STUDENTS should stay at home to study next term to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to a leading public health expert.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said it would be safer if students going home for Christmas could remain there for the new semester.
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Most teaching is now provided online and the expert believes it would be unreasonable to tell students they could not return home for the festive period.
Professor Bauld told the Times: “We need to be ready for this, and there are several important considerations.
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“First, it’s now clear what the mode of delivery will be for teaching from January, so if students can study from home, they should do so.
“For those who need to return, testing needs to be available on arrival, and support for self-isolation where needed.”
However, there are concerns about a large movement of young people after Christmas, especially from higher-risk areas.
Last week deputy first minister John Swinney suggested a “staggered” return to campus following the festive break, to avoid a repeat of the crisis at the start of term that led to hundreds testing positive for Covid-19.
Students complained of prison-like conditions when they were locked down in halls of residence in September after Covid outbreaks, leading to pressure on ministers to allow them to return home for Christmas.
The Scottish Government’s new strategic framework document published last month acknowledged challenges about the winter break.
It indicated that up to 150,000 university students could leave their term-time addresses over the break, threatening increases in virus transmission.
While the framework stops short of suggesting students should study from home next term, it said the Scottish government is developing a package of options to support…