Staff and students at York St John University test positive for Covid-19

28 Sep 2020 @ 12.02 pm
| Health

A number of staff and students have tested positive for Covid-19 at York St John University.

The university won’t give out an exact figure, but says it is fewer than ten.

York St John has around 7,500 students studying there each year.

The coronavirus cases are all unconnected, the university said today.

In a brief statement, it said:

  • Since the beginning of term on 21 September, York St John University has reported fewer than ten positive Covid-19 cases amongst staff and students.

    All cases are unconnected and do not constitute an outbreak.

    Close contacts have been informed and are isolating accordingly.

The York campus is open and operating with Covid safety measures in place.

On its website it says: “We will continue to meet the government’s expectation of providing a blended learning approach that includes face-to-face teaching where possible, alongside physical distancing and wearing face coverings.

“We are following and exceeding public health guidance to make our spaces safe. The health, safety and wellbeing of staff, students and our local community continues to come first.”

‘Remote learning should be the norm’

York St John University. Photograph: Rob Smalley

According to Sky News, 32 UK universities now have confirmed cases of Covid-19, with more than 640 people affected since they reopened.

The University of York was not included in its list. Its academic year starts today.

Today the University and College Union urged the Prime Minister to ensure online tuition at universities “becomes the norm”.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, union general secretary Jo Grady wrote: “It is clear that remote learning should be the default for campus life while we are in this precarious position with the virus.

“However, what we are seeing on the ground is university employers hiding behind the Government’s current sectoral guidance, with all the ambiguities associated with the term ‘blended learning’.”

She added: “Whilst other sectors are being encouraged by the Government to work from home to help control the spread of the virus, universities are requiring staff to travel across their local regions to work on-site and in-person with any number of students.

“Considering the known risks associated with in-person teaching and students living in close quarters, why did the Government not insist on minimising in-person teaching and students travelling to universities?

“We have concerns that universities are taking this stubborn position because they depend on rents from student accommodation – and because your own Government refuses to step in and underwrite universities’ lost income for the duration of the pandemic to ensure they are not negatively impacted and jobs are not lost.”