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University of Suffolk's students and staff to get rapid-result Covid-19 tests after returning in January

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All staff and students returning to the University of Suffolk in the New Year will get rapid-result tests for Covid-19, it has been announced.

Appointments for lateral flow testing – those which can return results within around half an hour – will begin from January 4, with students and staff being tested regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble told Friday’s local outbreak engagement board meeting that all students would be tested twice within four-to-eight weeks of the start of term.

University of Suffolk's Waterfront Building, Ipswich. Picture by Mark Westley
University of Suffolk's Waterfront Building, Ipswich. Picture by Mark Westley

“Testing is a really important part of our strategy around managing Covid. We need to test, we need to isolate, we need to support people to do those things, but it is an important part,” he said.

“What our strategy in Suffolk will be about is really focusing on high risk settings and high risk places.

“As part of coming back into the new university year we will be working with the University of Suffolk to help them test each of their students twice using the lateral flow devices over the first four-to-eight weeks of term.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health

“University is a higher risk setting because of the students living in close proximity in the accommodation.”

The plan follows guidance from the Department for Education over the return of students to halls of residence for the spring term, which includes facilitating testing for all and staggered start times.

Tim Greenacre, chief operating officer at the University of Suffolk, said: “Working with the Suffolk County Council public health team, the university is putting in place a full-service provision of lateral flow device testing to all of our students and staff.

“This will be run as an appointment service from January 4, 2021.

“This will not only allow the safe transition of students returning to the area following the Christmas break, but will also provide testing for those based locally.

“The safety and wellbeing of our university community is our number one priority, so we are pleased to be able to offer this testing facility.

“We have also reintroduced a blended approach to learning and teaching whereby online teaching will continue to take place before face-to-face teaching is reintroduced once the testing programme has begun.”

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