Lecturers plan to strike after 2,600 students & staff test positive for Covid
5th October 2020

UNIVERSITIES are in the grip of a mass coronavirus outbreak as lecturers planned to strike over face-to-face teaching last night.

Students across Britain are stuck self-isolating in pokey flats as positive cases rise to over 2,600 youngsters and staff.

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But the real figure is thought to be nearly 10 times that as 90 per cent are not showing any symptoms. In Newcastle Northumbria University has the largest campus outbreak so far.

Almost 800 students were struck down with the virus, leaving lecturers considering whether to abandon face-to-face teaching at Northumbria altogether.

Despite 770 diagnosed with the virus, just 78 have symptoms. The cluster in Newcastle comes days after youngsters were snapped in the city centre breaking the rule of six.

Infected students will now self-isolate for 14 days along with thousands of flatmates who could also have it. The University and College Union is balloting staff on industrial action and have demanded that all teaching at Northumbria must move online immediately.

The record numbers have sparked fears for nearby Newcastle University.
Worried union chiefs have warned Newcastle University to avoid face-to-face teaching.

Iain Owens, University and College Union's official in the north told the Sunday Times: "This has changed everything." He added that Newcastle had not started face-to-face teaching yet and said: "We will be saying to them: learn the lesson from Northumbria. Do not start face-to-face teaching." At least 56 UK universities have Covid cases.

Newcastle University, Exeter, Bournemouth, and Oxford Brookes have all confirmed under 100 positive cases. Meanwhile the University of Manchester has recorded 382 positive cases since September 21.

UNIVERSITY FIGURES

  • Northumbria University: 770
  • Manchester University: 382
  • Birmingham University: Almost 300
  • University of Sheffield: More than 200
  • University of Liverpool: 177
  • Newcastle University: 94 students, seven members of staff
  • Oxford Brookes: 47
  • Exeter University: Around 70
  • Bournemouth University: "A very small number"
  • University of West England: 1 B
  • Bristol University: "A very small number"

'Illegal raves were held'

And last night sources at the University of Birmingham confirmed to The Sun almost 300 students and staff had tested positive for the virus. There have also been more than 200 cases at the University of Sheffield and 177 University of Liverpool.

Bosses at Manchester Metropolitan University asked around 1,700 students to isolate after 127 cases were confirmed. But many students have refused to follow isolation guidelines and £200 fines were issued at Manchester, Coventry and Bournemouth after illegal raves were held.

Last night Manchester Metropolitan bosses were probing videos obtained by The Sun which show students breaking the Rule of Six by attending a large house party. Videos show students crammed into a dark room with a DJ and flashing lights, thought to be on Manchester Metropolitan's Birely Fields campus.

Bosses threatened to take disciplinary action against anybody found to have broken covid rules. A spokesman said: "We have reminded students on a daily basis about the importance of following the guidelines around self-isolation to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"This video appears to show evidence of more than one household mixing and it is extremely disappointing to see the students putting themselves and others at risk like this. We will take disciplinary action against anyone we can identify and continue to stress the importance of taking individual responsibility for following the guidance that has been issued."

Oxford Brookes issued 150 fines after unruly students organised parties at halls of residences. The university, whose cases make up 70 per cent of coronavirus in the city, said out of 68 cases confirmed in the seven days up to 25 September, 47 were students.

In Southampton last week over 300 students received a ticking off following a huge party at the Hampshire university's 356-bed Chamberlain halls of residence. Youngsters were sent a threatening email by bosses which will remain on their Student Disciplinary record system for the duration of their studying.

The email also told students “even if you were not in attendance at the gathering last night, failure to report the incident means all residents of Chamberlain Hall will be held equally responsible”.


 

 

While self-isolating some students have struggled to get booze and food deliveries due to high demand. And The University of Leeds advised that students wash socks in the sink because Covid-19 restrictions mean they can't use the laundry facilities.

One first-year student said: "We’re not allowed to use laundry services and have been told to either buy more clothes online or wash our clothes the sink. We don’t have a working hoover to clean our halls flat either."

A Leeds University spokesman told the Daily Mirror: "Our Residence Life team is providing guidance to self-isolating students on food shopping, bin collection and self-isolating requirements in line with government guidance."

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