Scotland’s Education Secretary has urged students – even those who test negative for Covid-19 – to stay in their accommodation after hundreds were asked to self isolate due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
John Swinney said students staying in accommodation would minimise the spread of Covid-19 to other parts of the country.
Reports on Sunday claimed that some living in halls of residence had returned to their family home due to the circumstances.
Our advice to students is that they should stay in their halls if they are able to do soJohn Swinney
Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme, Mr Swinney said: “Our advice to students is that they should stay in their halls if they are able to do so and that’s to ensure that we minimise the spread of the virus around the country.
“It’s important that any student that is self-isolating or students in general in the situation that they are facing are given the full and proper support of the college or the university that is supporting them, and that’s an issue that we’ve prioritised in our discussions with universities in the course of the past few days.”
Mr Swinney said that even students who receive a negative test result for the virus should remain in place.
Mr added that the Scottish Government’s aim was to ensure that students will be able to return home for Christmas.
“It’s a bit of time away (Christmas), but it’s an absolute priority for the Scottish Government that first and foremost students are safe and are supported and are able to participate in their education,” he said.
“We also want to make sure that students are supported in every aspect of their wellbeing and crucially being able to get back home to families at Christmas time is a really important part of that work and that’s very much at the heart of our thinking.”
On Saturday, Glasgow University announced an increase in the support it would offer students in accommodation, including a refund of one month’s rent and a £50 food payment.
When asked if the Scottish Government would consider funding institutions across the country to bring in similar measures, The Education Secretary said they would consider any issues raised by universities principals.
Mr Swinney said: “We’ll consider any issues that come forward to us from the universities.
“Glasgow University has taken what I think is a bold and very appropriate move in the course of the last 24 hours.”