Norfolk students welcome ‘travel window’ to get home for Christmas

Coronavirus rates at the University of East Anglia are no longer rising. Photo: Bill Smith

Coronavirus rates at the University of East Anglia are no longer rising. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2011

Norfolk students have welcomed new measures aimed at enabling them to travel home to spend Christmas with their families.

UEA student positive coronavirus cases have halved in a week. Picture: Denise Bradley

UEA student positive coronavirus cases have halved in a week. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

New Government guidance states that students will be required to follow the current national restrictions in place until December 2, completing the lockdown period in their term-time accommodation. 

But a ‘student travel window’ will allow them to then travel home safely between December 3 and December 9.

MORE: Thousands of UEA students told to stay in Norwich for lockdownThe University of East Anglia and Norwich University of the Arts will be required to set up staggered departure dates, working with local public health officials and transport operators. 

Phoebe Lucas, first year UEA student from Framlingham. Picture: Submitted

Phoebe Lucas, first year UEA student from Framlingham. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

Universities have also been told they should move all learning online by December 9 so students can continue their education while also having the option to return home to study from there.

Phoebe Lucas, a first year UEA student from Framlingham who can’t wait to return home for Christmas, said: “It makes sense to have staggered return times and it makes it seem less daunting as we now have the option to go home.”


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Maciej Duda, a first year student from Guildford, said: “I think it’s a good idea that they are deciding to change everything online finally as the contact hours were very limited anyway.”

Chole Webb, UEA student from Billericay in Essex. Picture: Submitted

Chole Webb, UEA student from Billericay in Essex. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

However, some students have highlighted problems with online learning.

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Paris Humes, a first year student, said: “I’m not getting the full learning of my course. I’m doing broadcasting and multimedia journalism and having online learning has limited what we can do in terms of learning how to edit news clips and audio together, and I’m not able to visit the studios to use all of the recording equipment.”

Chole Webb, a second year culture, literature and politics student from Billericay in Essex, was happy about the possibility of a travel corridor but added: ”Everything has been done online so far anyway, I’d be irritated if I finally had to be on campus for the last week of term.”

University of East Anglia vice chancellor David Richardson collecting a Covid-19 test box during the

University of East Anglia vice chancellor David Richardson collecting a Covid-19 test box during the testing scheme. Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

The latest guidance comes as the Government said it would be working closely with universities to establish mass testing capacity.

Tests will be offered to as many students as possible before they travel home providing further reassurance that where students test negative, they can return home safely and minimise the risk of passing coronavirus on to their loved ones.  

If a student tests positive before their departure they will need to remain in self-isolation for the required period of 10 days. 

Paris Humes, a first year UEA student. Picture: Submitted

Paris Humes, a first year UEA student. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The UEA has been offering staff and students a free swab test for Covid-19 since the start of the academic year with the aim of limiting asymptomatic transmission of the virus, and offering reassurance to students, staff and the Norwich community.

Latest figures show 15 students at the UEA have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past seven days, with four confirmed on Monday. That is a fall from 26 positive cases the previous week.

MORE: Big drop in UEA Covid casesUniversities Minister Michelle Donelan said moving all learning online by December 9 would give enough time for students to complete the isolation period and return home for Christmas.  

Maciej Duda, a first year UEA student from Guildford. Picture: Submitted

Maciej Duda, a first year UEA student from Guildford. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

She added: “We know this Christmas will feel different, and after this incredibly difficult year we are absolutely committed to getting students back to their loved ones in time for the Christmas break.

“But I know residents across East Anglia might wonder how students leaving campus, or those coming back to the area, might affect them. I want to reassure everyone that we have worked really hard to find a way to do this for this group, while limiting the risk of transmission.

“With the national lockdown measures, staggered leave times, safer travel guidance and any additional assurances from testing, we are confident transmission can be controlled, and we can enable these students to have the Christmas break they deserve.”

Universities minister Michelle Donelan. Picture: David Woolfall

Universities minister Michelle Donelan. Picture: David Woolfall - Credit: David Woolfall

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