NEW guidance has been issued for college and university students returning to the classroom in the coming weeks.

Scotland’s most senior clinicians have written a joint open letter to students with advice on what to do if they develop cold or flu-like symptoms - commonly referred to as 'Freshers' Flu' - during the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Jason Leitch, Dr Gregor Smith and Professor Fiona McQueen also reiterate that students need to be tested if they experience any of the three main symptoms: a new and continuous cough, a fever or high temperature, or a loss of or change in their sense of taste or smell.

The advice for students reads:

  • It is essential that anyone who has coronavirus symptoms or who shares a household with someone who has symptoms does not attend college or university classes, and they self-isolate along with all members of their household. If they test negative, self-isolation can end for everyone. If the test is positive, Test and Protect will give you further advice.
  • If you are a contact of a positive case you may be asked to have a test yourself.  It is important to remember that even if your test is subsequently negative you must still continue to isolate for a full 14 days.
  • If, however, you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 but have other cold and flu-like symptoms, you do not need to be tested and you do not need to self-isolate. You can attend university or college if fit to do so.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: Coronavirus or 'Fresher's flu'?Coronavirus or 'Fresher's flu'?

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “As college and university students return to campuses, everyone needs to stay alert to look out for COVID-19 symptoms.

“Remember, colds and other flu-like ailments are particularly common at this time of the academic year - the dreaded ‘freshers’ flu’ – and so we all need to be doubly vigilant if these infections start doing the rounds.

“This letter to everyone – which follows on from the revised guidance for colleges, universities and student accommodation providers we published last week – sets out clearly the signs of COVID-19, what to do if someone develops symptoms and when to go for a test.

“By following this advice, we can all keep ourselves and others safe.”

Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland President, said: “As the first semester kicks off, we all have a responsibility to follow public health guidance and keep each other safe on campus. As recent outbreaks have shown, the virus is still out there.

“More than ever students and staff need access to clear and simple national information, and we welcome today’s guidance from the Scottish Government specifically for people returning to campus.

“This information explains the actions that students should take if someone develops symptoms of COVID, either on campus or at home.”

It comes after revised guidance was issued for colleges, universities and student accommodation.

That guidance includes:

• A continuation of blended learning, with significantly reduced frequency and numbers of staff and students on campus compared to pre-COVID levels.

• A requirement to keep face-to-face teaching to small groups, generally less than 30 and supported by other infection prevention control measures. Group numbers of up to 50 students may be considered in some circumstances, but only where supported by a risk assessment.

• Advice that face coverings should be worn in any area on campus where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed, on dedicated college and university transport and in student accommodation indoor communal areas such as toilets, common rooms and laundry rooms.

• A requirement for colleges and universities to give clear information on regulations and guidance to students arriving from outside Scotland, and to take steps to ensure international students and staff who need to quarantine comply with the law, including using appropriate disciplinary procedures.

Full details can be found here.