Common questions and answers around Covid-19 testing and the student travel window. This information is regularly reviewed and may change as plans develop.
If you have Covid-19 symptoms you must self-isolate and let us know using a simple form. All the details are available here.
You can jump to:
- background to the student travel window
- travel arrangements
- teaching and learning
- symptoms, testing and cases
- travelling to other countries
- students at their vacation address
- students remaining on campus
- testing and travel plans for January.
Why has the government brought in these arrangements?
The lockdown in England is set in law to finish on 2 December and the government is committed to this date.
So that you can be home at the end of the winter term but also to reduce any transmission risk, the government is asking you to return home after the end of the lockdown, in a ‘student travel window’ lasting from 3-9 December.
This excludes students who have tested positive for Covid-19 or have been notified by the NHS Test and Trace system.
Can I go home before 3 December?
No: in order to travel home safely, you are required to follow the current lockdown restrictions in England until 2 December, completing this period in your term-time accommodation.
You should not leave your term-time accommodation during lockdown (except for specific purposes, such as travelling to campus for in-person teaching).
We realise this can be tough, but avoiding moving between households can help to protect you and your family by reducing the risk of transmission if you decide to go home in December.
When can I go home?
From 3-9 December, during the ‘student travel window’, you will be allowed to travel home on staggered departure dates that we set.
We expect to provide more information on the teaching arrangements for the final week of term (commencing 7 December) and we will provide information about this in our regular updates to students.
So that you can travel home in the travel window, face-to-face teaching at Sussex will finish by 9 December at the latest.
We are working with the University of Brighton to agree the staggered return home of students between 3-9 December. This will also alleviate pressures on public transport.
Can I travel to other places?
No, this government scheme is designed to allow you to join one other household (that is, your family home).
Do I have to travel home on a particular day and at a particular time?
Please try to avoid busy routes and times. If you use public transport (e.g. bus, coach or train), make sure you wear a face covering unless you are exempt.
Can a family member pick me up from uni after the lockdown?
Yes, a family member can pick you up by car to take you home at the end of term. Your family member will not be required to self-isolate because of this. However, you should both strictly follow the government’s Covid-19 safer travel guidance for passengers.
Can I go home by car with a friend or another student?
You can share a car with other students or friends who live in your household or belong to your support bubble to travel home at the end of term.
However, you should strictly follow the government’s Covid-19 safer travel guidance for passengers.
You can reduce the risk of transmission by:
- opening windows for ventilation
- considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
- cleaning your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
- wearing a face covering
- not sharing a car with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.
Can I use public transport to travel home after lockdown?
You should travel home via private transport wherever possible – but, if you have to use public transport (e.g. bus, coach or train), you should strictly follow the government’s safer travel guidance.
This includes wearing a face covering unless you are exempt, planning your journey in advance to avoid busy times and routes, washing/sanitising your hands regularly, and keeping your distance while travelling.
We are liaising with local transport providers (train, bus and coach operating companies) so they are aware of our plans. Please book ahead if possible.
Students who had already booked train tickets to travel home before the announcement of the student travel window can now rebook their tickets to travel between 3-9 December without paying additional fees.
Students who bought an Advance ticket before 11 November for a date of travel after 9 December can now change their Advance tickets to travel during the window without paying a change of journey fee of up to £10.
Flexible tickets such as Off Peak or Anytime can already be rebooked to another date without payment of an admin fee.
For students who have booked journeys by coach in advance, most passengers should already be able to make changes to their booking for free. Check with your operator for more information.
If you test positive for Covid-19, you must not use public or private transport, and you must self-isolate in your current accommodation for 10 days.
See guidance about local travel.
I’m planning to remain on campus / in Brighton for a bit longer, and then return home. Would I be required to leave as soon as I’ve had my second negative test?
You should leave as soon as practicable, but we understand that in some cases this might be a few days after your second test. You could contract the virus in the intervening time between test and travel (or during travel on public transport), so it is important to maintain social distancing, wear a face mask, etc.
It’s just not possible for me to go home immediately after my test – should I wait to get tested as close as possible to the time I leave, and then try to isolate as far as possible afterwards?
We would certainly advise leaving the second test until as close to your travel date as possible (the last date for testing in the Sport Centre is 11 December).
