We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Notice about the Covid-19 infection

Members of our local communities

As coronavirus continues to affect our region, we are operating with the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and the communities of which we are part as our top priority.

We are working closely with Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary, Public Health England, the NHS and other agencies and services to ensure our planning is co-ordinated; and we are in regular contact with local residents and representatives to share our planning and receive feedback.

We are all part of the Durham community and we all have a duty to help keep each other safe. We are communicating regularly with our staff and students to remind them of the latest Covid-19 guidelines. To read our recent communications, please click here (the link is at the bottom of the page).

We have also updated our Student Pledge, which links to our Non-Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedure, to reflect these responsibilities.

On this page, find out more about how we're planning for the year ahead and arrangements for:

Planning for a safe and successful year

Although about 1,500 students have opted for online-only tuition this year, we expect most students, both new and returning students, to be with us here in Durham from September, ready for undergraduate teaching to begin on Monday 5 October.

Working with Durham County Council public health teams and the wider community, we have have developed robust health and safety plans, informed by UK government guidance, that will enable us to meet the challenges posed by Covid-19 in a changing environment.

Also, an Outbreak Response Plan is in place, setting out how the University would work with partners to respond to clusters or outbreaks of varying sizes. For more details, please see below.

International students began arriving from mid-September, with new UK/EU students arriving from Thursday 24 September.

Arrival and quarantine arrangements

For students who are living in a College during 2020/21 and need to quarantine (self-isolate) on arrival in Durham, we are providing free of charge accommodation in College.

For students living in private accommodation who need to self-isolate on arrival in Durham, we have asked them to do so in their new home.

However, if they are unable to do this or want to self-isolate at the University before moving into private accommodation, we are making a limited number of rooms available, free of charge.

For international students arriving in the UK, we also provide a free welcome and transfer service from Newcastle International Airport, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

All students living in College arriving by the weekend of September 25 are being asked to remain in their College grounds from Sunday 27th September until the morning of Wednesday 30th September, except for a College induction event, an academic commitment or employment purposes.

Students living in the City will not be allowed to visit their College for the first two weeks.

Induction Week and student activities

Induction Week, from September 28, will be a mix of face-to-face and online events. To reduce the risk, we have decided not to organise events to take place in the City. Many of the annual fixtures of Induction Week, such as presentations by the police and fire service, will be by pre-recorded video.

University sport trials and training, face-to-face performing arts auditions and rehearsals, meetings of clubs and societies and volunteering projects will be paused until a review in mid-October.

Student Support and Wellbeing Services will operate in person and online.

If you are out and about in the City, you may see large marquees in place. Please be assured these are to allow events, such as fitness classes and induction talks, to take place in a Covid-safe manner and in line with Government regulations and guidelines – not to facilitate mass gatherings.

Student life - in College and living out

Our Colleges will be operating under Covid-19 restrictions, based on establishing households that vary in size depending on the infrastructure of the College. They will be up to 18 students, with very few exceptions for operational reasons.

In some cases households will be divided into sub-households with their own kitchen and bathroom facilities.

These arrangements will be adjusted in line with changes to the government’s Covid-19 alert level. We have removed some bedrooms and changed cleaning regimes and catering provision to ensure safety.

Outside Colleges, students who live in Colleges must follow all UK government guidelines. This means that outside of College students must not be in groups of more than six and they must socially distance from anyone not in their household.

Multiple households are allowed to meet for organised events in Colleges, but social distancing or alternative measures will apply.

For students 'living out', their household is their house or flat. Households cannot combine to form larger households or mix, so no house parties or other social gatherings in homes or gardens.

We are liaising closely with providers of Purpose Built Student Accommodation and private landlords.

Teaching and learning

In the first term, teaching with larger numbers of students, such as lectures, will be available online either synchronously (live) or asynchronously (pre-recorded). Teaching in smaller-group settings, such as seminars, tutorials and practicals – will be delivered face to face on campus, where this is possible and can be done safely. Other small group teaching sessions will be available digitally.

