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Code of conduct for Junior Members of Magdalene College during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 College Code of Conduct

Code of conduct for Junior Members of Magdalene College during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last revised: 24/02/2022

Introduction

COVID-19 (the disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) is a highly contagious disease spread by aerosol/droplet contact. The Magdalene community as a whole has a social responsibility for the health and wellbeing of everyone within the College as well as others and the functioning of the College as a whole. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to provide guidance to members of the College in respect of what is expected of them to minimise the risk of COVID-19.

In the United Kingdom case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths are falling and it is now clear that the risk of life-threatening serious illness from the current variant in vaccinated individuals is greatly reduced. Whilst we need to be mindful that there remain individuals who are clinically vulnerable, for the most part the risk of serious illness or numbers that will again overwhelm healthcare services is now far lower for the vast majority of the population than it was at the start of the pandemic.

Against this background, the Government has continued to ease restrictions and the College is following suit so that we may move back towards pre-pandemic normality. Whilst the DfE makes it clear that the College still has a duty to risk-assess and mitigate risk, the vast majority of the restrictions are consequently lifted in line with national guidance. However, members of the College are urged to continue to be considerate of others.

It is clear that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time to come and, if the severity of the disease remains low, this is manageable much like other viral respiratory diseases are. It is important to note, however, that it is possible that a future variant of the virus could again lead to a clinically more severe disease (as is the case, for example, with influenza) or circumstances may lead to another escalation in public health threat in the future necessitating restrictions again. However, for the time being it the situation (in the United Kingdom at least) appears to be stabilising.

The pandemic has disrupted almost all aspects of life globally. In the face of this unprecedented situation, the College aims to try to minimise disruption and facilitate activities as far as possible subject to the following overarching principles:

  • Protecting individual health and wellbeing
  • Protecting the health and wellbeing of others
  • Protecting the Cambridge University community / protecting Cambridge as a city
  • Providing a safe environment for work and for study

The College has set up a COVID-19 Committee to oversee all aspects of health and wellbeing policy related to the pandemic. The College COVID-19 Officer, a member of the COVID-19 Committee, will provide a point of contact for advice and guidance in relation to College policy and individual behaviour as well as ensuring that all College members behave in a way that promotes safety. The COVID-19 Officer may be contacted at this email address: covid-19@magd.cam.ac.uk

The COVID-19 situation is likely to be dynamic and unpredictable with many factors potentially changing over time (including the occurrence of further outbreaks or waves, and changes in University or local/national government public health policy). For this reason, the College COVID-19 Code of Conduct which follows will be a ‘living document’ under continuous review by the College COVID-19 Committee. All College members must keep themselves up-to-date with changes as they occur.

Information from the University on staying safe during the pandemic is available at www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/stay-safe-cambridge-uni. An overarching principle is that students must comply with government recommendations. This document provides additional information as well as College-specific guidance, clarification and instructions as to what is additionally expected by the College.

Background

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was declared the cause of a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020. Since this date, the virus has spread to almost every country worldwide, and infected millions of people. Information about the number of coronavirus tests, cases and deaths in the UK is updated daily by the government (www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public).

The main symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection include:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss or change in the sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

However, a range of non-specific symptoms can also occur such as fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain) and diarrhoea. Severity of disease varies widely between individuals, with reports of life-threatening disease occurring in all age groups and the long term effects of virus infection not yet fully known. It is also important to be aware that asymptomatic infections are relatively frequent. Therefore, individuals may be unaware that they are infectious.

In common with other serious respiratory viruses (e.g. influenza), SARS-CoV-2 is predominantly transmitted by contact with respiratory secretions from infected individuals. Respiratory secretions are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These infectious droplets can then cause infection if they reach the mouth, nose or eyes of a susceptible person. Infection may occur through:

  • Aerosol transmission - i.e. by breathing in fine droplets of liquid containing virus that have been breathed out by an infectious individual (these may remain in the air for a substantial period of time especially in poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces).

and, to a lesser extent:

  • Contact with contaminated surfaces - i.e by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth.

It is currently unknown to what extent people who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune or how long such immunity lasts- in other words we do not know to what extent it is possible to get COVID-19 more than once.

Handwashing and hygiene

As with all infectious diseases through history (not just COVID-19), handwashing and hygiene are the mainstay of limiting future outbreaks.

Since the virus may survive on hard surfaces for some time, you should clean surfaces regularly, particularly if they have been used by others.

Face coverings and moving around in College / University buildings

Like other viral respiratory illnesses, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread by contact with droplets or aerosol (see ‘Background’ section) and transmission is more likely when you are in close contact with others. The wearing of face-coverings is no longer nationally mandated.

