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Coronavirus Q&A guidance: what you need to know

Updated: 06/03/2020

Updated: April 3rd 2020. Please see our Q&A covering a range of questions about the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Coronavirus Q&A guidance: what you need to know

Good hygiene practices can help provide protection against the Coronavirus (Covid-19). Credit: Image used under licence from Shutterstock.com.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a new virus that has not been seen in humans before, so there is currently no vaccination.

It causes flu-like symptoms including a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath. But these symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have the illness.

For most people, this is a mild illness that passes. For some, such as people with other health conditions or the elderly, it can be more serious.

How do I protect myself? 

Please be kind. Be safe. Be smart. Follow official advice - which is to stay home, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Is the College open?

All students and staff are studying and working remotely from home, following the latest government advice. Students and staff should not attend the College. 

All college buildings are closed except for City Campus nursery, which is currently supporting some children of frontline workers.

I am having problems accessing financial support - what should I do?

If you are eligible for financial support from the College and have any questions or concerns about accessing that, then please email us on financial-support@sheffcol.ac.uk.

I have a safeguarding concern - what should I do?

If you have a safeguarding concern, please email us immediately on safeguarding@sheffcol.ac.uk.

What will happen to exams?

All academic and vocational exams have been cancelled until further notice.

It's really important that students continue with their studies, coursework and in-year assessments whilst we wait for more information on exams.

We are seeking further guidance from the government on vocational, and other qualifications, and will provide that as soon as we can.

For information from Ofqual, the exam and qualifications regulatory body, on GCSEs, A Levels and the EPQ, please click here.

I'm applying for a course in September 2020 - what happens next?

We have been contacting applicants for September 2020. The College is committed to ensuring that applicants are not adversely affected, especially students who were due to take exams this summer.

If you have already attended an interview, then you will have an offer or have been provided with further advice and guidance. If you have not yet had an interview, then we will automatically be making course offers based on your predicted grades. 

If you've not already applied, then please click here to find out more. Email admissions@sheffcol.ac.uk or call 0114 2602600.

I am an employer - what should I do about my apprentices?

We are working hard to support employers and ensure that our apprentices can continue their training wherever possible via online learning and one-to-one tutoring via online channels such as Skype.

We have written to employers this week to confirm the current government guidance.

Employers can access the Chancellor's support for businesses, such as the Job Retention Scheme, to retain staff including apprentices. For more information, please click here.

The government has introduced some temporary flexibilities that will enable apprentices to continue their learning or take a break and resume it at a later date.

These flexibilities also extend to some arrangements regarding end point assessments.

We want to support you as best we can during this challenging time. Please email employer@sheffcol.ac.uk if you have any queries or concerns.

How long is this situation likely to go on for?

These arrangements will be in place until further notice. The College is continuing to closely monitoring the situation.

We will keep you updated and review our decisions based on the latest guidance from Public Health England and the Department for Education.

What action has the College been taking in response to the situation?

The College has been treating this situation as a major incident and activated a Covid-19 incident management team at the beginning of the pandemic.

The team comprises members of the Executive Leadership Team and staff from all parts of the organisation including communications, curriculum, estates, exams, health and safety, human resources, IT and student support services.

The group is now meeting remotely as it continues to plan and coordinate the College's response to the pandemic.

What should I do if I have suspected Coronavirus symptoms? 

  • If you develop suspected symptoms, such as a continuous cough and a high temperature, you should stay at home and self isolate for seven days. 
  • If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
  • Do not go to a pharmacy, GP surgery or hospital.
  • Only use the NHS 111 online service if symptoms become difficult to cope with, get worse or do not go after seven days. Visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
  • The NHS 111 telephone service is still available for those people who are not online. Only call 111 if you cannot get help via the online service.
  • In an emergency (life threatening) situation, dial 999.

What does self isolate mean?

  • Stay at home; don’t leave the house.
  • Ask friends and family to deliver food but avoid contact with them.
  • Try to stay away from older people and those with long term health problems.
  • Try to keep at least three steps away from other people in your home.
  • Keep hydrated with water.

Advice and help:                        

  • NHS 111 is available 24 hours, seven days a week. Use the NHS 111 online service if symptoms become difficult to cope with, get worse or do not go after seven days. Visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
  • Only call NHS 111 if you cannot get help via the online service.
  • If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, call 18001 111 on a textphone or use the NHS 111 British Sign Language interpreter service here: https://interpreternow.co.uk/nhs111
  • In an emergency (life threatening) situation, dial 999.

Mental health information and support:

Where can I find more information? 

NHS health advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Department for Education: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced 

Department for Education Coronavirus Helpline: Telephone 0800 046 8687. Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

Notes: The helpline is open from 8am until 6pm on weekdays, and is available to students, staff and parents and carers who have questions about Covid-19 relating to education.