Speaking to The Guardian in an article published Wednesday about coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19, Steve West, the Vice-Chancellor and CEO of UWE said “My bottom line back to government has been that they can’t treat universities like big schools because we aren’t. I’ve got 4,500 students living on campus: some of them are care leavers or estranged from their families and many are international students. We can’t just shut down as they would have nowhere to go.”
UWE has over 30,000 students and 3000 staff.
Furthermore, Professor West added that, in the event of a shutdown of the campus, “[UWE] would operate something like a Christmas shutdown. The things you can shut down you do, such as lectures and sports. But you also have to provide vital support services for the students still here, including security, catering, wellbeing support and emergency phone lines.”
In a response for comment by HUB Magazine, UWE’s Press Office provided this statement:
“In the unlikely event of a University or campus closure, information will be available on the UWE Bristol website homepage in the first instance. If you do not have internet access, you can call the University on +44 (0)117 965 6261. Local radio announcements may also be made. Please follow the University’s official communication channels for up to date and accurate information. As well as our main website, this also includes @UWEBristol on Twitter.”
Regularly updated guidance about COVID-19 from UWE is available on a dedicated page on their website.
These comments come the day before it was revealed that a student at the University of Bristol has tested positively for the disease, after returning to Bristol from abroad.
Public Health England is following up the case, tracing and advising contacts according to national guidance and protocol.
Christina Gray, Director of Public Health for Bristol City Council, said: “We can confirm a positive case of COVID-19 at the University of Bristol. We are working closely with the university to manage the situation and reduce further risk.
“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure any risk to them and the wider public can be minimised.
“Further cases of COVID-19 are expected in Bristol as we see rises in diagnoses across the UK. We are fully prepared for this. We are working with city partners in the NHS and health and social care teams to contain the virus spread, and help the public understand what they can do to avoid catching the virus.
“We are unable to report every confirmed case, however the latest statistics are available on the national Gov.uk website.
“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
“If you have recently been to one of the affected areas and are feeling unwell, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111 for further advice straight away – please don’t go to your doctor or a hospital. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus”.
Featured photo: Jack Fifield