Students are at risk of “self-isolation fatigue” after Christmas as they face spending time quarantining both before and after their break, a university vice-chancellor has said.
The warning came as universities that have applied for rapid-testing kits to mass-test students - as part of a government plan to allow a six-day “travel window” for students in England - wait to hear what they will be given.
University heads have broadly welcomed the testing plans. They have been identifying test sites and making preparations, such as, at the University of York, a booking system where students could be collected by a family or “bubble” member.
Charlie Jeffery, vice-chancellor of York, said the mass testing could also be used in the future, when students were likely to be among the lowest priority for a Covid-19 vaccine.
The university was well placed in terms of Covid-19 tracing, he said, but “I do worry a bit about self-isolation fatigue”. He added: “The whole thing rests on the assumption that people will self-isolate, and through that manage the risk of onward transmission. We have had student cases and have had isolation for those who are positive or those in their households.
“But if someone comes back next year and has to do it all over again, after already having two weeks of self-isolation, it may be challenging. We need to think very hard about government support for self-isolation for students, who are by definition a low-income group.”