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COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called Coronavirus and most commonly causes symptoms of a dry cough, tiredness and fever.

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has left us all in a state of uncertainty; uncertainty for our health, our future, and the safety of those around us. In this period of uncertainty we've been told that home is the safest place for us all, and that's why Abodus remains steadfast in its belief that continuing to provide a home for our thousands of residents from around the world, is the best way for us to support our students through such an anxious and challenging period in their lives. 

Abodus operates on the philosophy that living with us is about 'more than just a room', it's about a community and being part of a wider student experience. Abodus's doors remain open, and we're here to support our residents, both current and future, in any way we can. 

The UK Government has updated its guidance for students that may need to return to their accommodation to collect their personal belongings. Abodus are ensuring the additional safety measures are in place, we will be issuing guidelines on Tuesday 26th May 2020, our intention is to have everything in place to allow student to return from Wednesday 27th May.  Students that were approved for tenancy release should refer to the tenancy release terms and conditions.

If your return requires travel from outside of England and are unable to return to collect your items before, please contact your site team.

 

The Abodus response

Our main priority, as always, is the health and wellbeing of all our staff and residents. We are busy arming our site teams and central support team with the knowledge of how to manage the Coronavirus pandemic within a student accommodation environment.

Abodus is carefully monitoring the developing situation and is responding to this complex and unprecedented event through guidance from the UK Government, NHS, Public Health England and our affiliated universities.

To ensure the continued safety of our staff and residents we have:

  • Installed hand sanitiser gel in all receptions and common areas in line with Government advice for practising good hygiene
  • Reinforced our well-established operational protocols for our staff, should a student become unwell and medical support be required
  • Asked our site teams to practice social distancing measures with each other and residents, and perform only essential activities that allow us to safely operate our buildings
  • Temporarily closed all gyms, gaming rooms and cinemas in line with Government guidance, and asked students not to use any of the common areas. We have closed all communal social and study spaces, where possible, to support social distancing measures

Latest Government Advice

Students should remain in their university accommodation

In a letter published on 26th March from Michelle Donelan MP, the Minister of State for Universities, the Government are now advising students to remain in their accommodation:

The Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If they are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, they should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force.”

'Stay at Home' regulations

Over the past week you would’ve seen a cascade of ‘Stay at Home’ messaging across your socials and on every content platform. As of 23rd March, the Government introduced tighter measures to slow the spread of COVID-19; keep up to date with the latest advice here. Until the situation improves, you are now only permitted to leave your accommodation for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for essentials, ie. food and medicine, and only when absolutely required
  • One type of exercise a day, ie. a run, walk, or cycle, either alone or with members of your household
  • For any medical emergency or assistance, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm and to provide care or help to a vulnerable person
  • Essential travel for work purposes, but only if your work cannot be done from home

These measures will be reviewed in mid-April; we’ll keep you up to date with the latest guidance as it is announced.


How do I reduce the risk?

  • Wash hands often with soap and water; or use alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR). Hand washing is preferable when possible as resources of ABHR may deplete in the coming weeks
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Wherever possible, avoid direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoid using their personal items
  • Cover coughs and sneezes (nose and mouth) with disposable tissues, then dispose of these in the nearest waste bin after use. And then wash your hands with soap/use alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR)
  • Follow the UK Government's guidance on social distancing; limit your social interaction with others to help reduce the transmission of the virus

I’m worried I have coronavirus, what do I do?

If your symptoms mild/minor Public Health England recommend that you do not contact NHS 111 as this will prevent more serious cases being able to get assistance. If you have a new persistent cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours), a temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back), loss of taste or sense of smell, Public Health England advise you should remain in your room for 7 days and follow the advice on self-isolation.

If your symptoms worsen you are advised to visit the NHS 111 website or call NHS 111. For emergencies always call 999.

Do I need to be tested for COVID-19?

Public Health England will not be testing routinely, NHS will prioritise testing for those in hospital and have health conditions.

I’m self-isolating in my accommodation, what do I need to know?

Please follow the below advice, in line with the UK Government and Public Health England’s recommendations:

  • Stay in your room, in your flat. Do not invite visitors into the flat and avoid physical contact with your flatmates. You may need to discuss a rota system so you can all schedule in time in the shared facilities i.e. kitchen
  • Inform the site team that you are self-isolating by phone or emailing the main site – this contact info can be found via the Locations page of the Abodus website. You must navigate to the correct property page to find the contact information relevant to you
  • If you have arranged supplies to be brought to your flat, or have ordered shopping online, we will help facilitate getting the supplies to the entrance of your flat, subject to site opening hours and staff availability
  • Do not share cooking equipment, utensils, dishes or tea towels with your flatmates. Eat all food in your room

Remember to contact the reception by phone/email to notify them that you’re self-isolating.

The following is also advised:

  • Stay in touch with your family and friends; self-isolation is a difficult time and you need support from your loved ones
  • In the event of a fire alarm, all students and staff should follow standard evacuation procedure. If possible, try to keep a distance between you and other people
  • Please be aware that only essential maintenance may be carried out in your room during the period of self-isolation

What if I'm in a high risk category?

Abodus Student Living your health, safety and wellbeing are of the utmost importance to us. In recent weeks we have seen many updates from the UK Government on the COVID-19 virus, this week they highlighted some clinical conditions put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice on the more stringent measures you should take to keep yourself and others safe. Please do not be alarmed if you have any concerns or questions, contact the onsite team who can assist you in finding the right guidance where required.


Can I stay in my accommodation? 

Yes, you can. As you have a tenancy contract, you are legally entitled to remain until the end of your tenancy, however we understand that many students may wish to return home for this period.

You are welcome to leave your belongings in your room until the end of your tenancy.

In light of temporary closures to social spaces, put in place for protection, we will be migrating our student engagement opportunities to online platforms. We will be busy encouraging you all to engage and relax via our virtual event program. Whilst your safety and wellbeing is paramount, we endeavour to make this experience as fun and rewarding to every resident as possible and our goal is to keep us all connected.


If I leave my accommodation early, will I get a refund? 

The COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented and evolving situation and as such it's so important, now more than ever, that Abodus keeps its doors open to the community of students that live with us.

Our properties are home to students from all over the globe, and in the face of ongoing uncertainty worldwide, we will continue to provide a safe and secure home in which our residents can live and study.

It is our upmost priority to protect the safety and wellbeing of our residents and operate with a duty of care at all times, in order to do so effectively it is important that we uphold these standards by complying with the advice of the UK Government.

Whilst complying with the advice of Minister of State for Universities, we are now enabling students with valid reasons to leave, and be released from next semester fees, the opportunity to do so by complying with our Tenancy Early Release Request process by the 14th April and our Early Check Out Guidelines before 23rd April.

We kindly ask that you log onto the ‘My Account’ page of your Resident Portal online as complete your ‘Early Tenancy Release’ form by no later than midnight on 14th April in order for us to support your request.

 

I'm worried this is affecting my mental health 

You're not alone. Life has changed very rapidly over the past few weeks and many of us are struggling with the uncertainty that the coming few months hold. More guidance about how to manage your mental health around this time can be found via:

How can I make a complaint?

If you wish to make a complaint, please contact the Abodus team on complaints@abodusstudents.com

Where can I find more information?

For more information about coronavirus, its symptoms, how to avoid catching it and what to do if you do have it, please visit the NHS website.

Abodus is here to support of all our residents. Please call/email our front of house teams if you have concerns for yourself or a friend/flatmate.

Last updated 22nd May 2020

About the author

Abodus Student Living

The Abodus Student Living Team