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Covid in Scotland: “troubled” students said they can go home

Student in the halls of Glasgow

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Students fighting for college housing following a wave of Covid epidemics have been told they can go home.

But Education Minister Richard Lochhead said he did not expect a “mass exodus”

; after the updated guidelines were published by the Scottish government.

The guide also says students can visit parents if there is a “reasonable excuse” such as a family emergency.

But short stays without one are still considered a “crime”.

The guidelines were issued after a flood of complaints from students who felt trapped in college or university housing.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland program, Mr Lochhead said: “I know a lot of students are struggling right now, but I also know that a lot of students accept that they want to be in college.

“It is challenging at the moment, especially if they isolate themselves, but they are enjoying the opportunity to make new connections, to at least meet their tutors, even though much of their learning is online.

“So I don’t expect a mass exodus from Scottish campuses, but the opportunity is there for those who are struggling.”

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Multimedia captionMinister Richard Lochhead said if you have a “reasonable excuse” you can leave your student accommodation

Students who decide to permanently return to another home were asked to follow self-isolation rules and not to use public transport.

The new guidelines were welcomed by the student union NUS Scotland.

Its president Matt Crilly said, “Today’s guide provides welcome clarity to students in the classrooms, who will evaluate their next steps.

“We welcome the fact that students can return home on a permanent basis. However, we are disappointed that the government continues to talk openly about teaching in person, which could keep students on campus and unnecessarily increase the risks.

“We continue to ask the Scottish Government to strengthen teaching guidance so that distance learning is the default and a reality for as many students as possible.”

“Halls of Horror”

But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the picture was still “muddled” and criticized the guide being published so late on Sunday.

He told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “On the one hand the students are told they can go home, then they are told they can go home if there are certain circumstances and I think there are still questions about what those circumstances are. “.

Mr. Ross also said ministers should have anticipated problems given the spike in cases seen in the US as colleges and universities returned for the new academic year.

He added: “This guide should have been absolutely clear before these young people left their homes and certainly before they got to college and were, in many cases, locked up in horror classrooms.”

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the guide provided some clarity to the students, but called on ministers to go further.

Speaking to the program, he said: “We need those asymptomatic routine tests to make sure people know if they are negative so they can go home and continue their studies.”

Mr. Rennie also called for rent discounts and mental health support for students after a wave of outbreaks across the country, which he said was predictable.

He added: “This has been the largest movement of people since the blockade began, so it was inevitable that we would have it.”

Student health

The body representing Scottish universities has stated that student well-being must be a priority.

Prof Gerry McCormac, Convener of Universities Scotland, said: “With the support of their universities, students must choose what is right for their physical and mental health.

“Unfortunately, the current situation with this pandemic means that these choices need to be balanced in the broader public health context.

“We believe staying at university this semester is a real benefit and benefiting from the combination of digital and in-person learning and the widest range of services and support available.”

Prof McCormac added: “It has been a very difficult start to the new academic year for the entire student community, both for those returning to university, and especially those attending for the first time.”

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