Nov 22 2020
Two weeks ago, we advised that the Government had established a ‘travel window’ to enable students who want to travel from campus at the end of term, for example to go home for Christmas, to do so between Thursday 3 and Wednesday 9 December. They also announced that students would be offered asymptomatic testing. We can now share more information on how you can access the test and on the travel window so that you can think about what both mean for you and your plans.
From Tuesday 1 December students and staff will be able to access coronavirus (Covid-19) testing on campus even if you don’t have any symptoms (asymptomatic). There is a lot of information, so we have added as much as we can to the Information Hub to help you navigate what you need to know.
The tests are called lateral flow tests. They are simple to take, and you need to take two within three days of one another. Tests don’t need to go to a lab and results are provided within one to two hours depending on demand, so you won’t have to wait long to know. Tests involve you taking a swab from the back of your throat and your nose. You can watch a video about it here and learn more about the tests here.
The tests are voluntary and free of charge. Taking the tests will mean that you are playing your part in helping to keep others safe and you will be able to be more confident that you’re not taking the virus home, or unknowingly infecting your housemates and others if you’re staying on campus or in the local area over the holiday period.
We have a tight schedule to give everyone the opportunity to get the two tests, travel within 24 hours of two negative lateral flow tests and begin, and complete the journey during the Government’s designated ‘student travel window’, which runs from Thursday 3 December to Wednesday 9 December. If either of your lateral flow tests are positive, you’ll also need to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test which is commonly used in the NHS for testing people showing symptoms.
This flow chartoutline schedule and FAQ give more detail.
Later this week (w/c 23 November), we will publish a link so that you can book your tests. There will also be more information on the arrangements. The testing centre will be on the Egham Campus. The University of London is organising a centre which you can also use if your course is taught in London. 
Setting up the testing facility in three weeks is a huge job but we are committed to enabling thousands of students to access the tests so that everyone who wants to travel can do so as safely as possible and play their part in keeping others safe.
To give as many people as possible the opportunity to take the test, it will be necessary to allocate slots for both your tests and travel window - should you wish to return home. We understand this will be frustrating. Our hope is that everyone who can work within the necessary constraints will make every effort to do so. This will create flexibility for others, but we understand that the approach won’t work for everyone, and you will need to make a decision about what is best for your circumstances.
This is a complex operation, and we understand that you will have lots of questions. To help answer these colleagues will hold a Q&A on MS Teams tomorrowMonday 23 November at 5pm. In the meantime, please take the opportunity to find more details on the Information Hub.
We want you to succeed in your studies and successfully complete this term. To fit with the Government’s travel window, all teaching will move online by Wednesday 9 December, and you can find out how we are making adjustments to teaching, assessments and the extensions process to achieve this. We also know that many of you will be staying on campus after Wednesday 9 DecemberCampus remains open for you and, as is the case every year, throughout the holiday period. Timetabled face-to-face, on campus, teaching and learning support will resume in January when the new term starts, on Monday 11 January.
Professor Paul Layzell