A university that requires its staff and students to take daily Covid-19 tests to visit campus and undergo spot checks to prove it, has been condemned as “highly unethical” by a leading academic.
Cranfield University in Bedfordshire said anyone coming to the scene from January 17 must take a lateral flow test (LFT) the same day and photograph the result, or potentially be sent home. The measure was announced Tuesday in a letter to thousands of students from the university’s director of operations.
Philip Aspinall wrote: “Starting Monday January 17th, everyone who visits our site is required to take a daily lateral flow test. You will also need to write the date on the test and take a photo of it so that if you are asked to present the result during a spot check at a later date, you can do so.
Cranfield currently still offers online education, but said he is stocking LFTs – which will be free to use – so he can resume face-to-face learning. Its policy goes beyond current government guidelines – it states that high school, college and university students and educational staff, as well as early childhood staff, should continue to test themselves twice a week. , and more frequently if asked to do so, such as in an epidemic.
Cranfield has approximately 5,000 students and just under 2,000 employees. Over 7,000 people a year also participate in management and professional development programs. If other universities follow suit, even greater pressure will be placed on access to LFTs with NHS staff and other key workers complaining that they already have trouble getting regular supplies.
Allyson Pollock, clinical professor of public health at Newcastle University, said I: “It’s shocking and highly unethical. It is not proven and is not based on public health principles of screening. It should be challenged by unions, staff and students. One can only assume that the reason why the government only issued guidance [on Covid tests in education settings] is because of the lack of evidence to support the policy.
“The [Commons] The Public Accounts Committee said mass testing had failed to achieve its primary goal of preventing transmission. He also described the program as “confusing, overrated and incredibly expensive”. And today there’s a new preprint that questions the sensitivity of LFTs to Omicron detection.
“Plus, it’s one thing to ask for that to happen and another to control it and carry out spot checks. If I were a student or a staff member, I would ask for evidence to support the policy. It is medicalizing the healthy and it is totally false. Universities should know better.
A spokesperson for Cranfield University said: “This is a short-term measure to ensure that after the festive break our students can safely resume face-to-face learning.”
The Union of Universities and Colleges is set to issue its own guidelines on Friday in response to the government’s recommendations for testing and indicating what it thinks employers should do more across the UK.
The UCU should formulate specific requirements regarding the improvement of ventilation in institutions of higher and higher education and ensure the provision of high quality masks on site and other requirements regarding sickness benefits for those who need to be. ‘isolate.