Term 2 Start Details – 10 Dec 2020

You will be aware of general information circulating in the media regarding plans for the start of Term 2 in Scotland’s universities after the Winter Break.

Following specific guidance from Scottish Government to RCS, I’m pleased to confirm our T2 will commence on 5 January as planned with a restricted blended learning programme of teaching and assessment. Programme teams will be in touch with their students directly to outline what this means for them.

It has also been confirmed that a Student Testing programme – similar to that operating at the moment – will be in place in January. We will be partnering again with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) for this and I’m again grateful to the GCU team for this opportunity. Further details will follow on dates, times and booking procedures. This important information may come after the end of term, so I encourage students to keep an eye on RCS emails over the next week or so.

For students returning from international travel, it’s also important to note that you may still be required to quarantine for 14 days from arrival in Scotland, regardless of testing. You can check here. The RCS Home from Home team will be available to assist you should you need any support during this time.

Together as a community here at RCS, we have achieved so much this term due to the care and consideration each of you has shown in observing safety guidelines and protocols. In spite of the wonderful progress of a Covid vaccination programme, it’s going to be just as vital next term that we keep on working and living as considerately and safely as we possibly can. That will enable our learning, teaching and important in-person collaborations to continue as productively and safely as possible.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey,

Winter Break Covid Testing for RCS Students – 20 Nov

An update and full FAQs regarding the Winter Break Covid Testing Programme is available here.

There are two types of Covid tests, the first type of test is known as a PCR test, and looks for the virus’s genetic material (Ribonucleic acid or RNA). These tests are currently more commonly used in the NHS for symptomatic testing. They require a laboratory to be processed.

The second is called a lateral flow antigen test, which detects the coronavirus antigen that is produced when a person is infectious with coronavirus. These are quicker tests, that produce a result within 30 minutes and do not require a laboratory to be processed. This is for people who are asymptomatic and the one that is being offered in this programme.

If you are travelling beyond the UK please check the current requirements regarding Covid test results at your international destination as some countries may not accept this test (Lateral Flow Test) as verification. Please check the latest advice.

Why should I take a test?
People without COVID-19 symptoms, but who carry the virus (asymptomatic), are likely to spread the virus to many others. By getting tested, you will prevent the virus from spreading and still be able to return home in time for Christmas. Book a free test. The online booking service will be open from Tuesday, November 24.

Who can book a test?
Tests will be available for any RCS student intending to return home or to visit another household during the Winter Break.

Who cannot book a test?

You cannot book a test if:

  • you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 90 days (the lateral flow test is not suitable if you have already had the virus)
  • you already have symptoms of Covid-19 (you need to visit www.nhsinform.scot or call 0300 303 2713 to arrange a test)

When can I take a test and where do I get it? 
GCU will be operating the Student Test Site on their campus for GCU and RCS students from Monday November 30 to Saturday December 12.  The Centre will be open from 10 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday (inclusive)

Is the testing only for students in halls?
No, every RCS student who is planning on returning home or to spend the Winter Break with another household should take a test.

Will testing be compulsory if I want to go home?
No, but following UK and Scottish government advice, we are strongly recommending you do so to help keep your loved one, friends and community safe.

Will I only need one test?
No, you need to take two tests, three days apart. For example, 1st test on Monday, 2nd test on Thursday.

How and when will I get my results?
Test results will be delivered by text or email from the NHS within 24-48hrs (but could be sooner).

What will happen if I test positive?
There are a number of things you must do if you test positive.

If you test positive, you must not travel self-isolate at your term-time residence for a period of 10 days. This will still leave you enough time to return home for Christmas, as long as your second test is not later than December 12. You may be asked to take a confirmatory further test at a COVID-19 Test Centre. If you test positive in the first test, you do not need the second test, and should self-isolate immediately for 10 days.

The rest of your household must also self-isolate in accordance with Scottish Government requirements

I have previously tested positive for COVID-19, do I still need to take the test to go home?

No, people who have had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 90 days should not book at test at GCU’s Student Test Site as the test we are using is not suitable for you if you have already had the virus.

If my 2nd test is negative will I be given a letter or certificate to use for travel purposes?
You will receive an email and text notification from NHS Test and Protect

If my 2nd test is negative can I go home immediately?
Yes, you should travel home as soon as possible after you receive a negative 2nd test result (within 24hrs).  Remember, the test result is only valid at the moment in time you take the test.

If you are travelling beyond the UK please check the current requirements regarding Covid test results at your international destination as some countries may not accept this test (Lateral Flow Test) as verification. Please check the latest advice here https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Will I have to take a test again before I come back in January?
We are awaiting Scottish Government confirmation of arrangements for return to campus in January. Please ensure your contact details are up to date as we may need to contact you while you are on Winter Break.

Why should I get tested if I have no symptoms, if I’m positive I might have to self-isolate?
Students without COVID-19 symptoms, but who carry the virus (asymptomatic), are likely to spread the virus to many others. By getting tested, you will prevent the virus from spreading and still return home in time for Christmas.

We all do our bit to stop the spread of the virus and protect other members of society. Participating in the test will help our country fight the pandemic and save lives. If you require ot self-isolate the RCS Home from Home team is here to support you. Contact them at homefromhome@rcs.ac.uk

We also have a range of counselling support services you can access, link here https://portal.rcs.ac.uk/counselling/

Why are you telling students to get tested even if they are asymptomatic but telling other people to only get tested if they have symptoms?

It does seem confusing doesn’t it!  This test is specifically to enable students to travel home for the winter break as safely as possible.  The lateral flow testing programme does not replace current testing policy for those with symptoms. This is a new technology to identify individuals who don’t have any symptoms, but who may be asymptomatic carriers and therefore could still spread the virus to others.

