Calls for consideration for student health and wellbeing have been made following the rise in numbers of students self-isolating.
The National Union of Students Scotland (NUS Scotland) has made a call for additional support to be in place for students self-isolating. Matt Crilly, the NUS Scotland president, made a statement on the matter: “It is essential that institutions are supporting students, not only with basic necessities like food and drink but also making sure health and well-being services are being offered.”
The statement was following University College and Union Scotland’s address to students on guidance over learning and isolating. NUS Scotland has urged the Scottish government to issue stronger guidance on remote learning. Crilly added: “The Scottish government and our institutions must do all they can to ensure students are able to learn safely.
“We want to see online learning being recommended as the default position, except lab-based and practical courses which must take place in person. Health and safety of students is too important to gamble with, and we need the Scottish government to offer clarity and take action.”
This was later followed by the Scottish government’s announcement that students should not attend bars, restaurants, or pubs on the weekend of the 25 September, to which Crilly responded as being “a complete disregard for students’ mental health and well-being.
“Tonight’s announcement by Universities Scotland and endorsed by the Scottish government unfairly blames students for the spread of Covid and takes unjustified steps of applying different rules to students over and above the rest of the population.”
In addition, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross condemned the decisions of the Scottish government, stating that in their first week, students have been threatened with expulsion and handed last-minute messages creating uncertainty about if they can go home or if they’ll miss the winter break with their families.
Higher Education minister, Richard Lochhead, defended the government’s actions, telling the BBC: “The curbs on going to hospitality this weekend was about trying to stop the virus spreading. It’s not stigmatising students, it’s not about saying they’re particularly to blame for what’s happening.”
The University of Glasgow released information on Saturday 26 September stating that students in university residences will be offered a four-week rent rebate, will have access to local mobile food outlets, and will be delivered food parcels and fresh bedding. Representatives from the University will also visit every student household isolating over the weekend for a welfare check. This check will involve seeing if any students need more food or medical supplies, as well as providing advice on medical and well-being issues.
The Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council (GUSRC) have also put together an Isolation Toolkit for anyone struggling with mental health during the current situation, which can be found online here.