On 19 October, students housed in university residences were sent an email announcing a phased return to normal, pre-COVID levels of housekeeping and residential services. Despite most of the student body returning to St Andrews for an in-person experience, significant restrictions had to be implemented in the halls of residence. Mask wearing in common areas and division of utilities amongst households were among many guidelines that new students have had to grow accustomed to. The University Residential and Business Services (RBS) had also introduced changes to routine house-keeping services, which included enhanced cleaning in public and shared spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. According to the email, these changes follow “a review of risk assessment and service levels,” citing the continued compliance from both students and staff with the current safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since 25 October, students have been allowed overnight guests in their halls of residence, given their compliance with previously established rules. These can be found on the University website and include but are not limited to a three-day limit on overnight stays, and a requirement to notify Residence Management in their hall. Additionally, from 25 October, RBS housekeeping has returned to a “normal level'', reverting to a Monday to Friday service instead of the seven-day service that was deemed necessary at the start of the university year. Cleaning stations have been provided in shared bathrooms, kitchens, and high-touch areas for students to self-supplement this reduction in staff.
Perhaps the most significant and somewhat unprecedented change outlined in the email is the reduced presence of RBS staff. All university residences, apart from David Russell Apartments, Agnes Blackadder Hall, and University Hall, will no longer have residential services staff present from Friday evening to Monday morn- ing. Should students need help during this time, the email suggests they refer to the relevant “How to Get Help” poster in each residence. It is unclear how this reduction is related to a “phased return to normal” in response to COVID-19 restriction compliance.
Despite the unpredictable nature of this phased return to normal house-keeping services, the most long-term plan outlined in the email regards the cleaning of student bedrooms. In Andrew Melville Hall, John Burnet Hall, McIntosh Hall, St Salvator’s Hall, Gannochy House, St Regulus Hall, and University Hall, bedroom cleaning will hopefully be restarted in the new year, but specific plans will be confirmed in December, according to the email. While there are hopes for a smooth phased return, no promises are being made. “If the local situation changes, we may need to change the phasing or revert to our previous covid safety measures,” the email says. RBS is also constrained by the guidelines set by the Scottish Government, which, according to The Scotsman, “will not hesitate” to strengthen COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, should recent trends con- tinue down a path to a spike in cases. To conclude the email, students were reminded of their responsibility in the halls to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as wearing masks in indoor public spaces, ventilating rooms, and reporting symptoms to the Covid Helpdesk and the NHS.