‘It’s worse than prison’: Living with university lockdowns

Athena Lamnisos: ‘It does not sit well with me’

Athena Lamnisos, from west London, has followed the chaotic university lockdowns with a mounting sense of dread. Her 20-year-old daughter, Ellie, is due to begin her third year at Nottingham Trent University, where she will live in a house with eight others, this week. 

She worries that one of Ellie’s housemates will host a party against her wishes, and thinks there is a reasonable chance that somebody in the house develops symptoms.

“It’s a big house, there’s a lot of variables,” she says. “Many of them have got relationships, so sticking to the ‘rule of six’ is going to be challenging. If they do end up locked in a house for weeks, that’s not great for their mental health.

“It wouldn’t have been so bad if she’d gone back to university a couple of weeks ago, but it feels particularly harsh for us this week given what we saw in the weekend’s news.”

Most of the focus so far has been on university-owned halls of residence, but Ms Lamnisos fears a lockdown might actually be worse in a privately-rented house, where Ellie will have little help from the university.

Most worrying of all, she says, is the possibility that her daughter will not be allowed to come home at Christmas, adding: “It does not sit well with me.”

Joe Wilson: ‘In prison, you’re allowed to go outside’

“It’s worse than prison,” says Joe Wilson, 18, who is locked down in his student halls in Dundee. “In prison, you’re allowed to go outside.”

He is one of 500 students stuck inside Parker House, a private halls of residence, after one resident tested positive for coronavirus. They are subject to some of the strictest regulations in the UK.

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