Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

Cambridgeshire universities and Covid-19

by Susan van de Ven on 6 October, 2020

I’ve submitted this question to Cllr Peter Hudson, Chair of the Health Committee, for the October 13th meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council:

Cambridgeshire’s two universities are reopening at a time of considerable concern over a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases particularly among young people aged 18-30, as well as a strain on the capacity to process lab tests, a responsibility of central government and supplemented by the University of Cambridge for its staff and students, a unique and welcome arrangement but with finite resource. 

While government guidance has been published on Covid-19 public health protocols and protections for the reopening of institutions of higher education, there is some ambiguity about responsibilities at national versus local level.   A further realm of ambiguity exists where protocols are recommended but not required. 

Arrangements for meeting and then monitoring standards by the multitude of individual organisations and settings that make up a university, such as individual colleges and various other accommodation arrangements, is a complex operation, and a matter of public concern.

How will the Cambridgeshire County Council Public Health directorate and its district council and university partners demonstrate assurance around meeting Covid-19 protections in our university settings?  Equally, what are their channels for voicing concern, whether local or relating to national support, as they strive to deliver an unprecedented brief? And within the assessment of county infection control, will the ongoing results from Cambridge University testing be shared with the local public health team throughout the coming months?

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