Coronavirus latest


28 April 2020

a student washing their hands

Your health and safety is our number one priority and we’re continuing to closely monitor the situation.

The impact of Coronavirus is unprecedented across the UK and abroad. It’s important we work together to help stop it spreading. Please read our guidance below. 

Our priority is your safety and the safety of our staff. We’re constantly monitoring government advice and making changes to our service to reflect the measures.

You probably have a lot of questions at this time. Please see our FAQs below. This will be updated regularly. If you have further questions, please get in touch by emailing us.


Are students self-isolating in your accommodation?

PHE guidance is you should self-isolate if you have symptoms of coronavirus, however mild.  Everyone should follow the same standard advice to prevent the spread of this illness.  

Given this, we anticipate that there will be students who are self isolating in our accommodation.  

Our main concern is the wellbeing of those affected and ensuring that they receive appropriate support.  We will maintain confidentiality, but will also ensure that you are given the appropriate information and advice to manage risks.

How does it spread? How can I protect myself and others?

How does it spread?

Because the coronavirus is a new illness, we don’t know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread via droplets from coughing or sneezing.

These droplets fall on people in the vicinity and can be directly inhaled or picked up on the hands and transferred when someone touches their face.  

It can take up to 14 days between being exposed to the virus and developing symptoms.

How can I protect myself and others?

The NHS has issued the following advice on the best way to slow the spread of almost any germs, including coronavirus.

Good hygiene practices are key. 
  • Avoid touching your eye, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose of used tissues in a bin.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (NSH advice is for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice) or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Ensure that you cover all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are unwell (2 metres/ 6ft distance).
Please ensure that you are registered with a local NHS GP surgery.

What does self-isolation mean? What do I need to do if I need to self isolate?

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means you should remain at home and don’t go outside or travel.  It’s important that you avoid close contact with others. 

PHE have issued the following guidance on self-isolation which provides helpful advice on both if you should self-isolate and how to do this safely to reduce the risk of virus being spread.

How long should I self-isolate for?

Official sources such as the Government, PHE and the NHS are updating health advice daily.  The most reliable information and guidance on symptoms and measures you can take to protect yourself and other is available on their websites.

View the latest health advice from the NHS.

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you'll usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

You'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you've been told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus

Who should I inform if I am self isolating?

It’s important you let us know so we can help you to take care of your wellbeing, share what we can do for you and those around you. We will maintain confidentiality, but will also ensure that you are given the appropriate information and advice to manage risk.

If I self-isolate, how do I get provisions?

If you require help with preparing meals, buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, please ask friends if they can assist. You’ll need to remind them to leave things outside your room so that you don’t have contact.  Alternatively, you can order medication by phone or online. You can also order your shopping online. Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online. The delivery driver shouldn’t come into your home.

We are asking others on site to volunteer to assist as buddies during this time.  If you have any difficulties with support (your friends may also be self isolating), please contact your local accommodation team.  Where we can, we’ll put you in touch with a volunteer buddy.  If this isn’t possible, we’ll still ensure you’re supported.

The NHS website also provides advice on how to prepare for self-isolation in advance.

How well is Optivo prepared to respond to an outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Like most organisations, we have business continuity and major incident plans.    

In response to Covid-19, we established two internal groups (Strategic and Operational) specifically tasked to manage the impact to our business and residents.  

They work collaboratively on our business response to the measures introduced by government as they’re announced.  This translates to local management plans which focusses on maintaining services and keeping our residents safe.

I’m a parent who is worried, what can I do?

Stay in touch with them if you can.  Information and advice is available on these pages and government sites such as NHS and PHE.  Encourage them to familiarise themselves with official guidance.

Everyone should follow the same standard NHS guidance to prevent the spread of colds and flu: wash your hands often with soap, and cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of this into a bin as quickly as possible.  Please encourage them to follow this advice – it’s the best defence against infection with coronavirus.

I’m struggling to pay my rent installment - what can I do?

We understand that this is a challenging time and that you may be financially impacted.  If you are struggling to make payment on your rent instalment, please contact us.  

We may be able to agree a flexible payment plan or review other options.

I'm concerned about another student living with me

Where possible, suggest to them they contact their GP via phone or use NHS 111 online

The local accommodation team are also available if you would like to pass on your concerns for us to follow up with them directly.

I share accommodation with someone self-isolating - what advice is there?

PHE have issued the following guidance on self-isolation which provides helpful advice for both the person self isolating and how to do this safely to reduce the risk of virus being spread.

In situations where someone you are sharing accommodation with is self-isolating, we are required to maintain strict confidentiality so won’t be able to provide you with specific details on their situation.  However, we do have plans in place to manage self-isolation in our accommodation.

These measures include enabling students to carry out their self-isolation in their ensuite rooms.  For students who live in standard rooms, designated facilities will be identified for their sole use.  This may mean you might be asked to use a different bath/shower room or W/C than you usually access.

As it’s more difficult to limit kitchen access, we are asking that different meal arrangements are made during self-isolation, with food being prepared on behalf of the person affected.  If you think you can help with this, please see our section on being a buddy.

There may be some circumstances where we are able to offer relocation (for you or the student self isolating) to another area.  We are conscious of individual situations, especially where someone may be vulnerable due to an underlying health condition.  

If you are concerned, please contact your local accommodation team.

Has your university moved to online learning?

We have received a number of enquiries from new and existing customers regarding their tenancy status and rent payments.

We're in the process of reviewing recent government advice regarding this matter and will provide further guidance on our website when we're in a position to do so. If you have any concerns regarding paying your rent please talk to one of the team. 

Should face masks be worn?

In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • public transport
  • indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • indoor shopping centres
  • banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.

