On Monday 30 November, the University of Sheffield opened its asymptomatic Covid-19 testing centre in a bid to get students home for Christmas.

As of the morning of Monday 7 December, the site had completed roughly 3,053 tests out of the 5,649 booked so far. 

Keith Lilley, Director of Infrastructure at the University, praised the “phenomenal team effort” that allowed the test centre to be built and ready for students within just 16 days. 

The site consists of 44 testing bays, which contains step-by-step information for students to self-administer their tests.


Each bay is supervised by a trained member of staff who can support students through the process and then undertake the test processing itself. 

The University has employed around 300 centre staff, including University of Sheffield students, to ensure the site can work at full capacity, administering up to 1,800 tests per day. 

Rob Gower, Associate Director of Human Resources, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the scale of the response [to work at the centre] and are grateful to all our students and staff who have expressed an interest in our roles and who have been keen to help us get the centre running.”

“We are being supported by a number of experienced colleagues from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, who are providing us with clinical expertise, leadership and training and we are extremely grateful to colleagues in the Academic Unit of Medical Education for freeing these staff up from their normal duties to support us.”

Students who have a positive test are required to self-isolate and book a confirmatory test through the NHS, before notifying the University.

Despite this causing a delay to any positive cases being reflected in the University’s published figures, a spokesperson for the University told Forge Press that numbers are expected to be low.

In the first week of being open, there have been 12 new cases reported at the University. On Monday 7 December there were a further 7 cases and on Tuesday 8 December, there were a further 5.

After an initial peak of student cases at the beginning of term in October, cases at Sheffield have continued to fall due both the national lockdown and Sheffield remaining in tier three from 2 December. 

However, in many universities, students have been encouraged to take two tests three days apart and to travel within 24 hours of receiving the second negative test result. 

The University of Sheffield advises one test to be taken, after completing all face-to-face teaching, within 24 hours of planned departure. 

A statement released to Forge Press by the University said: “We are pleased to have been able to open a Covid-19 rapid testing facility for our students ahead of many of them travelling home for the winter break, and are grateful to staff who made this possible in such a short space of time.

We’ve also taken care to ensure students with accessibility needs are catered for with disability access points and specially equipped booths.

We have seen a constant flow of students coming for testing since we opened and our test centre staff will work hard to give students a smooth and easy experience as testing continues.”

The testing centre has extended its opening days past 9 December for students who are unable to return home in the student travel corridor. The site will now be open on 10, 11 and 14 December, from 11am – 4pm.

Students are encouraged to take a test before travelling home to help reduce risk to themselves and others.

Image Credit: Pippa Coleshill

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