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Self-isolation information for students

The information below outlines the steps to follow if you or someone you live with develops Covid-19 symptoms and/or test positive for Covid-19.

Please make sure you:

1. Tell us if you are self-isolating

We need to know if you are self-isolating, whether because

1) you have symptoms of Covid-19;

2) have tested positive for Covid-19; (LFT or PCR test)

3) or because you live with someone who has.

If you are self-isolating for any reason, we ask that you let us know as soon as possible.

Log in to Banner Self Service and update your status via the Covid-19 Student Status form. This triggers a message to your Department and College and informs them that you are self-isolating.

If you live in College, you can also email This inbox is monitored Monday – Friday 09.00-17.00. Outside of these hours, call the RSA on 0191 334 0545.

2. Book a PCR test (if required)

You should apply for a PCR test if you have the symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. You should immediately.

This still applies even if you have received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

You can register for a test on the NHS website. If you have no internet access, you should call 119 to arrange for a test.

If your test for Covid-19 is positive you will be asked to share your contacts with the NHS test and trace service.

If you get a positive lateral flow test result, you only need to confirm the result with a PCR test in limited circumstances. Check here if you are unsure. 

3. How long you need to self-isolate

The length of time you need to isolate for depends on your situation.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms

This rule applies to everyone, even if you have had one or more vaccine doses.

If you test positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started. You can stop self-isolating after 10 full days if your symptoms have gone or if you continue to have just a cough or a loss of sense of taste or smell (anosmia), which can last for several weeks.

If you still have a high temperature after 10 days, stay at home and seek medical advice. You must inform your flat and any other close contacts that you have tested positive. College will not do this for you.

You can do a rapid lateral flow test from day 5 of your self-isolation period (but not before) and another test the next day. Youy can stop self-isolating if:

  • both tests are negative
  • you do not have a high temperature

Report your test result after each test.

You should stop testing after you've had 2 negative test results in a row. 

If you test positive for Covid-19 and have no symptoms

This rule applies to everyone, even if you have had one or more vaccine doses.

If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for Covid-19, self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken.

If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10 day isolation period from the day the symptoms start. You must let us know so that we can update records and ensure that you are supported. 

You must inform your flat and any other close contacts that you have tested positive. College will not do this for you.

If you test negative for COVID-19

This rule applies to individuals who do not meet the UK Government exemptions from self-isolation and who are not eligible for the Test to Release scheme detailed below.

If you receive a negative test result but someone else in your flat is experiencing symptoms or has tested positive, you must isolate for up to 10 days from the date the first person in your flat reported experiencing symptoms, unless exempt.

UK Government exemptions from self-isolation for contacts

You do not have to self-isolate if you live in the same flat as someone with Covid-19 and any of the following apply:

  • you are fully vaccinated
  • you are below the age of 18 years 6 months
  • you have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • you are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Fully vaccinated means that you have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, and at least 14 days have passed since you received the recommended doses of that vaccine.

Although you meet the exemption criteria and even if you do not have symptoms, you should still:

  • get a PCR test on GOV.UKto check if you have COVID-19
  • follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
  • consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk from COVID-19
  • Update on 14 December 2021 following emergence of Omicron variant: Anyone aged 5 years and over who lives in the same household as someone with COVID-19 and who is not legally required to self-isolate is strongly advised to take an LFTtest every day for 7 days. If any of these LFT tests are positive they should self-isolate in order to protect other people. The public health advice for people with symptoms of, or a positive test result for COVID-19 remains the same for everyone.

Test to Release at Durham University for students who do not meet the exemptions from self-isolation for contacts – CURRENTLY SUSPENDED BY PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND DUE TO EMERGENCE OF OMICRON VARIANT

In consultation with Public Health England and Durham County Council, the University is currently operating a “Test to Release” scheme. Individuals who have had contact with someone who has tested positive and who do not meet the government exemption criteria as listed above may be released after one negative PCR result subject to testing using LFTs daily for (up to) a further six days before taking a final PCR to exit the process. Each case will be subject to an individual risk assessment, the key requirement being that you are able to avoid all contact with any positive cases while they are isolating.

Further information on the scheme can be found here.

If you live in College, you should contact to see if you are eligible to participate.

If you live out of College, you should complete this online form.

Test to Release is only available to students and staff who can attend daily LFT testing at University facilities. It cannot be used for non-essential travel, is not valid if you leave Durham, and is not an automatic entitlement.

4. Other queries on self-isolation

How do I identify a close contact?

A close contact is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You can be a contact any time from 2 days before the person who tested positive developed their symptoms (or, if they did not have any symptoms, from 2 days before the date their positive test was taken), and up to 10 days after, as this is when they can pass the infection on to others. A risk assessment may be undertaken to determine this, but a contact can be:

  • anyone who lives in the same household as another person who has Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19
  • anyone who has had any of the following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:
    • face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
    • been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
    • been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day)

A person may also be a close contact if they have travelled in the same vehicle or plane as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms during the flat self-isolation period

Tell us that you are experiencing symptoms and get tested. 

Depending on your test result, you will be required to self-isolate for at least 10 days from when symptoms started.

This might mean that you end up self-isolating for up to 20 days. We will support you throughout this period.

If your test result is negative, then you will revert to the 10 day asymptomatic self-isolation period that was triggered by the first case in your flat if you do not meet the UK government exemptions from self-isolation listed above.  

If another member of your flat develops symptoms after you have ended self-isolation

If anyone in your flat develops Covid-19 symptoms after the isolation period has ended, they should arrange to have a test and everyone in the flat should follow the steps in this guidance again and start isolating (unless exempt), even if they have had a positive Covid-19 test in the past.  

