Student accommodation and Covid-19: CUBO issues advice to providers

CUBO releases guidelines for student accommodation providers on minimising the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks when term begins

The College and University Business Officers (CUBO) has published its latest guidance for student accommodation providers ahead of the new academic term.

The guidelines address several student accommodation considerations including the safety of households, social interaction, shared spaces, cleaning, maintenance, signage, online induction, student responsibilities, arrivals, wellbeing, vulnerable students, visitors, international students and staff safety, as well as handling NHS Test and Trace, isolation and local lockdowns.

“The advice is based on current published government information. It is not a replacement for government guidance, but is a best interpretation by sector practitioners of how the official guidance available at this point could apply to student accommodation,” said Jo Hardman, chair of CUBO’s board.

“It is intended to provide a checklist for accommodation providers to help them consider all aspects of their operations to maintain an environment that minimises the risk of the transmission of Covid-19.

“All accommodation providers will focus on providing a good student experience, meeting student needs, and keeping students and staff safe. In doing so, consideration is needed between restrictions on activities and behaviours, and the overall well-being and mental health of all involved.

Consideration is needed between restrictions on activities and behaviours, and the overall well-being and mental health of all involved – Jo Hardman, CUBO

“At this time, it is important that students arriving in accommodation are not only safe from contracting Covid-19, but that they feel safe and are confident that their institution has taken all necessary precautions to manage their safety. Where an institution has nominations, agreements or other direct relationships with private providers, equal efforts should be considered.

“Where no contractual relationship exists, institutions should share advice and guidance and consider direct support to landlords and students to ensure student safety and wellbeing.

“The full range of students need to be considered, but in particular institutions should ensure that practical steps are taken to enable equality for those particularly at risk.”

Among CUBO’s suggestions for safety in student accommodation are face coverings for “common rooms, community facilities, and social hubs”, outside covered spaces and marquees for socialising, one-way systems and sanitising stations in shared spaces, and updated flat share agreements and community responsibility pledges. It also says universities receiving international students should “consider collection and drop off from airports”.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, CUBO has been involved in several working groups advising on Covid-19 government policy and created a Covid-19 resource library including sector reports and updates, government guidance links, round table summaries and best practice documents.

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