How are Unite Students keeping students safe during lockdown?
Earlier this month, we announced a rent discount for students who are currently unable to access their accommodation. But, with approximately half of the students who checked in with us this year currently in residence, their safety remains our priority. Here, we share Unite Students’ refreshed safety measures in light of how the pandemic has developed in recent months.
Student safety is a priority at Unite Students, and over the 2020/21 academic year we have continued to update and adapt our operational response to Covid-19.
In advance of the return to campus, we introduced our Home Charter in order to underline a culture of respect in our properties, and have integrated this into our customer communications as well as our student diversity and inclusion policy. Where needed, we have put an enhanced security presence in place to keep our students, properties and employees safe.
Our updated health and safety measures include:
- Daily temperature checks for our employees at the start of their shifts
- PPE (gloves, face mask, apron, face shield) worn by staff for cleaning and room inspections
- The use of specialist anti-viral fogging machines to sanitise rooms in addition to our existing COVID-19 cleaning regime (we are the only PBSA provider to have invested in this)
- Compulsory face mask wearing by students and staff in all communal areas
- Widely available hand sanitiser across properties
- Perspex screens in operation at reception
- Floor markings and social distancing signage around our properties
We have consistently tweaked our ‘Operating Safely’ handbook throughout the year to reflect the ever-changing situation.
Our digital offering has also been bolstered since the summer, with our MyUnite app allowing students to log maintenance requests remotely, as well as hosting a number of guides and videos explaining how to use appliances, thereby reducing footfall around our properties. The app has also been upgraded to include a self-isolation feature, through which students can report when they are self-isolating and why. Self-isolating students are contacted by their city teams to check on their wellbeing and ensure they have all the food and essentials they need during their isolation period.
At such a difficult time for students, we are able to support their mental health and wellbeing through our Student Support Services. We have accredited mental health first aiders in every city, and our staff are able to offer support either remotely or face-to-face where required. Out of hours support is available via our 24/7 emergency contact centre and our partnership with student listening charity Nightline, and our student-facing blog The Common Room is regularly updated with wellbeing advice and tips on combatting loneliness, alongside the latest guidance and FAQs for students about the Covid-19 situation and our rent discount.
To provide additional support to students, we are trialling two new webinar-based schemes: the peer-led Students Supporting Students programme, in which our student ambassadors present material – developed using material from Student Minds – to help new students adapt to university life through the pandemic; and Study Strategies of Successful Students, webinars led by ELS International director Dr Martin Sedgley to help students adapt to online learning.
Whatever 2021 brings, we will continue to keep students safe by monitoring restrictions – both local and national – in order to ensure that the appropriate guidance and measures are in place.