Returning home for Christmas

Get tested at Keele before you go home for Christmas to reduce the risk of travelling home, and therefore reduce the risk of transmission to families and communities once you arrive.

In line with Government guidance, our plans for the end of term include a variety of measures to make returning home as safe as possible.

These include:

  • Asking all students - both those living in term-time addresses on campus and off-campus - to return home on a specific date between December 5th and 9th. For those living on-campus, departure will be on a similar basis to the arrivals weekend, where you will be asked to book a slot for your departure. Certain students will be exempt from this, including those students from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences who will be on clinical placements, and those who plan to remain on campus for the duration of the Christmas period.
  • We will also be offering Covid-19 testing to our students before travelling home; this will provide students with additional assurances that, where tests are negative, there is a reduced risk in travelling home, and therefore a reduced risk of transmission to families and home communities once you arrive.

For those students wishing to return home for Christmas, we are providing access to Covid-19 testing from Monday 30th November - Saturday 5th December, so you can travel home from Saturday 5th December.

Get tested at Keele before you go home for Christmas.

FAQs: Returning Home Safely for Christmas

At Keele, teaching on campus will continue as normal until Friday 4th December. After this date, teaching will take place online until the official end of term on Friday 18th December.

How will my learning take place for the remainder of term?

Your school will be in touch separately about online learning from the point when you return home until the official end of term on Friday 18th December.

The Government has confirmed that

National restrictions, including on non-essential travel, have been introduced by the government to reduce transmission of COVID-19. This means that you should not leave your term-time accommodation during this period, except for specific purposes, including leaving home for education.  

This can be especially tough for students but avoiding moving between households can help to protect you and your family by reducing the risk of transmission if you decide to go home in December. 

The Government has confirmed that “Healthcare students who are on placements are considered essential workers and should therefore remain in their placements until the end of term. They can then travel home for the holidays, following the public health guidance and as per instructions outlined in the section on self-isolation. Many healthcare students on placements will already have access to priority testing. 

"Health Education England will provide guidance separately on exactly what courses fall within this category are eligible for this exemption."

The Government strongly recommends that you travel home on or before 9 December. However if you are unable to leave campus before the 9th December, we have support available to you over this period.

Anyone who remains at university after 9th December and contracts coronavirus (Covid-19) or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address and would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

The University will have services in operation throughout the vacation period to support students who are staying on campus during this time.

The Government strongly recommends that you travel home on or before 9 December. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9 December and contracts coronavirus (Covid-19) or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address and would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Healthcare students who are on placements are considered essential workers and should therefore remain in their placements until the end of term. They can then travel home for the holidays, following the public health guidance. Many healthcare students on placements will already have access to priority testing.

The Government has confirmed that

Yes, you will be able to, but you should travel at the right time, as explained below and in line with Keele’s departure schedule. The Government is committed to allowing students to travel home from their term-time address to join one other household (i.e. your family home).

Students will be able to start to travel home from 3 December, after the national restrictions come to an end, and it’s strongly recommended that you travel home on or before 9 December - the University will tell you when. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9 December and contracts coronavirus (Covid-19) or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address and would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Healthcare students who are on placements are considered essential workers and should therefore remain in their placements until the end of term. They can then travel home for the holidays, following the public health guidance and as per instructions outlined in the section on self-isolation. Many healthcare students on placements will already have access to priority testing.

The Government has confirmed that

If you study in England, you will only be required to take further measures at home (such as self-isolation) if you are informed by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate or a member of your term-time household has symptoms.  

You will need to follow any local guidance, keep social contact to a minimum, and take personal responsibility for your actions, to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible.   

The Government has confirmed that

You should not travel home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Typical symptoms include: a new continuous cough, a high temperature, and a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell. If you think you might have coronavirus, you must isolate immediately and book a test.    

  • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and can access testing via the mass testing programme, you should also seek a test. 
  • You must follow the rules on movement and self-isolation after taking a test.
  • If you test positive for coronavirus you must self-isolate in your current accommodation for a period of 10 days. 
  • If you test negative for coronavirus, but were identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive (a house mate for example), you can return home if you wish to do so, taking into account the risk of transmission to your family, but you must continue self-isolation at home for a period of 14 days. 

You should travel home via private transport wherever possible. If you have no other option than to use public transport, you should strictly follow the safer travel guidance for passengers, for instance by observing social distancing measures, wearing a face covering and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly during the journey. 

Remember, if you test positive after being identified as a contact of someone who also tested positive, you must self-isolate in your current accommodation for 10 days.   
If you test negative and are not a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you can travel home by any mode of transport and do not have to undertake any further periods of self-isolation.

The Government has confirmed: 

Yes. If this is the right choice for you, you should inform the University that you will be remaining at university. The government has asked all universities to support any students staying in their university over the winter break, including those who are self-isolating. We will be there to support you. 

