In advance of the new academic year, the University of Cambridge has launched an information campaign, webpages and a series of short films to help students and staff minimise the risks to themselves and others from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This academic year will be unlike any other, and it will be challenging for all of us, but we will do everything we can to make sure our students feel safe and supported while they are here
Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope
The ‘Stay Safe Cambridge Uni’ campaign has been developed by University, College and student representatives, and is based on the latest public health guidance. Additionally, Dr Simone Schnall from the Department of Psychology surveyed students and staff from across the University and Colleges to determine which messages were most effective.
A variety of resources, including University-specific guidance, and videos, are being made available to new and returning students and staff, to support them in keeping themselves, the University and the city as safe as possible during the pandemic.
Most of the measures being put in place by the University and Colleges will be familiar as part of a plan to reduce the risk of community spread of the coronavirus. Face coverings will be required in most buildings, and social distancing for people from different households will be encouraged. For most Colleges, a household will be classified as students living together and sharing communal facilities, such as toilets and showers. The University and Colleges will also advise students of their responsibilities while out and about in Cambridge and keep them up to date on the latest public health guidance.
The University has its own dedicated COVID-19 testing capacity, which is free to any member of the University displaying symptoms, along with members of their household. Testing is currently available at either Addenbrooke’s Hospital or the Department of Engineering.
“This year’s group of students – whether they are coming to Cambridge for the first time or returning to continue their studies – have been through an incredibly stressful few months, both because of the disruption caused by the pandemic and the confusion around exam results,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope. “This academic year will be unlike any other, and it will be challenging for all of us, but we will do everything we can to make sure our students feel safe and supported while they are here.”
“We don’t yet know how long we will all be living with COVID-19, but we do know that our success in controlling the virus will depend on everyone playing their part,” said Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education. “We all have a responsibility to minimise the spread of COVID-19. We are members of a wider community and take our responsibility to others in Cambridge and beyond very seriously.”
The ‘Stay Safe Cambridge Uni’ campaign has been developed to complement Cambridge City Council’s ‘Stay Safe Cambridge’ campaign, which was introduced following the relaxation of lockdown in early July.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “The successful and safe return of students and university staff to Cambridge this autumn is vital for them and for our whole city. We have, as councils, been working in close partnership with our universities, so that everything is in place to protect people and to share sound advice to newcomers.
“Ensuring younger people keep safe as well as have fun and make the most of their time in Cambridge will boost our local fight to beat coronavirus and avoid the ongoing risks of both a fresh surge and the need for a lockdown in Cambridge. This is why we unequivocally endorse the efforts of our two University #StaySafe campaigns and the considerable thought and planning taking place, so that we and everyone in Cambridge can successfully deliver our #StaySafeCambridge campaign.”
Many postgraduate students, especially those whose research is lab-based, have already returned to Cambridge. Most undergraduate students will return at the start of Michaelmas term, which begins on 8 October. Many Colleges will be staggering student arrivals, so that social distancing can be maintained, especially for Colleges based in the city centre.
The Stay Safe Cambridge Uni webpages can be found at: www.cam.ac.uk/staysafecambridgeuni.