Update centre

Update on coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for residents

25 March 2020; 12:00

 

The safety and wellbeing of our resident community is of utmost importance to us, and we want you to have the latest guidance on COVID-19.

Helping our students and staff protect themselves and others is our top priority during this difficult and uncertain time. From the outset of the outbreak of COVID-19 we have been in regular contact with Public Health England and other expert authorities, and we will continue to monitor the evolving situation closely. Government and NHS guidance will inform the actions we take.

 

Latest Government Guidance

The Government continues to update its advice which we must all follow to reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus. We will continue to provide you with the latest government guidance as it becomes available by updating this page, and letting you know of updates by email. To stay informed of developments, we also recommend that you closely follow your university’s guidance.

 

What you need to do

Stay at home

As of 23 March, the latest guidance is to stay at home. ‘Staying at home’ means staying in your flat or studio apartment, and you should only leave your accommodation for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Protect yourself and others

Please read the Government’s advice for how to protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19, and remember the importance of good handwashing and respiratory hygiene. In addition, the government has introduced new measures on social distancing, including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. 

What to do if you feel unwell, and information on self-isolation

The Government advises that you should self-isolate in your room or studio if you have a high temperature (if you don’t have a thermometer check if you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or you have a new, continuous cough (which means you are coughing repeatedly). Please read the NHS’s advice on COVID-19 and its advice on self-isolation in student accommodation here.

If you cannot cope with your symptoms during self-isolation, if they get worse or are no better after 7 days you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. The service for Scotland is here and for Wales is here. Call 999 for medical emergencies.

As the Government is no longer routinely testing for COVID-19, residents may feel unwell with mild symptoms, but not know if they have the virus. If, however, a case is confirmed through testing, we will act quickly and decisively on the instructions given by the relevant authorities, and will work with our university partners to ensure a coordinated response, and to ensure that students receive the right advice and support. We will also arrange for a professional deep clean of the affected resident’s room, common flat spaces and any common areas the affected resident may have used, as advised by the authorities.

Keeping in touch with family and friends, and where to access help

If you are self-isolating in your room, please let friends, family and your university know.

It is important to take care of mental as well as physical health and seek support if needed.  Staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people. Beyond keeping in touch with family and friends over the phone and on social media there are sources of support and information that can help, such as Every Mind Matters. We also partner with Relate, the UK’s largest relationship charity, who have posted tips on keeping relationships healthy during self-isolation and social distancing.

If you are tested for COVID-19 at any point and have the virus, you must let your site team know via phone or email, as well as letting your university know.

 

What iQ is doing

Whilst these are unprecedented times, we have been planning our response for a number of months and have already taken a number of steps to ensure that we can continue offer our residents a safe, comfortable and welcoming home. We have:

  • Kept residents regularly updated with the latest information and guidance, including displaying information provided by Public Health England.
  • Been in close contact with our university partners to ensure a joined-up approach at all our sites, and to ensure students are able to access the support they need.
  • Taken steps to ensure that our communal spaces are clean.
  • Put hand sanitiser gel in receptions and common areas for general use of residents and staff, in line with Government advice for practising good hygiene.
  • Reinforced our well-established operational protocols for our staff, should a student become unwell and medical support be required.
  • Asked our site teams to practice social distancing measures with each other and residents, and perform only essential activities that allow us to safely operate our buildings.
  • Temporarily closed all gyms, gaming rooms and cinemas in line with government guidance, and ask students not to use any of the common areas. We are closing communal social and study spaces, where possible, to support social distancing measures.

Behind the scenes, we have also been making sure that we have contingency measures in place with our suppliers, to ensure that – as much as we can – services in our properties can continue uninterrupted.

Following the most recent government guidance issued on 23 March 2020, we are moving to a reduced number of staff on site, with other staff supporting students remotely. If you need anything at all, you can call your site team directly and can find all their details here.  This is a necessary to enable us to adhere to government guidance, while continuing to support our students and run our properties effectively and safely.

