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Lecturers condemn ‘unworkable and chaotic’ plans to put students in 2-week lockdown before Christmas

LECTURERS have condemned “unworkable and chaotic” plans to force students into self-isolation for two weeks before Christmas.

The government wants more than a million students to go into lockdown from December 8 to 22 before they go home to their families for Christmas.

But University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady said today: “This is an unworkable and chaotic set of measures that will be impossible to deliver or oversee.

“Instead of this perverse obsession with Christmas, ministers and universities must focus on the here and now.

“We should be talking about getting people home now, not in two months’ time. 

“The mass relocation of over a million students is going to take time and serious resources, as is looking after them while they are forced into quarantine or lockdown.

“We are currently moving into stricter UK-wide measures, yet in-person activities are continuing on campus causing infections to rise. 

“Students are yo-yoing in and out of self-isolation and universities are seeking to profiteer on basic care packages.

“This is a terrible plan that has been drawn up without the input of the people it affects the most, staff and students. 

“This is a government completely out of touch with the public and seemingly unaware of what happens at universities.”

She called on the government to come off its “path of negligence” and move all possible activities online.

A scientist who advises the government has also said that imposing a two-week lockdown on universities before Christmas may come too late.

Dr Ellen Brooks-Pollock, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, said:  “Two weeks might be enough for students living in smaller households with two or three other people, but in these halls of residence where there’s really a lot of people living together it could just lead to an outbreak in those halls of residence.

“And if there’s already disseminated infections, many of which are unobserved, two weeks wouldn’t be long enough at the end of term – it’s too late essentially.”

The Department for Education said details on the return home would be set out “shortly.”

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