Manchester Metropolitan University is currently developing an additional package of care and financial support to assist students who have been asked to go into 14-day self-isolation at its Birley and Cambridge Halls accommodation.
The support will include the provision of food and other essential items through partnerships with local supermarkets, enhanced health and wellbeing services, and additional financial assistance.
Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan, said: “The physical and emotional wellbeing of our students is paramount. Discussions with Public Health England and Manchester City Council on Friday led to the decision to ask students living in these halls to self-isolate at short notice. The reason for this decision was the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 127 students testing positive for the virus, and the need to protect our wider community.
“I recognise the impact that this situation is having on our students, particularly given the extremely short period of time we had to inform them of the decision. Many of them are away from home for the first time and still finding their feet. Their welfare is our top priority and that is why we have been working hard with organisations around the city since Friday evening to put in place support to help during this 14-day period.
“We are urgently preparing a care package which we hope will ensure students will have the essentials they require in halls, plus financial support to assist them through this challenging period.
“We expect students to follow the guidance for self-isolation set out by the Government and Public Health England. Our staff are on hand 24 hours a day to provide support, guidance and deal with concerns. We are unable to prevent our students from leaving the halls, but our students are bright young adults and we trust that they will do the right thing.”
The University has introduced a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching for this term, with the flexibility to switch fully online if needed.
Professor Press added: “The Government places a high priority on universities staying open and delivering high quality education. Students tell us that they value the mix of online and face-to-face education and it is important that we do what we can to deliver this in a COVID-secure way. It would be unfair to expect students to put their lives on hold.
“We have switched all of our Foundation Year and First Year students to online learning for the next 14 days, and are reviewing the situation regularly. Other year groups will continue to learn in a blended way. Students are taking one course unit at a time and in small groups, with members of staff always remaining at least 2 m from students, with the use of face coverings or visors, as well as other measures in place.”