Liverpool Hope University has revealed new details about how students can safely return home to their families this Christmas - and break the chain of Covid-19 transmission in the process.
Last week the Government announced how those at university would be allowed to return home between Thursday December 3rd and Wednesday December 9th - in what’s being called the ‘student travel window’.
Now Hope has issued its own guidance - informing students they’ll need to visit a Covid-19 testing centre on campus - and return two negative test results before they’re able to commence their journey.
Dr Penny Haughan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Life & Learning, said: “We recognise just how important it is for our students to be with their families over the festive period and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen, while also ensuring the safety of the wider community.
“We’ll have extensive Covid-19 testing facilities for students at both our Hope Park and Creative campuses.
“Two negative tests mean you’re free to travel. And because we’re beginning testing early in December, even those who do test positive and have to isolate still have enough time to make it home to their loved ones for Christmas.”
Here’s everything you need to know about how the pre-Christmas testing will work:
Who needs to get tested?
Every foundation, undergraduate and taught postgraduate student currently studying at Liverpool Hope University should be tested before travelling - whether you’re in a Hope Hall of Residence or in private accommodation. But you don’t need to book a test if you study remotely or you commute to campus from your family home.
If you’re an international student planning to travel home, you must check your country’s requirements for leaving the UK and entering your home country.
Do I need to do anything before I leave within the travel window?
Yes, you need to return TWO negative Covid-19 tests before you can travel.
The tests also need to be three days apart and as close as possible to the date of departure from University.
When can I travel home?
You should travel home within 24 hours of receiving your second negative test result.
Can I use public transport to travel home?
You can, but you must abide by the Government’s ‘safer travel guidance’ - full details here - which includes wearing a face covering unless exempt and downloading the NHS COVID-19 app before travelling.
Why do I need to do two tests - won’t one suffice?
Research suggests the current lateral flow ‘lateral flow’ antigen test has been found to have high specificity but with slightly lower sensitivity i.e. potential to miss some Covid-19 positive cases.
Therefore the two tests conducted close to each other are a measure to pick up any
case that was missed in the first round or newly developed cases.
Where can I get tested?
Hope will be operating two Covid-19 test centres - one in the sports hall at the Hope Park site, the other in the Great Hall on the Creative Campus.
The University shuttle bus will continue to run - under social distancing guidelines - between Hope Park and the Creative Campus, in case you have a preference for a particular centre.
Both locations have wheelchair access.
Do I need an appointment?
No, just simply turn up. The testing facilities will be open from 10am to 5pm. The Hope Park facility is open now and will remain open until 11 December, the Creative Campus testing site will be operational from November 30th onwards until 4 December.
What sort of test is it?
The test you’ll be required to take is a so-called ‘lateral flow test’, designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms, but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others.
(YOu can watch an explanatory video here)
By taking a test, you will help to stop the spread of the virus, protect other people and save lives.
And what does the test involve?
Lateral flow antigen tests are intended to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad.
The experience can be mildly unpleasant, but not unduly so, and it lasts a matter of seconds.
Will I be given instructions if I’m not sure how to do the test?
You’ll be greeted by a trained member of staff who will talk you through the procedure. You’ll have access to a mirror so you can apply the swab to the correct area of the mouth.
Lateral flow tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation including at Public Health England’s research laboratories to ensure they are verified for use.
Another little tip - holding your breath while swabbing your mouth helps to suppress the gag reflex.
Is there anything else I need to bring with me?
You need to bring your mobile phone with you, as well as being able to provide your mobile number and email address - as this is how your results will be transmitted to you, typically within 30 minutes.
I’m already self isolating - should I leave home to get a test?
No, stay where you are. If you're already self-isolating due to contact with a confirmed case, you should not leave to get tested until your self-isolation period ends, and as long as you have not developed symptoms.
If you're self-isolating because you do have COVID symptoms, or have tested positive, you can email our Covid Control Team on email@example.com for further advice.
Do I have to do the test in front of other people?
No, you’ll have the privacy of a separate booth or you’ll be shielded from view by a screen.
What if I return a positive test?
Firstly, you need to let Hope’s dedicated Covid Control Team know about it, simply by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, who will then give you precise instructions on how long you need to isolate for.
A positive result also requires you to undertake a confirmatory ‘PCR’ test. You can book this via the NHS website - link here - or by calling 119 in England (When booking online, tick the box that says you’re part of the ‘government pilot project’ in Liverpool).
A PCR test is different to a lateral flow test in that it looks for the virus’s genetic material
(Ribonucleic acid or RNA) and requires a laboratory to be processed.
If you have a positive antigen test but get a negative result on the PCR test, your contacts do
not need to be traced and you can stop isolating.
Do I need to self-isolate between the two lateral flow tests?
No, not if you are negative on the first test.
What if I’m already displaying symptoms?
In that case do NOT come to us for the lateral flow test - contact the NHS immediately and arrange a test with them.
If I test positive, does that scupper my chances of going home?
Not at all. There’s enough time for you to return a positive test, to isolate for the required time, and then return two negative tests in due course, all before the Christmas period begins.
What happens if I’m exempted from wearing a mask or face covering?
Appropriate face coverings need to be worn throughout the testing process whilst in the
testing facility apart from when guided by a testing professional to remove it when your
sample is taken. Should you have age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face
covering, please wear a visor to the site and alert the site manager about your situation as
soon as you arrive at site so that they can take additional precautions.
I’d like to stay in my hall of residence over the Christmas period - what do I need to do?
You need to inform your Senior Resident Tutor at the earliest opportunity.
Can my family get tested too?
No, this test is aimed at students and staff in universities. Family members of staff and
students are not eligible. If family members experience COVID-19 symptoms, they must
follow standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test.
I live at home - do I still need to be tested?
The testing programme is intended for students who are leaving university for the festive period and travelling to another location.
What about when we return to University after Christmas?
The Government has indicated that they are considering plans to test all students upon their return to campus, by way of another round of lateral flow tests. Further details about post-Christmas testing plans will be announced in due course.