Thursday, 8 October 2020

Dog's Dinner and Covid-19

For weeks now Nicola Sturgeon has been telling us that the spread of Covid-19 is largely down to the irresponsible behaviour of a minority of people in their own homes.

But yesterday the Scottish Government suddenly decided that restaurants and bars in central Scotland should all be closed even though cafes and other shops can still remain open.

Sounds like a real dog's dinner to me coming on top of the shambles of students returning to Scottish universities and halls of residence - see posts below on 'Covid-19, Rules and Double Standards'.

I've been in lots of restaurants and bars in Glasgow recently, all of which have been managed very responsibly, and it’s heartbreaking to witness all these hardworking staff and businesses being treated so badly.


Covid-19, Rules and Double Standards (28/09/20)

So having made a complete shambles of the arrangements for students resuming their studies Scotland's politicians and university bigwigs stand previous health advice on its head - by agreeing that everyone can now return home. 

A mass exodus of students has already taken place according to news reports, in defiance of orders to quarantine for 14 days, but now the powers that be intend to make things even worse by exempting lots of young people from the rules which would otherwise require them to stay in one place until the quarantine period is over.

Now you can hardly blame the students for this fiasco, other than those organising and attending irresponsible social events and house parties, but the politicians are the ones drawing up the rules - only to enforce them on a selective basis when it suits their purpose.

No wonder others who have followed the rules up till now are getting fed up at the double standards.

Covid in Scotland: 'Struggling' students told they can return home

Related Topics
Student in Glasgow hallsImage copyrightPA MEDIA

Students who are struggling at university accommodation following a spate of Covid outbreaks have been told they can return home.

But Education Minister Richard Lochhead said he does not expect a "mass exodus" after updated guidance was published by the Scottish government.

The guidance also says students can visit parents if there is a "reasonable excuse" such as a family emergency.

But short stays without one are still deemed an "offence".

The guidelines were issued after a flood of complaints from students who felt they were trapped in university or college accommodation.

Speaking on BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Lochhead said: "I know many students are struggling at the moment but I also know many students accept that they want to be at university.

"It is challenging at the moment, especially if they are self-isolating, but they are enjoying the opportunity of making new connections, of at least meeting their tutors, albeit a lot of their learning is online.

"So I don't expect a mass exodus from Scotland's campuses but the opportunity is there for those that are struggling."

Media captionMinister Richard Lochhead said if you have a "reasonable excuse" you can leave your student accommodation

The guidelines say that students can move to another home permanently which means they would have to change household.

Students who decide to do this have been asked to follow self-isolating rules and not use public transport - as well as to "consider how you may benefit from in person learning".

Notice periods have also been introduced for those permanently leaving student halls - either seven days' notice or 28 days if the tenancy began after 28 September

The new guidelines have been welcomed by the students' union NUS Scotland.

Its president Matt Crilly said: "Today's guidance provides welcome clarity to the students in halls, who will be considering their next steps.

"We welcome that students will be able to return home on a permanent basis. However, we are disappointed that the government continues to talk up in-person teaching, which may keep students on campus and increase risks unnecessarily. 

"We continue to call on the Scottish government to strengthen teaching guidance so remote learning is the default, and a reality for as many students as possible."

'Halls of horror'

But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the picture was still one of "confusion" and criticised the fact the guidance was published so late on Sunday.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland: "On one hand students are being told they can go home, then they are being told they can go home if there are certain circumstances and I think there are still questions over what those circumstances are."

Mr Ross also said ministers should have anticipated the problems given the spike in cases witnessed in the US when colleges and universities returned for the new academic year.

He added: "This guidance should have been absolutely crystal clear before these young people left home and certainly before they got to university and were, in many cases, locked up in halls of horror."

Students in GlasgowImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the guidance had provided some clarity for students but called on ministers to go further.

Speaking on the programme, he said: "We do need to have that asymptomatic routine testing to make sure that people know if they are negative so they can home and continue their studies."

Mr Rennie also called for rent rebates and mental health support for students after a spate of outbreaks across the country, which he claimed were predictable

He added: "This was the biggest movement of people since the start of the lockdown so it was inevitable that we would have this."

Student health

The body representing Scottish universities said student welfare must be a priority.

Prof Gerry McCormac, Convener of Universities Scotland, said: "With the support of their universities, students need to choose what is right for their own physical and mental health. 

"Unfortunately the current situation with this pandemic means these choices do need to be balanced within the wider public health context. 

"There is a real benefit, we believe, in staying at university this semester and benefiting from the blend of both digital and in-person learning and the wider range of services and support that is available."

Prof McCormac added: "It has been a very difficult start to the new academic year for the entire student community, both those returning to university and in particular, those attending for the first time."


How To Spread Covid-19 (27/09/20) 

The Herald reports that there has been a mass exodus of students from Glasgow despite being ordered to quarantine after an outbreak of Covid-19 cases.

I'll be interested to hear how the Scottish Government responds because while it is clear that arrangements for students resuming their studies have been a complete shambles, hundreds of people returning home without bothering to quarantine can only help the virus spread even further.

Read the full story via the link below to the Sunday Herald.

Coronavirus Scotland: 'Mass exodus' of students from locked down university accommodation

By Ema Sabljak - The Herald 

'Mass exodus' of students from locked down university accommodation

Students across Glasgow have fled from university accommodation to return home, despite coronavirus guidelines. 

Halls of residences have seen a mass exodus in recent days after strict restrictions were announced, the Daily Record reports. 

National clinical director Jason Leitch previously announced students should not return home as they now belonged to new households. 

On Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would support universities expelling students “as a last resort” if they “flagrantly” breach rules.

But students told the Daily Record students residencies felt like prison prompting a 'mass exodus'. 

Second-year MA History student James Yucel, 19, returned home to England on Friday. 

He said: “On Thursday night there was just widespread panic as students learned of the new restrictions.

“It was utter chaos with students booking flights, trains and getting packed up. It’s been so poorly handled.