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History of COVID-19 rules in residences

Expected behaviours in halls in 2020-21 during the COVID-19 pandemic

The University introduced some rules that applied in residential halls to help keep the community of students and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. These rules sometimes went beyond what was being recommended by the UK Government, however, they were put in place in campus residences to help promote the health, safety and wellbeing of all.

Students were asked to follow COVID-19 safe community behaviours and to take personal responsibility for following the University's COVID-19 rules and guidance on campus - including student residences - for the health, safety and wellbeing of all. This included following UK Government rules with regard to self-isolation should a student:

  • feel unwell
  • test for COVID-19
  • receive a positive COVID-19 test result
  • be contact traced as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • arrive in the UK from a country which required a period of self-isolation

Monday 19 July 2021 - the national easing of COVID-19 restrictions

The UK Government announced that from Monday 19 July England would come out of its third lockdown and almost all restrictions on social contact were removed. It was announced that social distancing requirements and the wearing of face coverings would be up to individual organisations. The University decided that:

  • 1.5m social distancing would continue in the library, study spaces, in person teaching, offices and "dwell spaces"
  • 1.5m social distancing would apply in the specified study areas in residential halls
  • where there wasn't sufficient space to enable the 1.5m social distancing measures then individuals should wear face coverings
  • face coverings should continue to be worn when moving around in buildings - including the communal areas in residential halls

Students continue to be required to co-operate with each other to enable social contact and mixing indoors to take place in a COVID-19 safe manner.

COVID-19 safety measures in place from 19 July until 16 September 2020-21 in residences

Students were asked to:

  • wear a face covering when moving through communal areas in residences which were outside of their kitchen group. (Face coverings were not required when students were moving around in their student "flat" i.e. between their study bedroom and kitchen)
  • keep a face covering nearby in case it is needed in an emergency - such as leaving the building during a fire alarm
  • remember to take a face covering with them when they were leaving residences since they may be required to enter some University buildings, for public transport or for visiting local shops
  • support the Residential Life, Campus Cleaning Services, Estates maintenance and Community Safety teams by waiting in their study bedrooms or kitchen areas if the teams needed to work in or visit a student flat. These teams could also ask students to comply with social distancing measures (by moving to another room) or stepping back in order to maintain a 1.5 metres distance.
  • support the Residential Life, Campus Cleaning Services, Estates maintenance and Community Safety teams by wearing a face covering if there is a need to move around where work is taking place
  • continue to comply with the study area signage and follow the rules around the maximum number of people who may stay for any period of time within the designated spaces and continue to maintain social distancing whilst using these spaces

If a student needed to self-isolate because:

  • they were unwell and had taken - or were about to take - a COVID-19 test
  • they were in a household group where someone had taken a COVID-19 test
  • they had been contacted by Test and Trace because the student had come into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19
  • they had arrived from a country which didn't have an approved travel corridor with the UK Government

then students needed to follow the University's self-isolation guidelines which was based on UK Government advice at the time.

The University provided specific advice for self-isolation in student residences.

COVID-19 lockdown and tier restrictions in residences prior to 19 July 2021

The following guidance summarises both UK Government rules for England as well as the University rules for campus residences that were issued over the course of the 2020-21 academic year.

Student households

Once students arrived into residential halls they formed new "household" groups. Households were defined in order to help students understand the rules for social distancing and self-isolation.

In the majority of cases the student kitchen groups were "household" groups. However, in some residential halls - due to shared bathrooms or communal spaces (such as hallways, stairwells and access routes) - household groups consisted of one or more kitchen groups or a even a whole floor.

In essence, students left their home and family household groups and joined University household groups. They were asked to remain - as much as possible - within the University household groups during the 2020-21 academic year in order to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

From the start of the academic year 2020-21 to 16 May 2021

At the start of the academic year the University put in place measures that were stronger than those required by the UK Government at the time. The measures introduced for residential halls were put in place following consultation with local Public Health.

From the start of the academic year 2020-21 it was important that whilst students were inside residential halls they:

  • only mixed with students from their own household group
  • ensured that kitchen groups did not mix in residential halls
  • were not allowed to have guests or visitors back to residential halls
  • needed to wear a face covering when moving around a building outside of their kitchen group
  • should not loiter in communal areas when travelling through the building
  • needed to wear a face covering and socially distance from others for emergency evacuations e.g. a fire alarm
  • should remain in their study bedroom and access the University's support and delivery services if they need to self-isolate
  • should not leave the building if they are in self-isolation - unless there was a medical need
  • arrange a COVID-19 test should they feel unwell with COVID-19 symptoms
  • let the University know that they were feeling unwell and had taken a COVID-19 test - particularly if they decided not to use the University's Test and Trace service
  • let the University know that they had tested positive for COVID-19 - particularly if they decided not to use the University's Test and Trace service

This measures helped to minimise contact between individuals which in turn helped to reduce the COVID-19 transmission risk in residential halls.

Guests or visitors included other students, friends, family, etc who were not part of the student's kitchen group. If students wished to meet-up with friends, family or other students then they needed to make arrangements to meet them outside of residential halls.

Once a student moved into residential halls then their kitchen group became their primary "household bubble".

