College and University Business Officers (CUBO) has released its latest guidance for student accommodation providers ahead of the new academic term. https://www.cubo.ac.uk/page/Student_Accommodation
Jo Hardman, CUBO Chair of CUBO Board, explained: “The advice is based on current published government information. It is not a replacement for government guidance but is the best interpretation by sector practitioners of how the official guidance available at this point could apply to student accommodation.
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.
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.”
The guidance covers many aspects including risk assessments, quarantine, travel corridors, face coverings, cleaning of non-healthcare settings outside the home and guest accommodation for short term guests or courses.
In the last few months, CUBO has been involved in several consultation initiatives around COVID-19 government policy. This includes participation in two UUK-led groups and membership of the ScotGov Student Accommodation Group and FE/HE Mitigation and Outbreak Advisory Group.
CUBO has also undertaken two snapshot surveys to gauge university accommodation occupancy during and after lockdown, and a joint survey with ASRA of Scottish universities and private PBSA to provide information on the initial Covid-19 impact and response.
Since May 2020 CUBO has run 21 virtual round tables and webinars for members and partners on COVID-19, and a COVID-19 resource library has been built including sector reports and updates, government guidance links, round table summaries and best practice documents.