Self-isolating students at Royal College of Music given instruments to pass fortnight trapped in halls

By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter

Students who were quarantined in their halls of residence were given musical instruments by their university to help the two weeks go by.

Fifty students self-isolated after an outbreak at the Royal College of Music’s halls in Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith, which was the first reported outbreak at a London university.

But if one person tested positive out of a flat of six or eight, it meant the whole flat had to quarantine.

Students said there had been “two or three days” of freshers partying at the blocks in September, before staff issued warnings against people meeting in groups of more than six.

The free instruments were organised with the help of fourth-year student rep, Aidan Chan.

Mr Chan, a fourth year piano student, said: “The university had 20 new keyboards and we decided to hand them out to people who needed to self-isolate.

“And for the first few days there were 10 upright pianos given out.”

“There’s about 450 students here but I’m not sure how many are now self-isolating. It’s looking a lot better than last week.”

A 34-year-old PHD student who was renting a studio flat in the halls, and who wished to be anonymous, said: “I’ve not heard any partying for about 10 days but there was for a few days. But they sent round a strict email. After that people stopped. It was very reassuring.”

Another student, Raphael Ruiz, said: “Last Thursday they set up a test centre in the car park and tested people with symptoms on one day, and everyone who didn’t have symptoms on Friday. I got my results in 24 hours. It was negative.”

A young woman who asked not to be named said: “Me and my housemates were let out today for the first time in two weeks.

“We’re all first-years and we didn’t know each other before. It felt inevitable something like this would happen but we’re okay. They brought us deliveries of food and everything.”

Kiok Son, 25, a fresher from South Korea, said: “The situation has meant we’ve not been able to meet people, which has not been good.”

Theodore Baujard, a second-year cello student from France, said: “I am in a studio flat.

“I have friends here but everyone has seen each other a lot less because of this.

“It has been sad. I go to college less often and most of my courses are online.

“There were a lot of gatherings when I arrived last month but it disappeared after a few days.”

The Royal College of Music said it did not wish to comment, but a spokesman last week said students were being “fully supported” and that staff were working with Public Health England to contain the virus.

The university has its main campus opposite the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, and its alumni includes Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Pictured top: Student Kiok Son


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