The Welsh Government has announced plans for the return of students to Welsh universities after the Christmas break.
Students will be asked to return to campus over a four week period, starting from 11 January, with there being a phased return to in-person teaching.
The announcement comes after similar plans were announced last week for the return of students to universities in England after the Christmas break.
In Wales, students will be asked to take a lateral-flow test on their return to university accommodation, isolate for three days and then take a second lateral-flow test. Students who do not get tested will be advised to lay low and not mix with others for 14 days when they return to term-time accommodation.
The measures are designed to ensure a safe return to university accommodation, with the hope that it will reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Speaking about the plans, Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams said;
“I know students will be eager to return to their university campus after the Christmas break, but will want to do that in a safe way.
“Students will also want to return to learning in person, where it’s safe to do so. We’re putting these measures in place to ensure confidence in a return to learning in-person and minimise the risk of large numbers of students needing to self-isolate during the term.
“The lateral-flow testing programme will also play a role in the safe resumption of learning on campus. A managed, phased return will help meet demand, so that all students can access two tests. This will help break chains of transmission, as anyone unknowingly infectious can self-isolate and reduce the risk of passing the virus to others.”
Ms Williams added that ensuring the continuation of study for learners of all ages has been a “priority” for the Welsh Government.
Becky Ricketts, NUS Wales President said that students “now have the certainty they need to plan their return to campus in the new year”.
Under guidance published by the Welsh Government, universities should not delay the start of term, but instead, plan to resume online learning.
The guidance reads, “The Welsh Government is asking students not to travel to term-time accommodation until 11 January unless absolutely necessary and to align travel with the start of in-person teaching.”
The guidance does though note that some students may need to return to term-time accommodation earlier in order to “resume work or study, to volunteer or because students need to resume placements.”