If you’re alone it’s especially important to take care of your mental as well as physical health and seek support if needed. Along with support from our Student Services team, you can access support via the NHS, and their Every Mind Matters site has a range of tips and advice. Other online resources are available, including from the mental health charity, Mind, and the new Student Space platform. 

We are in regular communications with the professional bodies for all of our courses and will share details with you when they emerge.

Healthcare placement students should continue on their placements – these students are considered key workers and will be able to travel home at the end of placements.

The Government has confirmed that

Following the end of the period of national restrictions on 2 December, research students will be able to continue in-person research activities if the research cannot reasonably be conducted from home. However, where possible, research should be carried out at home, or without gathering with others. Research students can still travel home at the end of term, provided they do not test positive for coronavirus. 

The Government has confirmed that

The government is looking to make use of mass testing to make your return to university as safe as possible. Further guidance will be provided in the coming weeks, taking into consideration any future developments and relevant scientific advice. 

The Government has published a statement to say that “Following the end of term break, our top priority for January will be the welfare of students, staff and the communities around higher education providers. We are looking to utilise mass testing to make the return to higher education as safe as possible, and will provide further guidance in due course, considering future developments and the relevant scientific advice.”

We will therefore update our students and staff once this guidance is provided.

FAQs: Testing

From Monday 30th November we will operate a test centre to enable all students to be tested during that week, before returning home.

Access to testing will provide students living on-campus and in the local area with an extra level of assurance for those wanting to leave their term time address to travel to friends or family for Christmas. This will be co-ordinated with plans for the phased departure of students from campus and the local area which must be completed by the 9th December.

See our testing page for more details and to book your tests

If you test positive, you will be asked to self-isolate in your accommodation for 10 days, before travelling home in time for Christmas. We have services in place to support you if you need to self-isolate.

The Government has confirmed that if a student has been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive but can access testing via the mass testing programme, they should seek a test. If they test negative, they must still self-isolate for 14 days but this can be done at home if they wish to do so, taking into account the risk of transmission to their family. Students should only use public transport if they have no other option. They should strictly follow safer travel guidance for passengers.

The University is aiming to provide tests to all students who want them during the week of 30th November, so that students who test positive can complete any self-isolation period in time to be home for Christmas Day. This specific testing programme will therefore end on December 5th.

Testing will however continue to be available beyond this period to anybody with symptoms via the usual NHS testing programme. There is an NHS walk-in centre on campus for these tests and appointments should be booked via the NHS website.

You are strongly encouraged to get tested before you go home. This is not compulsory, but is intended to provide you with additional assurances that, where tests are negative, there is a reduced risk in travelling home, and therefore a reduced risk of transmission to families and home communities once you arrive. This not only protects your loved ones, but the wider public by minimising the spread of the virus.

FAQs: Travel

The Government strongly recommends that you travel home on or before 9th December. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9th December and contracts coronavirus (Covid-19) or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address and would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Healthcare students who are on placements are considered essential workers and should therefore remain in their placements until the end of term. They can then travel home for the holidays, following public health guidance. Many healthcare students on placements will already have access to priority testing.

If you are travelling home at the end of term, you should follow the government Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers.  

You can help to control coronavirus by:

  • wearing a face covering unless exempt 
  • keeping your distance from people from other households when you travel, where possible 
  • washing or sanitising your hands regularly 
  • taking a contactless payment option
  • avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times like the rush hour 
  • downloading the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel, if possible, and checking in where you see official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters. 
  • If travelling by public transport, you should try to book your journey ahead wherever possible. 

Train operators are advising you to check before you travel – some train services are currently limited, or not running as normal, due to the pandemic. In addition, some services, particularly at weekends, may not yet be showing in online booking systems, so cheaper fares may not yet be available. Where this is the case, please check regularly on the train operator’s website/social media to see when fares become available. 

If travelling by private vehicle, try to avoid car sharing with anyone outside your household or support bubble and follow the safer travel guidance for passengers to reduce the risk of transmission where this is not possible. 

The Government has confirmed that

Yes, a family member can pick you up in a private vehicle to take you home at the end of term. Your family member will not be required to self-isolate because of this. However, you should both strictly follow the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

You can reduce the risk of transmission by: 

  • opening windows for ventilation 
  • considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle 
  • cleaning your car between journeys using standard cleaning products - make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch 
  • wearing a face covering 

When you are being collected, please ensure that your family member does not enter your accommodation block – the only exception to this is if you have a disability which would otherwise make it difficult for you to vacate your room.

The Government has confirmed that

You can share a car with other students or friends that live in your household or belong to your support bubble to travel home at the end of term. However, you should both strictly follow the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers. 

You can reduce the risk of transmission by: 

  • opening windows for ventilation 
  • considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle 
  • cleaning your car between journeys using standard cleaning products - make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch 
  • wearing a face covering. 

You should not share a car with anyone outside of your household or support bubble to minimise the risk of transmission. 