It would be up to you whether to isolate after that, or just be sure you observe social distancing, wear a face mask, etc. If you are returning home and will come into contact with more vulnerable people (e.g. older grandparents or someone with an underlying health condition), you will no doubt want to take the most stringent precautions. The point of the testing is to allow you to make appropriate risk-based decisions based upon your personal circumstances.
When will face-to-face teaching finish at Sussex?
Face-to-face teaching at Sussex will finish by 9 December at the latest.
The government selected this date as the cut-off date for in-person learning to allow you enough time to complete self-isolation if necessary before Christmas, i.e. if you develop symptoms that day or you are identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
When will online learning start?
We will move all learning online by 9 December.
When will testing start?
Testing will start on Monday 30 November and continue until Friday 11 December.
How many testing sites will there be? Where will they be?
Our testing site will be on campus, in the Sport Centre.
How can I get a test?
Just fill in our booking form to book a test.
I’m a PhD researcher – do I qualify as a student who can receive a test?
Yes, the tests are available to all University of Sussex students, both undergraduate and postgraduate (and including doctoral researchers).
What do I do if I need to cancel or change my test booking?
If your circumstances change and you need to cancel or amend your test booking, email a request to email@example.com. Please include the following details: name, email address, date and time of the original booking. Then book yourself a new test if appropriate.
Why should I take a test?
We encourage you to take a Covid-19 test because, if it is negative, there is a reduced risk in you travelling home, and a reduced risk of transmission to your family and home community.
To support your return home in December, we will be utilising lateral flow devices (LFDs) - a clinically validated swab antigen test that does not require a laboratory for processing and can turn around rapid results within an hour at the location of the test.
If you test negative and you are leaving Brighton for the winter vacation, you should return home as soon as possible after receiving your result.
All testing will be completed by the end of term, allowing any students who test positive to complete self-isolation at university before returning home for Christmas.
How accurate are these tests?
The LFD tests have a high specificity, which means there is a very low chance of false positive test results.
The test does not detect all positive cases, however, and works best in cases with higher viral loads – i.e. those who are most infectious.
As the test is easy to administer and does not require a laboratory, repeat tests can be carried out.
The benefit will be the ability to detect a significant number of people without symptoms who are infectious; they will then be asked to self-isolate, which will reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.
What happens if I test positive for Covid-19?
If you test positive, you must self-isolate in your current accommodation for a period of 10 days.
We will make arrangements to support you if you need to self-isolate (after a positive test or if you are symptomatic) beyond 9 December.
I have Covid-19 symptoms – what should I do?
You should not travel home if you have symptoms of Covid-19. Typical symptoms include: a new continuous cough, a high temperature, and a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell. If you think you might have coronavirus, you must isolate immediately and book an NHS test.
If you test negative and are not a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you can travel home by any mode of transport and do not have to undertake any further periods of self-isolation.
We will make arrangements to support you if you need to self-isolate (after a positive test or if you are symptomatic) beyond 9 December.
Someone I live with has symptoms – what should I do?
If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested for positive Covid-19 (a house mate, for example), you should book a test via NHS Test and Trace.
If you then test negative for coronavirus, you can return home if you wish to do so, taking into account the risk of transmission to your family, but you must continue self-isolation at home for a period of 14 days. You should travel home via private transport wherever possible. If you have no other option than to use public transport, you should strictly follow the government’s safer travel guidance for passengers, for instance by observing social distancing, wearing a face covering, and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently during the journey.
If you then test positive, you must self-isolate in your current accommodation for a period of 10 days. We will make arrangements to support you if you need to self-isolate (after a positive test or if you are symptomatic) beyond 9 December.
I’ve already had Covid-19 – what should I do?
If you have tested positive for Covid-19 within the ten days before your booked lateral flow test, you should not undertake the lateral flow test because you will still have antibodies in your blood that could give you a false positive reading.
I’m under the age of 18 – do I need parental permission to take a test?
If you are under 18 but over the age of 16, you can self-consent to take the test.
I understand that the lateral flow test involves me swabbing my nose and throat. I’m not able to do this, so how can I be tested?
Additional support will be available for anyone who requires extra help with the testing process; most people will be able to self-swab with some additional support. Alternatively you may bring a trusted close contact from your support bubble who can do the swabbing for you, under the guidance of site staff.
What about data protection? What will you do with my personal information?
