Here is a summary of the main messages from the college regarding the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- It’s important all students tell College their plans and whereabouts so help keep College running effectively, and make sure they can support us all. Please fill in this form as soon as possible, including if you are not sure of your plans or if you have Hughes Hall accommodation and are no longer liable to pay rent: https://cambridge.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3EJIUymLPNto5YF. Thank you for your help.
- You should have received updates from the Vice-Chancellor and the President – College is continuing to work with others across the University to seek clarity on any remaining issues. In the meantime, please talk to your tutor if you have concerns or send any urgent questions to email@example.com. The website has plenty of information and links too.
- Please take time to consider your situation and make the best decision possible for your own wellbeing, within the guidance set out for us by the government. Your tutor is happy to talk things through and the college nurse and counsellor are available to help support your wider health and wellbeing needs.
- College staff remain on site to support everyone in residence and especially those isolating; study spaces are open; and the library is offering click and collect.
The following is the text of the email from the President of Hughes Hall on 6 January 2021:
Dear Hughes Students,
I’ve redrafted this email a number of times over the last 48 hours to avoid updating you with obsolete information or making broken promises, such is the current speed of change. I am all too aware that many of you are enduring extremely difficult circumstances, are missing loved ones, are uncertain about the future, and need some clarity. Please be assured that we are here to support you and that we are doing all we can to resolve key issues and concerns.
Issues currently being addressed as a matter of urgency range from exams, accommodation and remote study to library availability, testing, and arrangements for those who must return. Hopefully you received the update on much of this today from the Vice-Chancellor. You will receive further updates from us as more becomes clear.
The government strongly advises that students only return if you have a compelling reason. It considers postgraduate research students to be equivalent to employees – if you are one and can work from home, you should do so. The VC has confirmed that apart from a few specific exceptions for medics and PGCE students, undergraduate and all other taught courses will move online for the Lent term. This obviously affects the decision of those students on whether you need to return to Cambridge. Please remember too that we shall be restarting asymptomatic testing from next week, as a critical part of how we will seek to control the virus, including for the majority of students living outside the College.
The current advice for you therefore depends on your current location and on the course and degree you are studying for.
If you are not in Cambridge:
- You should return if your course requires you to be here (including researchers with practical course components or Cambridge-based essential resources) or if there are other important health, personal or practical reasons (which you should discuss with your tutor).
- You should not return if the above does not apply to you.
- If you are currently uncertain on whether your course requires you to return, please delay travel where possible and await further clarification or seek advice. This will be sorted out very soon, course by course.
Please note that students who have Hughes Hall accommodation but are not returning this term will not be charged rent for the Lent Term, from 1st January 2021. Students in private accommodation who are now facing financial difficulties should contact their tutor.
- If you are already in Cambridge (or likely to return):
- You should stay here until the lockdown ends, which may well be extended beyond the current review date in mid-February.
- The college remains open.
- We will support you: staff with a role in directly supporting our students remain at work, including the tutorial office, porters, maintenance, catering, and housekeeping teams.
- We intend to keep study spaces open for those on site and the library remains available for click and collect borrowing. Those needing access to the computers should contact the librarian.
We need to know your plans and whereabouts in order to ensure we have the resources necessary to keep the College up and running and support you properly. It is therefore critical that EVERY student fills in this form as soon as possible, including if you are not sure of your plans or if you have Hughes Hall accommodation and are no longer liable to pay rent: https://cambridge.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3EJIUymLPNto5YF.
There will be further guidance from many departments about specific course arrangements.
Please do take time to consider your situation and make the best decision possible for your own wellbeing, within the parameters set out for us by the government. Your tutor is happy to talk things through and our college nurse and counsellor are available to help support your wider health and wellbeing needs.
We continue to work with others across the University to seek further clarity on any remaining issues and to develop appropriate plans. In the meantime, please send any urgent questions to firstname.lastname@example.org so that the person best placed to help you can respond.
With my very best wishes – I remain really grateful for the stoicism, kindness, and patience shown by all those in our community.
Dr Anthony Freeling
University of Cambridge