Can my family get tested too?
No, this test is for RCS students. Family members of students are not eligible. If family members experience COVID-19 symptoms, they must follow standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through at www.nhsinform.scot or call 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Do I still have to maintain distancing after a negative test?
Yes, after a negative test, an individual is still susceptible to becoming infected and spreading the virus. Respecting distancing when its needed and other rules is the most powerful way of stopping the spread of the virus.

Is the test safe?
Lateral flow tests are validated technology, they are safe and the results are trusted. These tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation including at public health research laboratories to ensure they are verified for use.

Other than me, who will see my results?
If you have tested positive, a notification will be sent to Health Protection Scotland (in Scotland).

I’ve had 2 negative lateral flow test results but there are travel restrictions in Scotland now preventing movement between health board areas and to the rest of the UK — can I travel from/to a level 3 or 4 area or to the rest of the UK?

Yes. Students will be able to travel home at the end of term regardless of the protection level they are living in or moving to. You should continue to follow the Scottish Government’s FACTS guidance at all times.

Will my contacts be traced?
If you have a positive test result, your contacts will be traced by NHS Test and Protect. They will be required to self-isolate until 14 days after their most recent contact with you

If Glasgow is still in Level 4, will I be able to travel home for Christmas.
Yes, the Scottish Government have confirmed that students will still be able to go home

What if I am planning to travel internationally?
Please check the current requirements regarding Covid test results at your international destination as some countries may not accept this test (Lateral Flow Test) as verification. You may require to arrange a compliant test privately in time for your departure. Please check the latest advice here https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

My family is coming to collect me by car to take me home; do I still need to take a test?
Yes, we are strongly encouraging all students to take a test to help keep your loved one, friends and community safe.

Covid Update: November – 20 Nov

Dear students and colleagues,

You will be aware this afternoon First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that 11 local authority areas in Scotland, including Glasgow, will enter Level 4, the highest level of virus control from 6pm this Friday.

Under Level 4 general guidance, educational facilities at all levels remain open, with ‘restricted blended learning’ in place in Higher Education settings. We are currently awaiting specific guidance from government and public health official as to the impact on learning and teaching at RCS and will communicate this to you as soon as we have further details.

Until further notice you should continue with essential onsite learning activity as planned, also continuing to follow all public health and campus safety guidelines.


Covid Update: Pre-Winter Break Testing Plans- 13 Nov

Pre-Winter Break Testing Plans
Thursday, 12 November

Dear students,

You will probably be aware of announcements made in the Scottish Parliament yesterday by Education Minister Richard Lochhead regarding the Government’s plans to enable students intending to travel away from campus for the winter break to do so as safely as possible.

I wanted to let you know that we are working hard with our colleagues in government, public health and other institutions to develop our plans to support our community in this, as well as playing our part in a national effort to facilitate the safe movement of thousands of students around Scotland, the UK and beyond at the end of this academic term. I will have more details for you soon but I thought it helpful at this to share at this stage how RCS’s plans are shaping up, how they might impact on you and what action may be required of you.

1. The End of Term/Start of Next Term

At this stage we are not anticipating any change to the end of term dates or the beginning of next term with all scheduled learning, teaching and performance activity taking place as currently planned.

2. Testing

We will be offering a two-part Covid testing programme to every RCS student who plans to travel from their term-time residence and move household during the winter break.

This will involve students taking two separate tests, at least five days apart and is designed for students who are asymptomatic i.e. displaying no signs of Covid. We would advise anyone with Covid symptoms at any point to use normal testing pathways and not to engage in this special programme.

This will be an entirely voluntary programme but we would strongly encourage all students intending to move household during the break to be tested, especially those joining a household where there may be vulnerable people.

To reassure you, we are planning for:

All testing to be completed in time for any student who tests positive to self-isolate for the 10 days required post-confirmation and travel before the festive season
All RCS students to have access to a secure testing centre near our campus

3.Taking Extra Care

I remain grateful to everyone for the diligence with which you have followed public health and campus safety guidelines and the care you have shown for each other. As we head towards the end of term and particularly in the last two weeks before break I need to ask you to continue to be scrupulous in following these guidelines, even taking additional care around social gatherings to minimise as much as we can the risks of catching and carrying Covid on our winter break travels.

As a result of your thoughtful actions to date I’m pleased that our community has one of the lowest incidences of Covid in the sector. That is reassuring and of great credit to each of you but we cannot afford to be complacent in any way and I urge you to continue to play your part in keeping both this community and your loved ones and friends that you might plan to see over the holidays safe.

It’s also important to say that for those of you who, for whatever reason, may be choosing to stay in Glasgow over the winter break, there will be a wide range of social and welfare support services available to you through RCS’s Home From Home team.

What you need to do now:

Your Head of Department will have or be about to contact you to ask about your winter break plans and whether you intend to stay in your term-time residence or travel in Scotland, the UK or overseas.

Can you please share that information with them as soon as you can and preferably by the end of today. To assure you, this information is simply to help with planning and will be treated in confidence.

Finally I appreciate that these are challenging and extraordinary times and we are all dealing with situations that none of us have experienced before. Working together as a community we can keep each other and our loved ones safe, as well as supporting each other.

For now my warmest thanks again and my appreciation for all you are doing to keep yourself and our community safe.


Coronavirus – Temporary restrictions from 9 October – 9 Oct

From Friday 9 October, new temporary measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus will be in place in Scotland.

A message from the Principal and Assistant Principal – 1 Oct

Statement from Principal and President of SU – 24 Sept

Covid-19: discover our latest updates