Sheffield Hallam University calls on non-academic staff to test students for Covid-19

Sheffield Hallam University is asking non-academic staff to volunteer and help as it launches an on-campus coronavirus testing centre for asymptomatic students wishing to travel home for Christmas.
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The institution will be offering up to 1,000 tests a day to students on a “first-come-first-served basis” at the Covid-19 testing centre in The Owen Building between Monday, November 30, and Wednesday, December 9.

To help with the mass testing programme, Sheffield Hallam University said it asked its professional services and facilities staff to consider whether they would be able to volunteer at the centre.

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A Covid-19 testing centre will be open in Sheffield Hallam University's Owen Building from November 30A Covid-19 testing centre will be open in Sheffield Hallam University's Owen Building from November 30
A Covid-19 testing centre will be open in Sheffield Hallam University's Owen Building from November 30
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Students were also invited to volunteer, with roles including coordinating queueing, advising on how to take the test, and recording results – however positions have now been filled.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Hallam University said: “A number of students and staff have offered to support our asymptomatic student testing programme on a purely voluntary basis. There is no obligation or expectation for any member of staff to volunteer, and full training is being provided.

“Any staff member who chooses to work in our testing centre would see their shift replace their normal working day, whilst they would also receive additional pay for any shifts outside of their normal working hours. Tests and PPE are being provided by the Department of Health and Social Care and all volunteers will receive the appropriate training.

“Detailed risk assessments have been carried out in line with guidance provided by the government and measures will be in place to ensure safety guidance is strictly followed.”

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According to a recent report in The Guardian, university staff at various institutions across the country had concerns about being asked to volunteer to work within the mass testing programme.

These ranged from what PPE would be available to who would be responsible if false negatives resulted in infections being carried home, with some staff saying they felt pressured to take part.

A staff member at Sheffield Hallam, who wished to remain anonymous, said they did not share such concerns.

They said: “They were just looking for goodwill really. Personally, I haven’t felt any pressure to volunteer and I think some people actually want to help.”

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Sheffield University also called on staff and students to help launch its on-campus Covid-19 testing site ahead of the ‘student travel window’ next month.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.