The Government has confirmed that

Yes, governments across the UK are working to ensure that no matter where you live or study, you are treated fairly and can travel home as safely as possible to keep all our communities safe. 

There is a shared commitment to ensure that all students will be able to return home at the end of term, including where they will be moving between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of the four nations will publish their own guidance, linked to their wider national guidance, and will set out clearly what this means for students moving between the four nations and what guidance you’ll need to follow at each stage to keep yourself and your family safe. 

If you study in England, you will need to follow the guidance regarding self-isolation if you test positive for COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19. If you study in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you will not have completed the 4 week period of national restrictions in England, so we recommend that you undertake a period of at least 14 days reduced contact either before or after returning home. 

The Government has confirmed that

Yes, as long as you have not been informed by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate or a member of your term-time household has symptoms. If you are using public transport you should follow the safer travel guidance. This includes wearing a face covering unless you are exempt, planning your journey in advance to avoid busy times and routes, washing/sanitising your hands regularly, and keeping your distance while travelling where possible. 

Where possible, please book seats for train and coach travel as early as you can, so companies can monitor demand and adjust their services accordingly

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive (a house mate for example), but you test negative for coronavirus (COVID-19) vi.a the mass testing programme, you can return home if you wish to do so, taking into account the risk of transmission to your family, but you must continue self-isolation at home for a period of 14 days. 

You should travel home via private transport wherever possible – but if you have no other option than to use public transport, you should strictly follow the safer travel guidance for passengers, for instance by observing social distancing measures, wearing a face covering and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly during the journey. 

Remember, if you test positive, you must not use public or private transport, and self-isolate in your current accommodation for 10 days. 

Train passengers: Students who had already booked train tickets to travel home for Christmas before the announcement of the student travel window can now rebook their tickets to travel between 3 to 9 December (2020) without paying additional fees.

Students who bought an Advance ticket before 11 November (2020) for a date of travel after 9 December can now change their Advance tickets to travel during the window without paying a change of journey fee of up to £10.

Flexible tickets such as Off Peak or Anytime can already be rebooked to another date without payment of an admin fee.

Coach passengers: For students who have booked journeys by coach in advance, most passengers should already be able to make changes to their booking for free. Check with your operator for more information.

Please look through the international student FAQs section below and remember that before you travel, you should:

  • Check the COVID-19 entry requirements for your destination country
  • Speak to your travel insurer
  • Check with your carrier for latest developments at your destination
  • Plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes

In line with government advice, you need to: 

  • Speak to AIG – the University’s insurer 
  • Check GOV.UK for advice on returning to the UK 
  • Plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes 
  • Complete your Passenger Locator Form before you return to the UK  
  • Speak to the Global Opportunities Team 

Please get in touch with our Global Opportunities team if you have any questions. 

I’m a UK student currently studying abroad – what do I need to do?

The government advises that you need to:

  • Speak to AIG – the University’s insurer

  • Check GOV.UK for advice on returning to the UK

  • Plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes

  • Complete your Passenger Locator Form before you return to the UK

  • Speak to the Global Opportunities Team

 

Please get in touch with our Global Opportunities team if you have any questions.

FAQs: International Students

If you are an international student, please let us know if you are staying on campus, or will be travelling home for Christmas. Our Student Services team will then be in touch to support you.  

If you are an international student and are planning to return home at the end of the period of national restrictions (after 2 December) for the winter break, you should adhere to Public Health England advice whilst in England to ensure you are travelling safely. You should not travel if you have symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) or are part of a household group which is self-isolating.   

If you do travel overseas, you should also consider whether you need to self-isolate when you return, and are advised to check any restrictions in the country you are travelling to, and whether you will also need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country.  

You should also consider whether you can access course materials overseas should you choose to travel home. You should be aware that travel advice may change while you are overseas, and you are advised to regularly check all relevant GOV.UK guidance pages for updates.  

The authorities in the country or territory that you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing their own rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and also the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice. 

Students travelling to the EU should also consult the relevant guidance regarding the UK and EU Transition.  

Before you travel, you should:

  • Check the COVID-19 entry requirements for your destination country
  • Speak to your travel insurer
  • Check with your carrier for latest developments at your destination
  • Plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes

 

 

 

 

We have a dedicated International Student Support Team. If you need further advice or support, please contact Student Services.

If you do want to go home for the Christmas period then you should plan to do so between December 5th and 9th as the Government has recommended.  

We appreciate though that international students may not be able to travel home easily, or during these dates. Please note that the guidance issued by the government acknowledges that not all students will return home. If you choose to stay at your term-time address, please rest assured that there will be a programme of campus support and online activities available, and we will provide more information about these in due course. 

We also recognise that travel options may be restricted, especially where travel arrangements need to be changed. Please be reassured that we will continue to offer support after the 9th of December – please contact Student Services and we can advise you. 

This will depend on the country you are travelling to. Please see the above question: How do I find out what the rules are for travelling to other countries from the UK? Please contact Student Services for further advice and support.