Welsh Government statement on student travel for the winter holidays
The Welsh Government on the 11th November issued a statement in conjunction with Welsh universities, including Swansea, on the travel situation facing many as we come closer to the christmas period.
Kirsty Williams, the Welsh Minister for Education, clarified in a public statement that enabling students to travel home safely for the Christmas period was a top priority. She said “We must do all we can to support people to see their loved ones as safely as possible.” In the statement, the minister outlined a two point system which would allow the smoothest possible transition.
Firstly, any in-person university teaching currently taking place must stop by the week leading up to the 8th of December. For most students, lectures have been purely taking place online for the past two and a half months, however for students who have been attending in person lectures, they should prepare to begin online lectures from the 8th December.
Secondly, the Minister for Education outlined a set of guidelines for students that wish to return home for the Christmas period. Students are urged to make travel arrangements by the 9th of December by the very latest. Additionally, the Welsh Government plans to make tests available to any students who wish to receive one and are urging them to take the opportunity, as they push to provide time for students to isolate if they need to before returning to their loved ones.
The asymptomatic testing scheme is a testing pilot that could prove to be essential to testing large communities and tackling further transmission. Kirsty Williams concluded by stating “the need to balance people’s rights and support their wellbeing with the desire to protect our families, friends and communities from the risk of infection remains challenging, and I am grateful to our universities, student’s unions, staffing unions, staff and students for their positive engagement on these difficult issues”.
Later that week, on the 12th of November, Swansea University distributed its own message to students referring to the ministers statement. The university confirmed that it was “investigating the logistics” of the asymptomatic testing system as they reiterated the importance of allowing students to travel home for christmas alongside reassurance that students who wished to stay in their residence for the holidays were welcome to do so.
The university promises to keep students updated with their teaching and testing arrangements in the lead up to Christmas, however precise or even approximate timeframes were not disclosed.