  • You are encouraged to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and the Ramsay servery and Porters’ Lodge in particular because these are confined areas with high footfall.

You must observe all relevant signs around College in relation to COVID.

Social gatherings

Planned events including College dinners must be carefully risk assessed by the College before being permitted. Members of the College should make sure they have access to lateral flow tests (these may be obtained by mail-order through the NHS) whilst these remain free of charge and are asked to test before attending high risk gatherings.

Visitors

The College remains closed to tourists for now and into the exam period.

Self-isolation and testing

Information on what to do if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e. a new or continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss / change in your sense of taste or smell) is available here, COVID-19: people with COVID-19 and their contacts. Whilst the legal requirement to self-isolate has been removed, you should consider others: if you have (or suspect you might have) COVID-19 then you should avoid contact with others.

The legal duty to self-isolate has ended. However the public health guidance remains that you should stay at home (i.e. in your room) and avoid contact with others for at least five days. Isolation may end after negative tests on two consecutive days, but if the tests continue to be positive, isolation should continue for up to 10 days.

Please continue to inform the College (via the Porters’ lodge) if you test positive for COVID-19. This will allow the College to help you if you need anything (e.g. meals etc).

Asymptomatic testing has now ceased, the government scheme providing free LFTs for Higher Education Institutions has also ceased. Until the 1st April lateral flow tests are freely available to the public, these can be ordered online or from a pharmacy. The University testing pod remains open until the end of March, providing PCR tests for students who experience symptoms.

Vaccination

It is now clear that vaccination is safe and provides a high level of protection against COVID-19. Whilst infection is still possible after vaccination, and it is possible to be infectious, this has usually been a milder illness than in unvaccinated patients. All eligible students who have not already done so are strongly advised to get themselves vaccinated / obtain booster doses to help keep themselves and those around them safe.

Students with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases

Pre-existing medical conditions may mean that you fall into a group who are at increased susceptibility to COVID-19 or severely increased susceptibility.

Even though the risk of COVID-19 may be receding nationally, you should be mindful and sensitive that some people in our College community may still remain vulnerable. Please continue to take sensible steps to keep other members of the College safe.

Face-to-face supervisions (or small group teaching)

Face-to-face teaching should now be the norm although it is accepted that there may be circumstances where this is impossible. However the following principles remain good practice:

  • Face-to-face supervisions should take place in as small group sizes as possible.
  • Face-to-face supervisions should take place in well-ventilated rooms.

Pastoral and wellbeing matters

Support is available from:

  • Your Tutor - your tutor remains available for help, advice, and pastoral support. Please contact them by email.
  • College Nurse – Taryn Rothwell is available on email tr409@cam.ac.uk during Term Time. She can arrange to have online or phone consultations.
  • College Counselling – Fliss Cadbury, a senior University Counselling Service counsellor, is our College counsellor who offers UCS counselling for Magdalene students during Term Time.
  • Chaplain – Sarah is happy for all students to get in touch to chat about anything on your mind. You can contact Sarah at sct39@cam.ac.uk. She is mostly available at all times. 
  • Harassment Officers – Hugo and Pippa are confidential points of contact should you ever feel that you have been harassed or bullied in any sense. They can be contacted at ha205@cam.ac.uk or pms45@cam.ac.uk.
  • The College Welfare Hub – has information about many more sources of support available to all students.

Other links for advice

General advice and guidance from the University is available at Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance for all students.

Health and wellbeing advice from the University is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Help and support.

Guidance for resident students is available at Stay Safe Cambridge Uni - Living in Cambridge.

Expectations

Our welfare and the welfare of all around us is everyone’s business when it comes to COVID-19. We hope that members of the College will take their role in protecting each other and the wider University and Cambridge community seriously. If you fail to comply with this Code of Conduct, or with instructions issued in accordance with it by the COVID-19 Officer or Committee, the Officer or Committee may take action under the College COVID-19 Procedure (which might, if thought necessary in the circumstances of the case, include reference of the matter to the Dean for consideration under the College Student Disciplinary Procedure).

If you encounter someone else whose actions you believe are putting people at risk you should feel free to challenge them. If you do not feel able to challenge them or you are not satisfied with their response, you may report the incident to the COVID-19 Officer for further action in accordance with the College COVID-19 Procedure, (which might, if thought necessary in the circumstances of the case, include reference of the matter to the Dean for consideration under the College Student Disciplinary Procedure)

The College COVID-19 Procedure is available at COVID-19 Procedure.

The College Student Disciplinary Procedure (College Rules) is available at Magdalene College Rules.