COVID-19 Update: Updated Safety and Wellbeing Measures – 21st April 2021
After a challenging year, Covid-19 restrictions are gradually being loosened across the UK, and students will be able to return to campus for at least some of the summer term in England, Scotland and Wales. Unite Students shares its plans to maintain the safety of students and staff into the summer, and further steps to respond to some of the current challenges.
Students in England Scotland can return from 17th May, while students in Wales have been permitted to return to campus since 12th April. Unite Students’ occupancy currently stands at around 65%, and in addition to preparing for the return of students who have remained away from their accommodation, we are constantly adapting and updating our safety and wellbeing measures to support students already in residence.
Going into the summer term, our key priorities are keeping students and our employees safe from Covid-19 as restrictions ease, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of those who have struggled with the many difficulties of the past year, and working with our university partners in these areas by sharing information and best practice.
Health and Safety
We will be reopening facilities including common rooms, gyms and study spaces in our properties in line with the relevant roadmaps and university policies. In addition to our previously outlined safety measures, we will be undertaking the following activity in order to maintain the health and safety of our staff and students:
- Daily reviews of suspected and confirmed Covid cases and travel isolations , and reiterating our support to those affected
- Reinforcing social distancing and cleaning routines in order to keep reopened facilities safe
- Reviewing our out of hours staffing resource with increased coverage as appropriate
- Working with university security teams and local police contacts to build relationships, discuss common issues and share solutions
We provide an information pack to students who are required to isolate due to international travel or a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19, outlining our support with food shopping, deliveries and welfare needs, as well as protocol for fire evacuations, cleaning and maintenance issues.
We have conducted student surveys throughout the past year to gauge students’ wellbeing needs, and our most recent survey in February raised some stark findings: 77% of students said they had struggled with their mental health and wellbeing as a result of Covid-19.
To further support student wellbeing, we are implementing the following measures:
- Increasing the number of welfare leads in our cities to ensure every student gets wellbeing support where needed
- Retraining relevant staff on welfare checks , in order to ensure safety and sensitivity for all involved
- Planning a calendar of events for the summer term to engage students and create a sense of community , led by our Student Ambassadors
We have recently shared research and insight into the fundamental importance of community to the student experience, particularly around wellbeing and belonging; more can be read about this here.
Further measures are currently being discussed and reviewed, and we will share any further updates in due course.