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Covid in Scotland: Can students go home? Your questions answered

By Claire Diamond
BBC Scotland News

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More than 1,000 students have been asked to self-isolate following a series of Covid outbreaks at several Scottish universities.

Many of them are young people living in university accommodation, having only recently left home for the first time.

The particular circumstances that students find themselves in means there are lots of queries about what they can and can't do.

We've put together the answers to some key questions.

If a student decides to move back to their family home permanently, will they have to self-isolate? Will the whole household?

Students are allowed to return to their family homes permanently. There has been some confusion about whether they and the rest of the household will have to isolate when they arrive.

BBC Scotland asked the Scottish government about this, and it said there was no need for the student or their family to self-isolate - unless the student had been specifically told to self-isolate (either because they had tested positive for coronavirus or had been in contact with someone who had).

The Scottish government added that it does suggest that students should "ideally minimise close contact and are particularly scrupulous about hygiene measures within their family for the first two weeks home, as this will allow the incubation period of any potential infection they may have caught at university to pass".

Can students who are having to self-isolate move back home?

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If a student has tested positive for coronavirus, of they have been in close contact with someone else who has tested positive, they will be told to self-isolate for two weeks (as would anyone else).

On Tuesday Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government's advice for those who were told to self-isolate was that they should stay and complete their self isolation in their student accommodation.

"But if... it is essential that they need the support that they would only get at home then all of their family need to self isolate," she added.

When the student returns to the family home the rest of the household must then also begin isolating for 14 days.

"If you have the virus and you are incubating it and you pass it on to them, that self isolation avoids them passing it on to others," the first minister said.

Are students presently living in halls of residence allowed to visit their family home? Donald, Dumfries and Galloway

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Students who are now living in halls of residence have created a new household with those in their halls.

That means they can't go back inside their family home to visit their relatives. They must follow the same rules as the rest of the population, which state you are not allowed to socialise inside homes with those you don't live with.

Students can still see their families, though. The same rules apply to them as to anyone else meeting up with someone from outside their household.

That means a student from one household could meet up with relatives from one other household outside (either in a private garden or in a park), or at a pub or restaurant. A maximum of six people are allowed to meet at any one time.

Shorter indoor home visits are permitted if there is a "reasonable excuse" such as a bereavement or family emergency.

I'm a student living with five other students. We all have boyfriends/girlfriends. Does this mean we can't see them? Elizabeth, Edinburgh

No, you can still see your partners. There is an exemption which allows non-cohabiting couples to move between each other's homes.

In relation to "student accommodation", what is a "household"? The flat within a hall of residence or the whole hall? Kenneth

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When students left their family homes and moved into student accommodation, they created new households with those they are now living with.

Household groups of students have been identified within each hall of residence.

The guidelines say that where accommodation is provided in the form of flats with shared cooking and bathroom facilities each "cluster flat" will normally be considered a household.

If there are long corridors of single rooms, then the households will be identified based on the areas that students share.

My daughter is a uni student but works from home therefore having no contact with others. Is she exempt from student restrictions? Deborah, East Ayrshire

There are now no specific restrictions for students. They should follow the same rules as the rest of the population.

Last weekend students were told not to visit hospitality venues but it was only for the weekend and in future they are asked to follow the same rules as everyone else.

However, the restrictions last weekend applied to all students - wherever they lived. Universities Scotland said it wanted all students "to give serious consideration" to following the restrictions, as a precaution.

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