We speak to students isolating at Cairncross House and Murano Street Student Village to find out what it's really been like.
As of yesterday, 124 students at the University of Glasgow have tested positive for coronavirus, and 600 students are currently self-isolating. The outbreak is currently affecting students living at the Murano Street Student Village and Cairncross House residences.
The University is planning to set up a mobile testing centre at Murano, student unions will be closed this weekend, and all affected households are isolating. Students will face disciplinary action should they break any of the restrictions announced by the Scottish government. A statement from the University said the action taken may include termination of student accommodation contracts and suspension from the university.
The University has announced they are supplying food and essential items to those currently isolating.
The Glasgow Guardian spoke to several students affected by the outbreak.
One student in a 12-person flat at Murano told The Glasgow Guardian she received confirmation of her positive test results today. She said seven people out of 12 have tested positive for coronavirus, with two of them still awaiting test results. Regardless, all of the students in the flat will need to self-isolate for 14 days since a portion of them are testing negative. They are mainly reporting as asymptomatic, with those who are experiencing symptoms, originally putting them down to bad hangovers. The flat decided to get tested after one of her flatmates invited her friend over, who then later tested positive for coronavirus.
When asked where she believed the outbreak started, she said: "It probably was parties. They died down quite quickly but the first weekend that we were here there was some quite big parties."
Despite none of the students in the flat having met before, they are making the most of their experience: "I'm kind of glad we needed to isolate in the second week because we did get to know each other a bit before we were all trapped indoors for 14 days." She added: "It's quite a nice bonding experience."
She told The Glasgow Guardian she had planned to take books out of the library to complete her essential reading, but she is now unable to go to the library and the books are not available online. She added: "I thought if I was in isolation I can really get up to speed on everything, I've got plenty of time to do it. But, I'm just gonna have to fall behind on that, because I don't really have another option."
Lucia, a first-year student from Edinburgh living in Murano, was quite concerned about the late arrival of mobile testing to student accommodation, telling The Glasgow Guardian that it had only arrived this morning. She added: “I know people who have had to walk to the nearest test centre before this to get tested and the majority of people within halls have been self-isolating for a while, so this is not ideal, these services could’ve been offered to us sooner."
In addition to this, the accommodation rules have not been made clear in terms of guidance, leaving many students confused and unsure. Lucia shared that she has “not been made aware of any disciplinary actions made against other flats within Murano Street” and knows that a few flats received warnings but have not heard of anyone getting evicted or into trouble. She clarified: “The uni sent emails towards the end of the week when cases started to rise warning us about parties and social gatherings and reminding us how off-limits they were, but during the actual week, they seemed pretty laid back about it all. There were police and security going round the party flats at night and talking to people but nothing was ever fully shut down.”
Students were given emails providing links and access to mental health services, where Lucia felt they were given “sufficient support” in this field.
Lucia argued Covid-19 spikes were “pretty much inevitable. You can’t stop people from coming into contact with others especially during a social period like Freshers Week', unless you don’t allow people to move into accommodation in the first place.”
A living support assistant (LSA) from one of the affected residences spoke to The Glasgow Guardian about her experience with the outbreak. She is now required to isolate for 14 days with all of her flatmates testing positive for coronavirus. Between Cairncross and Kelvinhaugh Gate, there are 15-18 LSAs to support approximately 370 students. In Murano, there are 21 LSAs to support 1,100 students.
The LSA believes the blame lies upon both the students and the University: "Freshers' Week was just a disaster." Students hosted parties every night of Freshers' week, and when told to disband the party, they would "kitchen-hop" to another flat to host there instead. They detail one night in particular where one group of students kitchen-hopped four times. She added: "I feel like [the University] could have seen this coming because there was a block party at Murano that had like 100 people at it. … They're just not doing anything." She felt that the University isn't doing anything to support the students following the rules, or those that may be high-risk.
The weekly cleaning services for the bathrooms and kitchens have been suspended and now students must self-manage: "They've literally just left a bundle of bleach in the kitchen and told us to do it ourselves." She added: "I was taking a shower yesterday and I was so anxious about it because I obviously have to share a bathroom with people who have corona who are also using it."
Whilst she's been on duty, students have come to her with their concerns: "I was on duty the other night and I had a girl phone me saying she hadn't eaten anything for 24 hours because she's high risk and can't leave her room, and no one's left her a food bag or anything." This is the contents of a food parcel supplied by the University:
She says: "There's really nothing you can make a meal with in there, it might do you for an hour or two, but you certainly wouldn't be able to survive off that." Students can order food as takeaways, but cannot collect it until late evening as security need to deliver it to their room.
International student Maria moved to Glasgow from Spain and was self-isolating at the start of the month. She was placed in a flat solely consisting of international students, and is aware of these choices, noting: “They have divided people based on whether they are international or UK based students, which makes it difficult to socialise.”
Matt Hancock stated today that he refuses to rule out a student lockdown at Christmas, which could mean students would have to remain in their university towns over the festive period. Maria acknowledged that staying in accommodation over Christmas might be wise, as she fears not being allowed access back to the UK if the situation escalates.
MSP for the local area, Sandra White, and John Swinney, Scottish secretary for education, and the principals of Scottish universities met last night to discuss plans going forward. Sandra White has encouraged students to get in touch with any concerns or complains they have, and ensures that this can be done anonymously.
You can contact Sandra White via her email: [email protected]
No related posts found!