DMU students worried about a possible lockdown and spending Christmas away from their families

By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira

An increase in COVID-19 cases has left university cities as Sheffield, Leeds and Oxford on the brink of lockdown. Now, students at De Montfort University are worried the same could happen in Leicester.

Currently, in the second week of classes, DMU has reached a total of 16 outbreaks on campus with 172 cases confirmed among staff (13) and students (159).

One of the most severe outbreaks was associated with the university’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee leisure centre, with nine coronavirus cases confirmed.

In a statement, De Monfort University said: “Last week five staff and four students have tested positive for Covid-19 at De Montfort University and we are working to ensure that appropriate actions are being taken to protect staff and students. We have undertaken enhanced cleaning of areas of campus involved.”

Ricardo Delgado, an international student at DMU, has decided not to return to campus for fear of a possible lockdown.

“As the number of cases continues to rise, I would be risking a lot if I decided to return to Leicester. Chances are I would not be able to come back home, I would not be allowed to travel, so I would be alone in the UK for an uncertain amount of time,” he said.

“I do not think the university is doing enough to prevent the spread of the virus and did not feel comfortable to return. I hope that I am wrong, but the way I see it the number of cases should continue to increase and everyone will be in lockdown soon,” Ricardo added.

Matt Hancock’s recent statement, refusing to rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas to limit the spread of COVID-19, has also worried students who do not want to spend the holiday season locked in their halls.

“It is very cruel to make students spend the holiday season away from their loved ones. And in our case, as international students, it is even more likely to happen. I really did not want to put myself and my family through such distress,” Ricardo explained.

Morgana, second-year journalism student, also disagrees with the measure: “They should adopt online learning and let the students return home, instead of forcing us to expose ourselves to the virus and then preventing us from seeing our families during the holidays. That will have major implications for the student’s mental health. I can speak for myself, I would be devastated if I could not go home for Christmas.”