Universities join forces in student Covid warning
BRISTOL students have been warned they will face punishment if they continue to “risk lives” and ignore social distancing rules.
In a rare joint statement, the vice-chancellors of both the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol have reminded students of their “moral duty” to comply with measures to prevent coronavirus.
Steve West of UWE and Hugh Brady of Bristol released the statement on Wednesday following complaints about students’ behaviour.
They stressed the majority of students had adhered to the rules, and said their response had been “heartening” to see.
But they continued: “In recent weeks we have received some reports of students breaching public health guidance, particularly as it relates to social distancing.
“We would like to take this opportunity to be absolutely clear to you all this behaviour risks lives.
“Failure to [comply] risks not only your own health, but the health and safety of the community around you, your fellow students, local residents and staff who are working hard and at their own risk to support you.
“It also endangers the NHS and its staff, and increases the risk of a second lockdown.”
Students were warned that both institutions are “committed to taking disciplinary action against any student found to be in breach of the rules”.
They did not specify any examples of breaches but said it related to “behaviour in residences and the wider community”.
The statement concluded: “At this crucial time where some restrictions are being eased, please don’t put yourself or our wider community at unnecessary risk.
“We all have a moral duty as good citizens to support each other to limit the spread of Covid19. We have the ability to limit or accelerate the spread in our communities – please work with us to do the right thing and help limit it.”
UWE’s academic year officially ended on June 26 and Bristol University’s the week before, although both halted teaching much earlier in response to the pandemic.
Many students will want to make the most of living with their housemates and stay on for longer than usual, because the set-up in September could be very different.
The University of Bristol has already said it will be moving lectures online until January 2021, while UWE has said the first four weeks at least of the next academic year will be online.
There have been concerns nationally about a slump in the student housing market as a result of universities moving teaching online.