of these more vulnerable people are at greater risk of very serious COVID-19 related illness. Check here to see if this includes you.

    All students who consider themselves vulnerable to more serious disease are encouraged to confidentially make themselves known to the College Nurse, their Tutor or the Senior Tutor. Vulnerable students who find themselves in a household isolation situation should take specific advice from the College Nurse, their Tutor or the Senior Tutor. If in doubt, please ask for advice and call NHS111 if necessary.

    Can I volunteer to be a Self-Isolation Supporter (SIS)?

    An important element of self-isolation will need to be provided by Self-Isolation Supporters (SIS).

    In the event that a student needs to self-isolate, they will be allocated two SIS whose role will be to ensure close verbal or social media contact with the self-isolated individual. The aim of the SIS is to help the self-isolator obtain things they need – especially food – and to keep in touch with them during their period of self-isolation.

    Please note: there is no medical responsibility involved, and no physical contact with the self-isolator is expected – just a willingness to communicate with the person self-isolating to ensure they have what they need.

    If you are interested in volunteering to be a SIS, please get in touch with the Senior Tutor.

    I am stressed and anxious about COVID-19. Where can I get support?

    We recognise that some members of the College community may be feeling concerned about COVID-19 for a variety of reasons.

    If you are worried about COVID-19, we encourage you to get in touch with your Tutor, Director of Studies, the Senior Tutor or the College Nurse, or in the case of College staff, with your Line Manager or HR. They will be able to provide helpful guidance and support.

    In addition, the University Counselling Service is putting in place arrangements for counselling by telephone for appointments already made, and will be developing these plans.

    The University also has a page on its website dedicated to student wellbeing. This page contains a lot of helpful advice and links to further resources. 

    I am experiencing financial hardship. Can the College help?

    If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of travel and other arrangements made in response to COVID-19, please get in touch with your Tutor in the first instance. You should also explore the University's Special Hardship Fund for the COVID-19 situation. Please note: applications for the University's Special Hardship Fund require you to have researched College or other hardship support, and you are expected to have filled in the relevant field on the application form to have confirmed this.

     

    Information for staff and Fellows

     

    What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?

    Please stay home, and notify your Line Manager or if your Line Manager is not available then HR (hr@murrayedwards.cam.ac.uk / 01223 769404). If you are a Fellow, please contact the College Administrator.

    If you are in College, please notify your Line Manager from a distance and go home. To avoid risk of infection to others you should not use public transport or taxis. You should either drive home, or wait for a household member to collect you where applicable. 

    You should contact NHS111 online who will provide you with a self-isolation form in the event that they believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, which you should forward to your Line Manger to forward to HR. 

    If you do have symptoms COVID-19, you should self-isolate for 7 days i.e. stay at home and not be in contact with anyone outside of your household. 

    If you are in a role that can work remotely, and you are well enough to do so, you should continue to work from home. 

    If your symptoms become worse during the 7 days, you should follow the guidelines on NHS111 online

    Please keep your Line Manager (if you are a member of staff) or the College Administrator (if you are a Fellow) aware of any changes that you are having to make as a result of guidance from NHS111. Your Line Manager or the College Administrator may ask you to identify any other College members with whom you have had contact over the past 48 hours. 

    It is especially important that, in the event that you test positive for COVID-19, you (or someone on your behalf) let your Line Manager and / or HR know as soon as you can. If you are a Fellow, please email the College Administrator.

    If, after 7 days, your symptoms are better, you can return to following the government guidelines for those not needing to self-isolate.
     

    What if someone in my household or with whom I have had close recent contact has symptoms of COVID-19?

    Please stay home, and notify your Line Manager or if your Line Manager is not available then HR (hr@murrayedwards.cam.ac.uk / 01223 769404). If you are a Fellow, please contact the College Administrator.

    If you are in College, please notify your Line Manager from a distance and go home. To avoid risk of infection to others you should not use public transport or taxis. You should either drive home, or wait for a household member to collect you where applicable. 

    As per advice from Public Health England, you should self-isolate for 14 days i.e. stay at home and not be in contact with anyone outside of your household. 

    If you are in a role that can work remotely, and you are well enough to do so, you should continue to work from home.

    If you develop symptoms during the 14 days, you should follow the guidelines on NHS111 online.

    Please keep your Line Manager (if you are a member of staff) or the College Administrator (if you are a Fellow) aware of any changes that you are having to make as a result of guidance from NHS111. Your Line Manager or the College Administrator may ask you to identify any other College members with whom you have had contact over the past 48 hours. 

    It is especially important that, in the event that you test positive for COVID-19, you (or someone on your behalf) let your Line Manager and / or HR know as soon as you can. If you are a Fellow, please email the College Administrator.

    If, after 14 days, you have no symptoms or your symptoms are better, you can return to following the government guidelines for those not needing to self-isolate.

    What can I do now to help the situation?

    Ensure your Line Manager (if you are a member of staff) or the College Administrator (if you are a Fellow) have up to date contact details for you, and if possible the contact details of someone else that we can contact if we need to. 

    For anyone working in College, it would be helpful if you have a household member that you could nominate to come and collect you should you develop symptoms of the virus at work. 

    At all times, follow government guidelines on how to conduct yourself.