St Andrews has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, reportedly due to the Welly Ball, leading to disruptions in student life, including a short-notice closure of the Main Library for cleaning.
At the time of writing, there are at least 98 active COVID-19 cases amongst students and staff at the University, with 107 people in isolation as a “contact of a confirmed positive case” and 63 isolating “whilst a suspected COVID-19 case awaits test results” according to the University website.
Marika Schenkels, co-director of the Welly Ball committee, denied allegations that a member of Welly committee knowingly went to the event despite receiving a positive COVID-19 test, saying, “Our committee tested ahead of the event and any committee members who were positive did not attend the event.”
She added, “A member of our committee ended 10 day isolation in time to attend the ball upon numerous negative tests.”
She continued, "[We] have worked so hard on this and followed all measures put in place by our venue and the government, so we'd like to leave things there."
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has led to changes in the daily routines of students. The library was forced to close on short notice after someone tested positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours of being in the building.
Graeme Hawes, senior manager of the University Library, said, “As you know, safety of our staff and students is our utmost priority, but we in the Library also work extremely hard to minimise any disruptions to our students and to offset these where possible with alternative service provision. This approach has served us well in that there have been no cases of Covid transmission traced to Library spaces — a record we would like to keep intact.”
They added that library closures, including the unexpected incidents, have solely been the result of COVID-19 protocol, “This semester the only closures of the sudden type you indicate have been due to COVID-19 cleaning protocols, which are usually notified as soon as a positive test has been reported to the University and contact tracing has commenced. We have only closed parts of the Library at short notice due to COVID-19 cleaning response protocols and our services have been restored as soon as it is safe to do so.”
On the unavailability of certain study spaces, Hawes said, “In having controls on the number of study spaces on offer at any one time, we are balancing the demand for study space against our responsibility to keep the Library safe for all to use.”
The University last updated its Covid numbers on November 11 2021, 7.55pm.