Goldsmiths is rolling out free Covid-19 testing

Goldsmiths will provide NHS Covid-19 tests to students starting next week in preparation for their return home for the holidays.

The testing for asymptomatic students, who are not self-isolating, will take place Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 11 in the university’s Great Hall. Goldsmiths has adapted the space for safe and effective testing. 

Both students and staff will have access to the tests, however, students will have priority access. 

Registrar and Secretary Helen Watson said in an email distributed last Friday that the free testing is “part of local and national efforts to break the chain of infection and prevent the spread of the virus.” 

Goldsmiths is also developing support for students who choose to leave the country. Students have not received these guidelines yet, but the university states it will release them as soon as possible. 

The university suggested that international students visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website and check in with the embassy of their destination prior to booking their travel. 

CREDIT: Elchinator/Pixabay 

The Goldsmiths website said: “Countries are taking different approaches to admitting travellers during the pandemic.”

However, the university stated that students travelling outside of the UK on December 12 should not rely on the rapid test because the results tell you if you have contracted Covid-19 on the day of the test. It is still possible to catch it afterward. 

Despite this warning, the rapid test can come in handy for those travelling via plane or train and require proof of a negative result within a few hours before departure for permission to board.

Goldsmiths also urged students to follow national lockdown policies and restrictions by staying in their accommodation for the remainder of the term. The university will allow students to travel home from their residence halls on scattered dates between December 3 and 9. 

More information concerning these arrangements will be available next Wednesday with details on where students can find the date they are assigned to leave campus.

For further information on booking tests, Goldsmiths is directing students to its official Covid-19 testing webpage

Student concerns in lockdown No. 2 

The end of the academic term will be a much-needed break for several students who, during the latest Goldsmiths Student Union open meeting, expressed feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation and loneliness. 

SU President Lauren Corelli, Welfare and Liberational Officer Sara Bafo, Campaigns and Activities Officer Niquella Simpson-West and Education Officer Fowsia Kadiye fielded questions from students during the SU Open Meeting: Lockdown 2.0 on November 5.

Many students addressed a flurry of issues ranging from money worries to academic and mental health concerns.

The attendees discussed their concerns with paying tuition and accommodation fees during a school term mostly online, wondering whether they were receiving value for their money. Students questioned if tuition fees will be decreased, why they were paying for Zoom classes and if a rent strike was an option. 

Credit: Oa.coello/Wikimedia Commons

“Before I flew over, they made it sound like it was some exciting hybrid experience. It’s not like they made it out to be. Had to get a visa so fast, flights were so expensive … I’m not happy. We pay double the amount. What would be the best way to get a refund?” one international student said. 

Several students were concerned with the health risks of attending modules on campus while others feared that limited access to the library would be a detriment to their coursework. 

Others claimed that lecturers were not flexible or accommodating to self-isolating students or those studying abroad for the term. 

“Some departments are recording [lectures] on Zoom. However, from abroad, students can’t log in. The department has said they can’t change this: ‘If you can’t come, you can’t come.’ That’s your problem,” one student said. 

In this conversation of online learning, students have also been feeling stressed, anxious, lonely and isolated because they have not yet met their classmates. 

Many students cited “bad communication from the university” as an additional source of their anxiety. 

One said: “I live in Surrey House; it’s really bad. There are lots of issues although I know they’re doing their best. We don’t really know the rules. At reception they said we can’t mix. Then, someone else said they could. I’m really anxious.”

In response to students’ complaints and concerns, Goldsmiths states that it has support for students for these issues. 

Goldsmiths normally send information about social distancing and additional COVID-19 pandemic policy updates via email, the college website and the app. 

In regard to online learning, a spokesperson from Goldsmiths, University of London explained that the college has had to move some courses online or in a different way due to the impact of the pandemic. It understands that these changes could be difficult for students, but maintains “an emphasis on delivering the same high quality educational experience.”

“At every stage we have done everything we can to provide the best possible learning experience for everyone,” the spokesperson said. 

The Goldsmiths spokesperson said that the college recommends Microsoft Teams for online teaching rather than Zoom for “maximum accessibility”. 

“Our advice is Zoom should only be used for public-facing events where Microsoft Teams does not meet the requirements.” 

Finally, students in need of mental health support can turn to several resources. These include student support teams available seven days per week via email, phone, Skype or instant messenger where students can book wellbeing and counselling appointments. 

Students can speak with specialist counsellors and 40 trained Mental Health First Aiders. 

The college teamed up with mental fitness app Fika to provide programmes discussing students’ challenges with COVID-19.

Accommodation Services has also been checking in on students in resident halls during the second lockdown via virtual flat meetings. The team aims to “encourage peer support as well as highlighting the individualised support we offer students through Wellbeing, Campus Support and senior and personal tutors.” 

“Over the course of one week as part of this scheme the Campus Support Team spoke to over 200 students across 47 flats,” the spokesperson said. 

With only one more week left in the UK’s second national lockdown, students now have the holiday season and reunions with immediate family members to look forward to.