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Thousands of Oxford's University students return home for Christmas

The "travel window" starts from today.

With many desperate to spend the festive season with their loved ones, the government has devised a plan to reduce the risk of passing on COVID-19 to older family members.

Students can travel home between 3-9 December, which has been timed to coincide with the ending of the national lockdown as people are less likely to have contracted the virus in this time.

It also means that if people have to isolate during this week, they would still be able to make it home before Christmas once their quarantine period ends.

Latest stats show Oxford Brookes recorded just 8 cases in the week up to November 27th, 21 people tested positive at Oxford University in the same period.

Oxford University's own system has carried out 5,228 tests since it launched in August, just over 1000 have come back positive.

Meanwhile Oxford Brookes says face-to-face teaching is continuing as planned up to and including Friday 4 December - after that and for the remainder of Semester 1, teaching for the majority of programmes will be moved online.

Both of Oxford's Universities started a rapid asymptomatic Covid-19 testing programme last weekend, using lateral flow tests that can give a result within an hour.

Brookes is also working in conjunction with the Oxford Bus Company to provide a free coach service for students between its halls and Oxford Train Station this weekend, to 'assist safe travel during the student travel window.'

Universities have been told they should end all face-to-face teaching by 9 December, although they can still continue with virtual lectures.

Anyone who hasn't returned home by then risks having to isolate for up to two weeks in their university accommodation if they catch the virus or come into contact with a positive case.

According to government advice, you should have a period of "restricted contact" before returning home - with similar restrictions to the national lockdown - if you miss the cut-off date.

Oxford University and Brookes students will have their return to campus staggered over five weeks after Christmas, with every student offered a test when they arrive back.

Medical students and those on placements or practical courses with a need for in-person teaching will be prioritised.

The government has also advised people who have spent the festive period in Tier 3 areas where there is mass community testing to take a test before travelling back to university.

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