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News article

A safe and welcoming start to the academic year

Published: 14 September 2020

Front entrance of York St John with a pathway flanked by lavender bushes

This is a joint statement from the vice-chancellors of the universities of York and York St John and the principals of Askham Bryan College and York College on our shared commitment to ensure the safe return of students to our City. 

Welcoming students to our city 
The onset of the Covid crisis has been extremely unsettling and like everyone else, our students have experienced financial, health and wellbeing challenges. We want to reassure all of the City’s residents that as students return to the region to begin or resume their studies, the safety and wellbeing of everyone in the local community is at the very heart of everything that we do. 

Robust preparation 
The start of the academic year will pose new challenges and we have been meticulously planning over the summer months, in close partnership with local bodies such as City of York Council and York NHS Trust, as well as experts in health and safety, for the autumn term. This collaborative approach will ensure we are ready to rapidly respond to any public health scenarios. Each of our decisions around the start of term is underpinned by the latest government and public health advice as well as our own thorough risk assessments.  

Measures in place to ensure Covid-secure campuses and grounds include: 

  • Hand washing and sanitising; physical distancing; enhanced cleaning and face coverings 
  • Online lectures and staggered starts for face-to-face learning 
  • Fully supporting overseas students who need to quarantine 
  • Events and activities to have limited numbers and to take place in carefully managed indoor and outdoor settings
  • Staff and students encouraged to walk or cycle to campus where possible to reduce demand on public transport  
  • Partners in City-wide health and safety measures to implement test, track and trace 

Working together
We feel sure that the sense of community and shared purpose, which is a hallmark of our institutions and the City of York as a whole, put us in a strong position in keeping each other safe.  

Throughout the pandemic, researchers have been at the forefront of efforts to find cures, refine testing and advise health agencies. Staff and students at our institutions have found ways to supply the NHS with vital apparatus and PPE, provide food to volunteers on hospital wards and support frontline NHS staff.  Our collective commitment to respect, fairness and compassion is going to be more important than ever in the next few months. 

Looking to the future 
Together with partners across the City, we are now working hard to support community resilience, rebuilding and recovery from the COVID-19 emergency. We know students will play a vital part in helping to rebuild a thriving city and in supporting local businesses. 

We believe now is the time to support our students in getting on with building their futures. Our graduates and learners will go on to become the doctors, nurses, researchers, innovators, professionals and skilled workers crucial to our economic and societal recovery from this crisis.  

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of York 

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice-Chancellor of York St John University 

Dr Tim Whitaker, Principal of Askham Bryan College 

Lee Probert, Principal of York College 

Carly Precious, Community and Wellbeing Officer, University of York Student Union (YUSU) 

Jamie Andrews, President, York St John University Students’ Union (YSJSU) 


For further information on our preparations for the start of term, please visit:

Contact us

Communications team

York St John University, Lord Mayors Walk, York, YO31 7EX

01904 876 466

To contact us out of hours, phone 07812 365 499