Students were encouraged to keep the community safe by asking people to leave if they saw anyone in their kitchen or communal area who was not part of their kitchen group. They could contact Community Safety or their local Residential Life Team for assistance if the visitor did not comply or they felt unable to ask them to leave. The University recommended that students absent themselves from such situations for their own (and others) health and safety.

A timeline of UK Government restrictions for England

On Wednesday 14 October 2020 the UK Government introduced a three tiered system of measures to enable local areas to manage COVID-19. Coventry - which includes the University - moved from tier 1 (medium alert) to tier 2 (high alert) restrictions from Saturday 24 October 2020. Tier 2 restrictions meant that:

  • individual students were not allowed to meet others outside of their kitchen group indoors
  • different households were not allowed to meet indoors
  • students could meet outdoors with up to five others (the rule of six)

These restrictions were in line with the measures introduced from the start of the 2020-21 academic year for residential halls.

On Thursday 5 November 2020 the UK Government introduced a second national lockdown for England. Students were advised to remain indoors and not mix outside of their own household group. This aligned with the measures introduced by the University at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

This second period of lockdown came to an end on Wednesday 2 December 2020.

Coventry was then a tier 3 (very high alert) area with up to six people only being allowed to meet in outdoor public areas. By the end of December 2020 the UK Government had reviewed the tiers system and added level 4 (stay at home) to help manage the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday 31 December 2020 Coventry entered tier 4 (stay at home) restrictions.

On Wednesday 6 January 2021 England entered a third national lockdown. The UK Government introduced travel arrangements for people arriving to the UK (green/amber/red country listings) and announced a "road map" out of the third lockdown.

This meant that the measures in place at the start of the 2020-21 academic year for residences were still relevant and students were not allowed to:

  • mix household groups indoors or
  • invite guests or visitors back to the halls

What changed between 17 May and 18 July 2021

From Monday 17 May 2021 as England came out of a third lockdown, some social contact outside of household groups was allowed. For students in residential halls on campus this included:

  • two kitchen groups could meet indoors - up to a maximum of 15 people (or the size of the kitchen group if you live in Rootes or Westwood) or
  • an individual student could meet with up to 5 other people indoors (the rule of 6)
  • being able to have someone to stay overnight
  • up to 30 students could meet outdoors

During the summer exam period (May and June 2021) - in order to maintain an environment suitable for study, online exams and sleeping - gatherings, guests and visitors were restricted to weekends only i.e. Friday and Saturday nights.

Students were not allowed to meet with 5 other individuals if there was already a gathering of two kitchen groups going on indoors.

If a student saw 3 or more kitchen groups mixing together indoors in the kitchen or communal areas then they were encouraged to ask the students who were not part of their own kitchen group to leave. They could also contact Community Safety or the local Residential Life Team for assistance if the visitor(s) did not comply or they felt unable to ask them to leave. The University recommended that students absent themselves from such situations for their own (and others) health and safety.

Students could meet-up with up to 30 people outdoors. The University asked that students did this in a respectful and responsible manner - away from residential halls to minimise disturbance during exams.

17 May - 18 July: Meeting others indoors

The easing of lockdown restrictions from Monday 17 May 2021 meant that students could now mix with others indoors - with some restrictions - in residential halls. Rules were in place during the summer exam period (may - June 2021) in order to maintain a suitable environment for academic study.

On a Friday or Saturday night only during the exam period:

  • two kitchen groups of up to 15 people could meet indoors in hall kitchens (maximum numbers for Rootes and Westwood were based on kitchen group size); or
  • a student could have up to 5 other guests or visitors indoors in halls (the rule of 6)
  • one guest could stay overnight in a student's study bedroom

Students were advised to liaise with their local member of the Residential Life Team and confirm the arrangements. This helped others by reminding students about their obligations to keep the noise to a minimum - say if someone in the kitchen group were taking exams on a Saturday - or to help mediate if there was no agreement about who had priority when more than one group wished to invite others to mix in the kitchen. If the noise from the kitchen at any time during the exam period was excessive and disturbing others then the local Residential Life Team could ask the students present to leave immediately.

17 May - 18 July: Meeting others outdoors

Students could meet with up to 30 other people outdoors for exercise, organised sport or recreation.

Students were asked to be mindful that not everyone would feel comfortable meeting-up in groups straight away. Students - both on and off campus - were reminded that some people may still be more cautious than Government guidance allowed. After a year of isolating at home on their own, students were asked to take a moment to consider how others might feel seeing a group of up to 30 people. Students were asked to be respectful and help others feel at ease.

Students were reminded to consider what noise they make when they gather with others outside. Students were asked to respect others in residences and meet others away from the buildings. This would help students in halls who were studying, taking online exams/assessments or who were trying to sleep.

Students needed to be prepared to be asked to move away from halls if there was a noise nuisance outside. They were reminded of their need to co-operate with Community Safety or the local Residential Life Team if the noise was such that it disturbed others.

From Monday 19 July until 16 September 2021: Other guidance to keep you safe

The following rules continued as before - students were asked to:

  • wear a face covering when moving around communal areas in some University buildings
  • remember to take a face covering when leaving residences since it may be needed e.g. for public transport or for the local shops
  • wear a face covering when there is a fire alarm and maintain social distance from others if the student feels unwell, has tested for COVID-19 or is positive for COVID-19
  • maintain good hygiene practices - such as hand washing and cleaning surfaces

These practices would continue to keep students and the wider community safe.