• Dragon Media

Covid: Welsh Government consider staggering start dates for uni students next term

By Olivia Grist

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton, has said the Welsh Government is considering staggering start dates for university students after Christmas.

Dr. Atherton made the announcement during the government briefing, where he was accompanied by the Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Board, Dr. Gillian Richardson.

It comes after the first Coronavirus vaccine was approved in the U.K.

There has been no news on when it will become available to students, despite evidence that under 25’s are spreading the virus.

Asked why students have not been prioritised for the vaccine, especially when most will be travelling home for Christmas over the next few weeks, Dr. Richardson said she could ‘sympathise’ with the question, but those who are younger often have a milder case of the virus and would be less likely to need hospitalisation.

In absence of the vaccine, Dr. Atherton said there needs to be discussions on how best they can stop students from spreading the virus whilst they travel, and that staggering university start dates seemed to be a sensible solution – although it’s not yet been confirmed this will happen.

But for international students like Lucyna Polok, the last-minute planning isn’t good enough.

The second-year student, from Poland, said: “International students have to book their plane tickets months in advance otherwise they get too expensive or flights are fully booked.

“I think the government needs to make a decision sooner because if I book my flight back to Cardiff then have to change it, I may not be able to return which would make it almost impossible for me to complete my studies.”

There have been no official plans confirmed for when students return after Christmas, but they are expected in the coming weeks.