Mass coronavirus testing of students before they go home for Christmas starts at universities across Wales.
Swansea University warned again that it won’t be able to test all students in time, but Bangor University said it had enough of the rapid lateral flow tests to offer all its students the two they may need.
The programme, which involves two tests done three days apart, is starting from Monday, November 30, to give any that test positive time to self isolate for 14 days before going home. Aberystwyth University said testing may also take place when its students return in January.
The Welsh Government has asked universities to put all learning online from December 8 and students to leave campus by December 9 to lower the risk of them taking Covid home with them at Christmas.
But universities have already said some courses will have to continue face to face until December 18 as planned, including those that include placements and those for international students who only arrived a few weeks ago.
Some students, including those who are care leavers and international students will spend the holiday in university halls or private accommodation anyway.
Cases have been falling in universities.
Swansea University said its supports mass testing but it created “logistical obstacles and it would not be possible to test every student ».
How mass student testing will run
Student testing will start on Wednesday, December 2.
A University spokeswoman aid: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s initiative to offer rapid Covid tests to our students prior to them returning home. There have been considerable logistical obstacles to overcome, but following a major effort we are able to take part in this programme.
“As we have indicated previously, we will not be able to test all of our students, given the tight timescale and the fact that students will need two tests, three days apart.
“In practice, we know that many of our students have already travelled home or will be staying in Swansea and will not need a test, and we are aiming to test as many students as possible.”
Student testing will run from Monday, November 30 to December 8.
Bangor will stop in-person teaching on campus on Friday December 4, except for courses such as nursing where there are placements which extend beyond that date).
From Monday, December 7 until the end of the semester on December 18 all other teaching will be online.
A spokeswoman said: “The university is working with transport providers to share relevant journey planning information tools with students in order that they can make informed choices about dates and times to travel if they are planning to use public transport.
“The University has procured enough tests to be able to offer every student two tests.
Student testing will run from Monday, November 30 to Monday, December 7.
Between the start of term and November 26 the Aberystwyth University said it has recorded 43 cases of Covid-19 amongst its 6,000 students and two among its 2,000 staff. No new case has been recorded since 14th November.
The university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure said: “We have put practical plans in place to offer Covid-19 testing to our students prior to the Christmas break.
“While only a relatively small number of our students have tested positive for Covid-19, these tests are designed to detect whether an individual is asymptomatic. This could add significantly to efforts to reduce Covid-19 transmission in future.
“The testing we are making available at Aberystwyth University is part of a wider pilot scheme for mass testing.
“It will offer participants the opportunity to know whether they are infectious on the day they take their test. On the basis of the results received, we want to enable individuals to make the best choices they can in order to keep themselves, their friends and families safe.”
Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council urged students to get the test and said repeat tests may also be run in January to minimise risk of the virus being brought back with them.
“If this is a success, it is hoped that similar testing could be undertaken on students’ return to Aberystwyth in January, which will safeguard both the student population and the wider population of Ceredigion,” he said.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
Student testing will start on Tuesday December 1.
A spokesperson said infection rates at Cardiff Met has “remained low” after campus-wide testing in October.
“We have a critical role in helping our students and staff act responsibly, which is why we’ve adopted a targeted approach to testing to ensure those who will come into contact with the most vulnerable in our communities, or who are worried about their own health and wellbeing can access testing in time for the end of term.”
University of South Wales
Student testing will run from Monday, November 30 to December 11 at USW’s sites in Cardiff, Newport and Pontypridd.
The booking system went live on Wednesday last week and appointments are still available should any USW students like to book one, the university said.
In the week to November 25 USW said 38 students and two members of staff had reported testing positive for Covid-19. Most were not on campus in the days before developing symptoms or testing positive, the university said.
University of Wales Trinity St David
Student testing will start on Monday, November 30.
As of November 27 the university had 16 cases of coronavirus – 15 among students and one in a member of staff. At that date 48 students and 13 members of staff were self isolating.
A spokeswoman said:“In line with the announcement from Welsh Government, UWTSD is working with Welsh and UK Governments to offer our students asymptomatic testing from November 30 to December 11. This will enable them to make an informed decision about their travel at the end of term and minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
“Although many of our students are local and live with their families, we are prioritising tests for residential students, those who undertake placements and those who have received on-campus teaching within the past month.
“A comprehensive support package is available for the small number of students who will be remaining within our residences over the Christmas period.
“We are reviewing all teaching requirements across the University; it is expected that the majority of teaching will have been moved online by December 8. However, there are some programmes where essential in person teaching or placements may need to continue.”
Testing will also take place at Cardiff University alongside its own in-house rapid spit test which has been offered to anyone coming on to campus since the start of term.
In the seven days to November 26 Cardiff University recorded 36 cases among its 30,000 students and 35 among its 7,000 staff, data published on its website shows. As of November 26 a total 184 students and staff were self isolating.
Wrexham Glyndwr University
The university did not respond to a request from WalesOnline for information about its student testing plan.