Our iQ community

We encourage the iQ community across all sites to support one another at this time. Whilst social distancing, and the prospect of self-isolation for those who are unwell, may be daunting, we want to ensure that nobody feels isolated, lonely or without what they need.

If you need help, we suggest that you get in touch via the app, post on your resident Facebook page, or email [email protected], and as a community we will do all we can to support you. If you know someone who does not have access to Facebook or other groups you are using to communicate and exchange, do reach out to them via text, phone or email to check they have what they need – or simply to check they are ok.

We believe in supporting each other in a time of difficulty. We can help limit the spread of the outbreak by acting now and together in a safe, considerate and friendly way.

 

Other practical advice

Post collection and food delivery

Please be considerate during this time about the amount you are ordering online, so that our teams can effectively manage deliveries.

If you or your flatmates are self-isolating and have parcels or food delivery arriving on site, please either send a flatmate who is not self-isolating to reception to collect it for you or, alternatively, let the site team know by phone or email, and they will facilitate getting this to you by leaving it outside your flat door.

Gyms, Cinemas, Gaming Rooms and Common Areas

We are temporarily closing all gyms, gaming rooms and cinemas, and ask students not to use any of the common areas. ‘Staying at home’ means staying in your flats or studio apartments, unless you are leaving for any one of the four reasons specified by the government.

Guests

We are temporarily suspending guest and visitor access, to protect staff and the student community. If you are self-isolating and you have arranged for a friend or family member to bring you essential food supplies or medicines, they can bring this up to you or leave it at reception and a member of staff will put this outside your door for collection.

Room and flat maintenance

We will continue to carry out essential maintenance as required.

Fire alarms

In the event of a fire alarm, please evacuate the building as you would normally, but where possible, keep at least two metres (about three steps) away from other people.

We ask all residents to be vigilant in terms of preventing fires and in particular false alarms at a period when emergency services responses may be stretched due to sickness. We each have a role to play, so please:

  • Call 999 in the event of a fire being discovered. As ever, please do not rely on others including staff calling the Fire and Rescue Service.
  • Do not leave fire doors propped open.
  • Don’t smoke inside the building, including vaping.
  • Don’t tamper with smoke detectors or other fire safety equipment.
  • Keep your shower room door closed while taking a shower.
  • Remember that candles are not permitted.
  • Don’t leave cooking unattended, even for a few moments.
  • Don’t cook using deep fat frying – shallow fry if you need to.
  • Make sure the cooker is off when you have finished using it.
  • Don’t use metal containers or leave cutlery in the microwave when in use.
  • Do not use cooking appliances, such as rice cookers, in your bedroom.
  • Keep away from the smoke detector when using aerosols.
  • Make sure you are always able to hear or respond to a fire alarm.

 

Carefully consider your own travel plans

The Government is regularly updating its travel advice.  If you have upcoming plans to travel, we recommend that you check the Government website for the latest advice when making or reviewing your plans. You should also be mindful that this guidance may change in the coming days and weeks, and there may be wider travel disruption. 

For students who need to extend their stay into the post-term summer months, we will be able to facilitate this, and will work with you depending on your needs. Please contact [email protected] with your request.

 

Other questions you may have

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

 

Generally, COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term health conditions.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The NHS advises that symptoms usually include a cough, high temperature and difficulty breathing. The government advises that if you have any symptoms – even mild ones – to stay at home. Find out more here.

Can I end my tenancy early?

We understand that these are uncertain and difficult times. We are considering what we can do to support students who need to check out before the end of the academic year. Please send any requests to [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Can I extend my booking if I need to?

Yes. For students who need to extend their stay into the post-term summer months, we will be able to facilitate this, and will work with them depending on their needs. We are focused on providing a safe and secure home for the many thousands of students who are still in residence. Any requests to extend your tenancy should be made via [email protected] or your site team. 

Any additional questions?

If you need to get in touch, please contact [email protected].