Between the start of November and the end of the Autumn term in December, the number of confirmed student cases known to providers decreased. In the 7 days to 4 November 2020 there were 4,031 confirmed cases known compared with 740 cases in the 7 days to 16 December 2020, a decrease of 82%. The number of confirmed cases in staff followed a broadly similar pattern, decreasing by 56% over the same period, although cases rose slightly in the final 7 day period (from 180 to 193). This period of decline in cases during November coincided with the second national lockdown (5 November to 2 December).
The rapid lateral flow tests that began for HE in December represent a discontinuity in the series. This is because individuals testing positive were still required to take a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, thereby potentially increasing the ‘confirmed’ cases known to providers.
The numbers of cases known to providers during and after the student travel window may have been depressed by students being absent from their term-time address (and less likely to report any positive test).
Confirmed case numbers known to providers for both staff and students increased in the week to 13 January but have since declined. In the week to 13 January, there were 2,854 confirmed student cases and 1,227 confirmed staff cases. In the week to 3 February, there were 965 confirmed student and 397 confirmed staff cases, representing falls of 66% and 68% respectively. These falls have occurred in the context of the third national lockdown, which began on 6 January and the smaller number of students in scope to return to face-to-face learning in January.
Providers were asked to include any known confirmed cases reported to them during the winter break in their first Spring term return. Confirmed case numbers in the first three weeks of the Spring term are therefore inflated by this effect. See the methodology document for details.
Provider response rate was at its lowest (47%) in the 7 days to 6 January. This reflects the fact that term start dates vary from provider to provider, and not all would have resumed teaching by that date.