Introducing our University Security Community Response Team

If you see anyone breaking Covid-19 legislation, we would urge you to report this to Durham Constabulary via their online live chat.

In addition, we want to do what we can as a major partner in the City to support local services. We already provide financial support for a term-time police presence and Durham County Council’s Neighbourhood Wardens scheme.

Now, we are additionally investing significantly in an out-of-hours University Security Community Response Team. These colleagues will be available from 8.30pm to 4.30am, seven nights a week, to support the police with student engagement, education and encouragement around Covid-19 legislation and local restrictions.

They will work both pro-actively, patrolling student areas, and reactively, supporting the police in responding to incidents. So please continue to report suspected Covid-19 legislation breaches through the police as above.

Testing and Reporting

We have developed processes to capture information from staff and students who have Covid-19 symptoms or who have tested positive, and communicated these to staff and students.

And to increase access to coronavirus testing, we’re working with Durham County Council to set up a Mobile Testing Unit at Howlands Park and Ride for three weeks from Monday 28th September – with the option of extending this if needed. This will be for members of the University and the local community. Tests are by appointment only – bookable via the Government website or calling 119.

Our Outbreak Response Plan

What is the Outbreak Response Plan?

The Plan outlines the process, roles, responsibilities and terms of reference for responding to clusters or outbreaks of Covid-19 that might adversely impact upon students, staff, operations or the local community. The UK Government Department for Education has made creating an Outbreak Response Plan a key requirement in permitting universities to operate for the 2020/21 academic year.

Who wrote the Outbreak Response Plan?

The University developed the Plan in consultation with Durham County Council’s Public Health Team. It’s intended to complement the Council’s Local Outbreak Management Plan. It has been approved the Public Health team and by the UK Government Department for Education.

How is the Outbreak Response Plan being kept up to date?

The Plan is intended to provide guidance, and be flexible so that it can be adapted for different scenarios. However, it is being continually reviewed and updated.

What is in the Outbreak Response Plan?

Details of mitigation measures which are in place at the University to reduce risk.

These include: a ‘Five Test model’ for opening buildings, conducting higher risk activities such as large group lectures online, enhanced cleaning, provision of hand sanitiser, use of face coverings, including in face-to-face teaching sessions, and clear signage and induction materials so that members of the University community know what is expected of them.

For more information on how we are reducing the risk of coronavirus spreading on our campus, please see our Covid-19 Campus Management Plan.

The Plan also details: what would trigger a response to a cluster or outbreak; how an Outbreak Control Team would operate; and how the University and Public Health England would communicate between organisations.

It outlines the role of the University’s Incident Control Centre (ICC) in an outbreak, which could include operating 24 hours-a-day; and how students and staff should report having Covid-19 symptoms.

How would the Outbreak Response Plan be invoked?

The Plan includes details of how it should be invoked, if needed, both in core operating hours and out of hours. In both scenarios, an Outbreak Control Team would be established, including representatives from key areas across the University and external agencies.

How does the Outbreak Response Plan consider different scenarios?

The Plan is intended to provide guidance, and be flexible enough to be adapted to different scenarios. It includes an Outbreak Response Matrix, which considers six potential scenarios:

  • i) No clusters detected;
  • ii) A cluster or outbreak affecting a corridor, a block within a College or a household of students living out;
  • iii) A cluster or outbreak affecting a whole College;
  • iv) A cluster or outbreak affecting a whole Department;
  • v) A local lockdown affecting the whole campus and local area, and
  • vi) Transition out of a lockdown.
For each of the scenarios, the appropriate response is detailed for: Human Resources and staff welfare, student welfare, College operations, student events, groups and gatherings, teaching, central operations, research, communications and Library services.

How is the Outbreak Response Plan being communicated?

The Plan is published in full on our website. Guidance for students and staff is being published on our coronavirus web pages and this summary is being published and promoted internally and externally.

What if I have more questions?

Please visit our coronavirus web pages, where you will find lots more information and contact details for the Incident Control Centre, should you require them.

The images used on this page were taken prior to UK government Covid-19 restrictions.