We are using an online booking tool so you can book your test appointments. See information about data protection.
Who will have access to my test results?
On arrival at your test appointment, you will be provided with a test kit and card and asked to register. The University will not have access to any of your registration data.
You will be notified of your test result via SMS or to the email you provide when you register. The University will not see your test results.
Your personal information relating to test registration and results is processed by NHS Test and Trace. See information about how NHS Test and Trace will use your data.
I’m a student on placement in Brighton / around Sussex – how will these plans affect me?
The government recognises there are limited circumstances in which some placements may need to continue beyond 9 December – see government information on exemptions. You can come to campus and have your tests at any two points in the period from 30 November to 11 December (the last day of term).
Will extra parking be made available for students who do not feel comfortable taking public transport to campus for a test, and will it be free of charge during the testing period?
Parking will be available in the Sport Centre car park. This will be free for one hour for people attending the site for a test. The test appointment itself should take no more than 20 minutes, so there will be time to park and return to your car after the test within the free one-hour time slot.
As more students will be travelling to the Sport Centre for a test, will an increased number of buses be going to campus?
The buses to campus are quiet at the moment, so there are no plans to increase these services; however Brighton & Hove Buses can react swiftly if necessary to meet increased demand.
I hear there may be railway engineering works happening around the time of the testing period – is that correct?
We liaise on an ongoing basis with Southern Rail. The only planned rail works we are aware of are overnight, which should not have an impact.
I live in Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland – can I go home after lockdown?
Yes, governments of the four nations in the UK are working together to ensure that, no matter where you live or study, you are treated fairly and can travel home as safely as possible.
There is a shared commitment to ensure that all students will be able to return home at the end of term, including those who will be moving from England to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Each of the four nations will publish their own guidance, linked to their wider national guidance, and will set out clearly what this means for students moving between the four nations and what guidance you’ll need to follow at each stage to keep yourself and your family safe.
I’m an international student – can I travel home?
If you are an international student and are planning to return home at the end of lockdown (i.e. after 2 December) for the winter break, please follow UK government advice to ensure you are travelling safely.
You should not travel if you have symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) or are part of a household group that is self-isolating.
If you do travel overseas, you should also consider whether you need to self-isolate when you return, and you are advised to check any restrictions in the country you are travelling to, and whether you will also need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country.
You should also consider whether you can access course materials overseas if you choose to travel home.
Travel advice may change while you are overseas, so make sure you regularly check all relevant UK government guidance pages for updates.
If you are travelling to the EU, see government guidance regarding the UK’s exit from the EU (Brexit).
See more information on international travel and visas.
I need proof of a negative test in order to travel home internationally – will the lateral flow test be sufficient to meet my airline’s requirements for travel?
The testing facilities provided by NHS Test and Trace on the University of Sussex campus may not meet the requirements necessary for international travel.
You could contact your airline to find out what they require – and also to ask about the certification you will need to enter your home country. Some countries require evidence that you have not tested positive for Covid-19 before you can board a plane to travel there.
You may need to search online for private Covid-19 testing in the Brighton and Hove area.
We recommend that you also contact your national embassy for advice and information on travelling home.
Will I have to self-isolate when I get home in December?
You will be required to take further measures at home (such as self-isolation) only if you are informed by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate or if a member of your term-time household has symptoms.
You will need to follow any local guidance, keep social contact to a minimum, and take personal responsibility for your actions, to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible.
I need to stay on campus over the vacation – is that ok?
Yes. If this is the right choice for you, let us know that you will be remaining at university during the winter break.
This has been a particularly difficult year, especially for students, and we are putting in place special plans for students who stay on campus or alone in the Brighton area over Christmas.
We will provide support for students – including students who are self-isolating, international students, students who have previously been in care, and those with no alternative home address – who choose to stay on campus or in Brighton over the festive period.
If you’re alone, it’s especially important to take care of your mental as well as physical health and seek support if needed. You can access support via the NHS, whose Every Mind Matters website has a range of tips and advice. Other online resources are available, including from the mental health charity, Mind, and the new Student Space platform.
See more about looking after your wellbeing.
When will you tell us about plans for January onwards?
The government are looking to make use of mass testing to make your return to university as safe as possible. They will provide further guidance in the coming weeks, taking into consideration any future developments and the relevant scientific advice.