If someonewith symptoms in your flat doesn’t get tested

If the first person in a flat with symptoms chooses not to have a test, the presumption is that they are Covid-19 positive and they must self-isolate for at least 10 days.

This means that other members of the household also must isolate for at least 10 days.

The length of isolation for others in the household depends on if they:

  • develop symptoms
  • receive a positive test result
  • are asymptomatic – if you have no symptoms at all, you must still self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days 
  • are exempt as per UK Government guidelines

We would strongly encourage everyone to book a PCR as soon as possible if there any member of your flat has Covid-19 symptoms.

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you are not exempt from self-isolation (see ‘UK Government exemptions from self-isolation for contacts’ above), the following will happen:

  1. Alert: you will be alerted by NHS Test and Trace if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS Test and Trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue
  2. Self-isolate: you will be told to self-isolate until 10 full days after your last contact with the person who has tested positive. If, for example, your last contact with them was at any time on the 15th of the month, your self-isolation period ends at 23:59 on the 25th. It’s really important to do this even if you do not feel unwell because you could still be infectious to others. Failure to self-isolate for the full time period can result in a fine, starting from £1,000.

Your flat does not need to self-isolate with you if you do not have symptoms, but they should take extra care to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

  1. Take a PCR test: you are advised to take a PCR test after being identified as a contact, even if you do not have symptoms. You should also take a PCR test if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your self-isolation period. If your test is negative, you must still complete your self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet – this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
  2. you are travelling directly in order to leave England
  3. you need urgent medical assistance (or where your doctor has advised you to get medical assistance)
  4. travel to a COVID-19 testing site
  5. access critical public services including social services and services provided to victims (such as victims of crime)
  6. to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm

If your test is positive, you and other members of your flat, unless they are exempt, must follow the rules in guidance and self-isolate for 10 days. This is in addition to the time you have already spent self-isolating.

You and your flat’s self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started, or the day of your test if you did not have symptoms, and the next 10 full days. This means that if, for example, your symptoms started – or, if you did not have symptoms, you took your test – at any time on the 15th of the month, your self-isolation period ends at 23:59 on the 25th.

Leaving your accommodation during isolation

In England, you can only leave your accommodation in limited circumstances and while outside your accommodation, you should follow all UK government guidelines. The permitted exceptions include where:

NHS Volunteer Responders are also available if you need help collecting essential groceries, medication or would like a telephone ‘check-in and chat’. Call 0808 196 3646 to arrange volunteer support. You can arrange one-off support, or schedule more regular help whilst you are self-isolating.

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been confirmed as positive for Covid-19, you should ask a member of your flat to collect your food deliveries/meals and deliver them outside of your door.

Self-isolating will help prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends, the wider community, and particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. We strongly encourage all members of our College community to adhere to this guidance for everyone’s health and safety.

 5. Whilst you are living in self-isolation

Ordering supermarket deliveries

You can order a supermarket delivery to College however staff at reception cannot accept this delivery or bring the delivery to your room. Only one non-symptomatic or tested member of your household who has a negative test result can collect food deliveries. They must:

  • go straight to the collection point
  • return immediately
  • wear a face covering
  • strictly follow hygiene guidance
  • not go anywhere else
  • not engage with other students who live outside your flat
  • observe social distancing of at least two metres

If you have symptoms or have tested positive, ask a member of your household to collect your delivery and leave it outside the door of your room.

Very few supermarkets now deliver shopping in carrier bags. Take these with you to collect your shopping and remember to respect the safety of the delivery driver by keeping a distance and wearing a face-covering.

Waste removal

CLEAR bins bags should only used by non-Covid positive students who are self-isolating. The clear bags will be left on the foyer of the households for you to collect. Please dispose of your waste during your exercise time.

GREEN bags are to be used by Covid-positive students. They need double bagging and are to be placed outside your doorway on a morning at 08.00, a member of the Operations Team will collect the rubbish between 08.00-09.00. They will leave new green bags outside your rooms.

Postal delivery

We will deliver mail and parcels to your flat during your isolation period. 

Although we aim to deliver mail and parcels within 48 hours this may not always be possible.

Staying entertained in isolation

It is important to stay active and healthy during your isolation period.

The University’s Wellbeing team run a number of exercise and wellbeing sessions weekly during term time. 

All classes are free and for students only, students are welcome to have their mic and or cameras off during the time if they wish to.

Please find below the University’s Student Wellbeing social media information:

Instagram – @durhamwellbeing

Facebook -

Twitter - @ DurhamWellbeing

Website - Colleges and Student Experience Division : Student Wellbeing Programme - Durham University



Students who are self-isolating may use the laundry facilities between 10:00pm and midnight, Monday to Friday. The area will be thoroughly cleaned after this time, Please ensure that you clean touch points as you leave and enter buildings and wear face coverings.


Students can exercise once daily, for short periods, within College grounds. Please ensure that you use the open grassed area behind College and avoid all contact with others. Please ensure that you clean touch points as you leave and return to your block and wear face coverings.

Shared kitchens and bathrooms

Students who are self-isolating should avoid using the kitchen at the same time as flatmates and clean areas thoroughly after themselves.

It is helpful to try and agree times with flatmates when you can have sole use of the kitchen, to avoid contact.

Students with standard bathroom facilities may wish to identify a designated toilet and shower room to be used by students who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Students who share paired facilities should ensure they clean the facilities thoroughly after use.