Guidance for dental students on travel and clinical placements
The Dental Schools Council (DSC) is aware that the issue of student travel has been raised across the UK. To support dental students to decide when and how to travel we have produced this guidance for you.
Dental students are essential workers (except in Northern Ireland)
The key information you should be aware of is that in Scotland, Wales and England, healthcare students are deemed to be essential workers. This means you can travel to and from your clinical placements just as any other healthcare worker can. You will also have been provided with PPE whilst on placement which reduces the chance that you will catch or transmit COVID 19.
Some students will be undertaking placements that are some distance away from their base at university. The distance students need to travel varies across the country and some of you will be staying in accommodation at remote sites to facilitate your attendance at these placements. Dental schools understand that this is a difficult situation and that students may wish to return to their base at university when they are not timetabled to be on placements to access support from family and friends.
The key priority for dental schools, and students themselves, is to keep placements open and available as learning opportunities and in due course for students to progress and graduate. As students classed as essential workers it may be possible for them to return to their fixed, term time address when not on placement. However, this is dependent on local and national policies and you should follow the guidelines set by your dental school.
Travelling to visit friends and family
When travelling to and from your term time address you will be aware that social distancing and travel restrictions vary across the UK and you must follow the guidance being applied where you live.
Travelling home once term ends
You will be aware that governments across the UK are putting in place plans to facilitate the safe return of students to their family and friends once term ends. You must comply with whatever guidance is in place in the part of the UK where you live.
If you are undertaking clinical placements at the end of term then you will still be able to complete these placements and return home if you are well. UK Governments have put in exemptions for healthcare students in terms of their policies around students returning home after 9 December.
DSC has noted the recent guidance issued by the Department for Education in England on students returning for the winter break and has discussed this internally and with DfE. Students are able to complete their placements where schools have deemed that it is essential, for example where placement students are being asked to assist in forthcoming vaccination programmes or where a failure to complete the placement would have future workforce implications. It has therefore been agreed that if local arrangements permit it, students may stay in placements beyond the 9th December. The Government has also requested that if you are staying past the 9th December that you restrict your social contact for the two additional weeks as far as possible outside of your educational programme.
In Wales, students are also permitted to complete clinical activity with patients, and other in-person activities.
Your dental school and university will be in touch to provide you with further advice as to how they will operationalise the applicable government guidance.