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Living in Student Halls During Coronavirus: 5 Things You Need to Know

5 Things You Need to Know About Living in Student Halls During the Coronavirus Pandemic main image

Despite the newfound hope of a coronavirus vaccine, coronavirus cases are still rising around the world.

As a result many countries are either in, or going into, a second lockdown. In the UK, universities are exempt from these restrictions, but many universities are still choosing to move lectures and seminars online to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

With so many students isolating in their university halls, changes have been made to ensure that students are keeping safe in their student accommodation.

We spoke to Scape, a luxury student accommodation provider offering student accommodation throughout the UK, Australia and Ireland, to find out how they’re helping students stay safe during the coronavirus crisis.

They revealed five things students need to know about living in student accommodation during the pandemic.

Universities want students to stay social (but safe)

social but safe

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, students won’t be able to socialize at university as much as they usually might.

However, universities and student accommodation providers understand how important it is for students to be able to socialize with each another and encourage students to do so virtually.

“The next few weeks and months will be difficult for many people but it’s important for students to remember that they can reach out for help,” said Neil Smith, Scape’s UK Managing Director.

He added: “We encourage all students to stay in touch with family and friends through regular calls and to get outside to see a friend for exercise when they can.”

Alongside staying social, Scape encourage students to stay active. Smith explained that online fitness classes are a great way to look after your physical and mental health. For this reason, Scape have recently partnered with FRAME to offer residents online fitness classes over the lockdown period.

Smith said: “We believe that these types of wellbeing initiatives are key to looking after the mental health of students to ensure they remain comfortable in their student accommodation during this time.

“Things may still seem a little uncertain, but we’re finding ways to help our residents remain positive and have fun while in their student accommodation.”

Online workout classes not for you? Here’s several other ways you can stay healthy at home.

Student halls are following Government advice

government advice

Universities and private student halls are monitoring and adhering to the latest advice from the UK Government and the WHO.

This advice covers the procedure for dealing with a coronavirus breakout in student halls, as well as mental health advice.

The UK Government writes on their website that student halls must operate a ‘non eviction’ policy. This means that students cannot be forced to leave halls once their contract is up, if they cannot pay rent or if their accommodation does not cover holiday periods, such as Christmas.

Read the full advice here.

Student mental health is being prioritized

student mental health

Student accommodation providers understand that living in student accommodation for a long period of time without being able to socialize in person or see friends and family will inevitably be difficult for students.

The UK Government writes: “Staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, particularly if there is no access to outside space. It is important to take care of mental as well as physical health and seek support if needed.”

Student accommodation providers are trying to do everything possible to make it easier for students to look after their mental health.

Smith said: “It’s important to recognize that going to university is a stressful experience as it is, let alone during a pandemic.

“Students should feel assured that their universities and accommodation providers are doing their utmost to provide a safe, clean and healthy environment for them.

“Students should be aware that it is okay to ask for help. To seek help, students should consult with a general practice doctor or call an appropriate helpline that can deal with and recognize mental health issues.”

The NHS has created a comprehensive list of mental health charities to help find support for your mental health.

Student Minds also offers support services through Student Space, which can offer mental health support over the phone, via email or text or through webchat.

You will also be able to find support for your mental health at university.

“Looking after both their physical and mental health means that students will be in good stead to achieve their potential academically, and to feel happy and healthy throughout their course and beyond,” said Smith.

To help students with their mental health, Scape have a team of mental health practitioners, trained by Student Minds.

Smith said: “Scape has ensured that the front of house teams are mental health first aid trained so they are able to spot the signs and know how to step in to help.”

Strict hygiene measures have been introduced

Strict hygiene measures

Most student accommodation providers have also introduced significantly stricter hygiene measures following government advice, with more regular deep cleaning of communal areas and the introduction of social distancing.

Smith said: “Following the government’s advice and to minimize the risk of infections in our buildings we have put the following extra measures in place: closure of communal areas, suspension of room cleans and suspension of the guest policy.

“We are disinfecting the communal areas, lifts and door handles on a regular basis. Hand sanitizer is placed at the reception for residents and staff members to use.

“We keep regular communication with residents and if you experience any symptoms related to COVID-19 we are offering support during the self-isolation period with food deliveries and rubbish collection.”

There are procedures in place if you catch the coronavirus

procedures if you catch coronavirus

There are strict measures in place if someone in your student accommodation catches COVID-19.

Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate in their accommodation, the UK Government has said.

Students should then alert the accommodation managers or university who will assess if anyone else in the household is required to self-isolate.

This is likely to include “students living in the same flat or on the same floor who share cooking or washing facilities, or both,” the UK Government wrote on its website.

Smith said: “We are committed to following advice from the authorities and will be helping residents who need to self-isolate to do the same. 

“If someone is self-isolating from within a student’s cluster due to symptoms, as per guidance from the authorities we advise that the student does the same.”

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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