For members of the public, from 8 August the places where you will have to wear a face covering will be expanded to include:

  • funeral directors
  • premises providing professional, legal or financial services
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • bingo halls
  • concert halls
  • museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  • nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers - other than where necessary to remove for treatments
  • massage parlours
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • place of worship
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • community centres
  • social clubs
  • tattoo and piercing parlours
  • indoor entertainment venues (amusement arcades, funfairs, adventure activities e.g. laser quest, go-karting, escape rooms, heritage sites etc)
  • storage and distribution facilities
  • veterinary services.
  • auction houses

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. 

What support is available if you’re feeling anxious about coronavirus?

We understand that the current coronavirus health news may be affecting your mental health and wellbeing.

Students Minds has created guidance and information to help you look after yourself and your loved ones during this time.

There are a number of other organisations who have published guidance on mental health considerations relating to the coronavirus outbreak, including:

Support is also available from your University’s Student Support Services.  Please visit your University’s website for further details.

Please don’t suffer in silence – we know this is difficult time for many people.

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A coronavirus is a type of virus.  

As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that can affect your lungs and airways.

What are the symptons?

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include a new continuous cough OR fever OR loss of/ change in smell or taste.
Generally, the coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.  Those who are pregnant are also included in this category.  Otherwise healthy young adults are much less likely to develop serious illness.

For the latest information on coronavirus and its symptoms, visit the NHS website.

What conditions increase the risk of serious illness?

As with flu, it can affect people differently.  Some people have other conditions which make them more at risk.  Those with an increased risk are:
  • Older people
  • Those who are pregnant
  • Those with underlying health conditions 

Check the NHS website for the latest information on coronavirus and underlying health conditions for a full list.

Is there a treatment for Coronavirus?

There is currently no specific treatment for the coronavirus.  

Antibiotics don’t help, as they don’t work against viruses.  Medical treatment available aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.  

It’s important that the person affected stays in isolation away from other people until they have recovered.


Where can I find more official information?

Where can I find up to date health advice?

Official sources such as the Government, PHE and the NHS are updating health advice daily.  The most reliable information and guidance on symptoms and measures you can take to protect yourself and other is available on their websites.

View the latest health advice from the NHS.

You are advised to self-isolate if you have either:
  • A high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or 
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.

They have also stated the following:
  • Don’t go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
  • You don’t need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home
  • Testing for coronavirus isn’t needed if you're staying at home

For urgent advice, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if: 
  • You feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition gets worse
  • Your symptoms don’t get better after 7 days
  • Only call 111 if you can’t get help on line

Why are you asking if I'm self isolating, shielding or have underlying health conditions?

We’re asking for this information to enable us to protect your safety and the safety of those around you, including our staff.  We’ll store the information you provide securely and only keep it for as long as necessary.  The data will be deleted from our systems when we no longer require it.  We’ll only share this information with other organisations if strictly necessary to enable us to support you in your residence.  For further information on how Optivo processes your personal information please see our Privacy Notice.

Will the accommodation site remain open?

Yes, we would like to reassure you that will remain open during this period.  Following PHE guidance though, there’ll be some adjustments we’ll need to make to how we deliver our offering.  This is in line with new advice on ‘social distancing’ to help avoid spreading and catching coronavirus.  

Being a responsible provider, we are undertaking the following:
  • We are committed to ensuring that our accommodation receptions remain open with no change to our hours. 
  • We will be operating with one team member on site only.  There may be a delay in, or reduction to, our services here.  If you need to contact the accommodation reception please find your site email address and phone number.  We have a dedicated team working off site who can provide you with support on your enquiry. 
  • If you need to contact us to report a maintenance repair, you can do this by contacting your site team.  We will ensure that your request is processed to be fixed.
  • If you are self isolating, only emergency works will be completed
  • Our cleaning teams are working hard to ensure our high hygiene standards are maintained across our accommodation. 
  • If you are self isolating, we are unable to clean your immediate area. However, we’ll ensure that a deep clean in line with PHE advice is undertaken once you have completed your self-isolation.
  • Our event and activities programme will be suspended.  We will restart this when PHE advises that it is safe to do so.

Our accommodation teams are working hard to ensure that you continue to receive a positive experience from us.  Thank you for your understanding and patience during this time.

Site contact details

Goldsmiths House  020 803 60060
Helen Graham House  020 803 60033
Ivy Hall  020 803 60066
Lucia Foster Welch  020 803 60019
Usher Hall  020 803 60006
Park House  020 803 60064
Platt and Writtle House  020 803 60065
Welkin  020 803 60062
Wood Green Hall  020 803 60061

Government advice

You'll find useful information on this web page. This information changes frequently. We advise you keep a close eye on the page for up-to-date information.

Protect yourself and others

There are simple things you can do to prevent germs spreading:

  • Ensure you keep a distance of six feet (two metres) between yourself and others at all times
  • Avoid any large or small gatherings
  • Phone, text, email, video call or instant chat with friends rather than speaking to them face to face
  • Wash your hands more often – with soap and water – for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin immediately and wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Are you self-isolating?

It is vital you call the team at your accommodation to let them know so we can ensure the safety of our staff and other students.

Here are the phone numbers for each site:

Goldsmiths House  020 803 60060
Helen Graham House  020 803 60033
Ivy Hall  020 803 60066
Lucia Foster Welch  020 803 60019
Usher Hall  020 803 60006
Park House  020 803 60064
Platt and Writtle House  020 803 60065
Welkin  020 803 60062
Wood Green Hall  020 803 60061

Impact to Optivo Students

We’ll continue to keep you updated here on our website. We appreciate your patience and understanding at this difficult time.