Support and guidance if you’re self-isolating


Please note, this information has been pulled together by Durham SU from various sources on 8 to 13 October 2020 to try and provide a useful information base for students. We’ve done our best to fact check everything, but information is changing quickly and it’s up to you to double check it’s still relevant. Wherever possible we’ve included links to help you do this.

It’s a really confusing time for everyone at the moment, so it can be hard to keep up with how best to keep each other safe, what’s expected of you and what your rights are. This guide will tell you what you should do and what support is available if you’re self-isolating.

As a Durham University student, you have access to a free, confidential and impartial Advice Service, so if you have any concerns or you don’t feel that you’re getting the support that you need, get in touch with one of our experienced advisers using the ‘Get in Touch’ button here.

When to self-isolate

If you develop one of the three main symptoms of Covid-19 (described below), you should:

  • Get a test as soon as possible
  • Self-isolate if you have not had a test, if you test positive, or if your test results are unclear, for at least ten days from when the symptoms began. Please follow the guidance here.
  • Inform the University if you have a positive or unclear test, or if you have symptoms (even if you have not yet had a test or are awaiting the result of a test). You must do this through the Covid-19 Questionnaire on Banner Self-Service, accessed through duo.
  • If you are living in College, you must also inform the Duty Porter by telephone as soon as possible
  • If you are a liver out, you need to inform your housemates, anyone in your support bubble, or the accommodation manager in private halls. Your housemates or support bubble will also need to self-isolate if you have symptoms (read the information below for more detail).

The three main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

You must also self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms. This means:

  • If someone in your household has tested positive, had an unclear test or has symptoms, you should self-isolate for 14 days from the day they first had symptoms, or from the day they tested positive.
  • OR if you are told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app or by NHS Test and Trace, you should self-isolate for 14 days.

In the above two situations, you do not need to tell your duty porter in college, but you still need to report via duo banner.

When can you stop self-isolating?

After 14 days you can stop self-isolating if you don’t get any symptoms. However, you should keep self-isolating and get a test if you develop symptoms.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means that you cannot leave your household. Do not go to in-person teaching, work, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.

Do not go outside even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home.

You should cancel routine in-person medical appointments – if you are concerned by this please speak to your medical contact first, for example your GP. If you need more urgent medical help please contact NHS 111 in a non-emergency and 999 in an emergency.

If you need to leave your home because you are in danger of domestic abuse, then the self-isolation rules no longer apply. You can find out how to seek help here.

Why should I self-isolate?

Self-isolating in this way will help protect your friends, family, the wider community and the NHS. Doing so is doing your bit to keep as much of everyone’s education, socialising and broader life open for all of us to participate in. But we know it can also be inconvenient, lonely and even confusing. Please make sure you reach out for support from support services (links below), the University, friends and family, or us here at your Students’ Union.

Remember that if you fail to self-isolate, you will be in breach of University rules, and could be subject to disciplinary action or fines. It is also a legal requirement that you self-isolate after a positive test, or if you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate. Failure to do so could result in a fine.

What support is available?


If you live in College, you can access food, medicine and essential supplies, and domestic services. Contact your College Student Support Officer to get information about these. You also have access to your College Student Support staff and Welfare Officers, for pastoral support and guidance.

Livers Out

You can still access support from your College Student Support staff and Welfare Officers if you’re struggling whilst self-isolating.

If you don't have anyone to pick up medication, please contact your local pharmacist. You can find a pharmacist here.

In terms of accessing food whilst you’re in self-isolation, you can book home delivery slots with lots of supermarkets. We have heard reports that there may be long waiting lists for delivery slots. In this case, have a look at the other suggestions below. Some supermarkets are still offering food boxes for everyday essentials. This article has details on each supermarket’s current home delivery offer, including where you can get essentials boxes.

Another option is to ask a friend to get you some essentials whilst they are out shopping. Many supermarkets offer pre-paid cards that can help a friend pay for your shopping without you having to exchange money. 

Morrisons have a Doorstep Delivery service for those who are self-isolating. Just ring 0345 611 6111 (selecting option 5). You will be expected to have a shopping list of Morrisons items ready (go on the Morrisons website to choose) and orders are dispatched with next day delivery, subject to £2 delivery charge.

You can also order many of Morrison’s food products have via Amazon Prime.

What do I do if my mental health or studies are affected?

If you are struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation that are affecting your mental health, please make sure that you speak to your GP by booking a telephone appointment. Alternatively, you can self-refer to the University Counselling Service using the following email address

Remember that just like with your physical health, you have rights and support available to you if feel your mental health is having an impact on your studies. You can find more information here or get in touch with an adviser here to find out what options are available.

I need further support. Where can I go?

If you need any further support that isn't listed here, you can contact the Durham County Together community hub by calling 03000 260 260.

You can also check out the following links for more information or support:

Page last updated: 06/05/21