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Coronavirus FAQs: Keeping safe at college

Updated: 10.09.20

Coronavirus FAQs: Keeping safe at college

Updated: April 15th, 2021.

Our frequently asked questions page provides information about the College’s latest safety measures to help keep students and staff Covid-19 secure.

Please keep checking this page, which will be reviewed and updated in line with public health guidance.

1. What is Coronavirus?

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

2. What are the symptoms?

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of the following symptoms:

  • New, continuous cough
  • Fever, a high temperature of 37.8°C or above
  • Loss or change to smell or taste.

For some people, coronavirus is a mild illness that passes. For others, such as those with underlying health conditions, it can be more serious.

Please report any symptoms of coronavirus to the College at the earliest opportunity.

3. Have there been any confirmed Covid-19 cases at the College?

  • From September 14th, 2020 until April 8th, 2021, 225 students have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • From September 14th, 2020 until April 8th, 2021, 51 staff have tested positive for Covid-19.

We are continuing to monitor the situation. Not all of those affected had been on-site at the College. 

We have been working closely with Public Health England, and taken all the necessary actions.

The College has more than 14,000 students a year and approximately 1,320 staff.

4. How do I protect myself and help stop the transmission of the virus? 

Please stay safe and follow public health guidance. Please make sure that you are familiar with the latest restrictions and guidelines so that we can continue to keep our college and wider communities safe. 

Although some restrictions have started to ease, it is still important that we all continue to follow the latest guidelines to help keep everyone safe. For more details, please check the latest government advice - Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do.

The key things to remember are:

  • Hands, face and space - wash your hands regularly and wear a face covering where possible in indoor settings where social distancing is harder.
  • Stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
  • Work from home if you can. Keep travelling, and the number of journeys you make, to a minimum.

For more details, watch our safety video.

  • 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.

5. Is the College open?

The College has been staggering the re-opening of campuses to students since March 9th, 2021 with priority being given to students who must complete practical elements in order to complete their course. 

This staggered approach is helping to ensure that we can manage the number of students on site and re-open safely with all the necessary Covid-19 measures in place.

Following the successful return of students during the last few weeks, we have now started the planning for the next phase after Easter. We will continue to take a blended approach with a mixture of face-to-face and online learning. 

We are working towards at least 50% of learning taking place on campus for the majority of our students from Monday, April 19th, 2021 onwards, reflecting government guidance that 16-18-year-old learners should access campus every week. 

Although all of our campuses are now open, students should only turn up on campus if they have received an email inviting them to do so. The email has guidance on how to book a Covid-19 lateral flow test and details on the college sites where testing is available.

If you are unsure about whether you should be in college, please contact and check with your tutors.

6. Will students need to take Covid-19 tests?

We are encouraging all students coming onto campus to take part in our lateral flow device testing. Students attending campus will be invited to our on-campus testing facilities for their first three tests before being supplied with home testing kits. 

Students should only turn up on campus if they have received an email inviting them to do so. That invite email has guidance on how to book a Covid-19 lateral flow test and details on the college sites where testing is available.

Students will need to take three lateral flow tests at the College before they are supplied with home testing kits. The date of the first test will be the day before students are due to come back onto campus. To find out more, please watch this video that shows how the College testing centres work.

As per government guidance, testing is not mandatory. However, any students who choose to opt-out of the testing process but still come back onto campus are declaring that they are not showing any symptoms of Covid-19 and should not be self-isolating for any reason.

Every step is being taken to ensure that the College remains a safe place to work and learn. As before, we continue to implement a wide range of social distancing measures, following a continued thorough risk assessment. 

In line with government guidance, we will be making face coverings in learning spaces mandatory (except for people who are exempt from wearing them). 

Since the start of the pandemic, we've conducted a full Covid-19 risk assessment and safety measures have been put in place as a result. 

Any decisions we have made and continue to make, put student and staff safety at the heart of them, alongside making sure you receive the very best learning experience possible.

7. How is the College helping students with home testing kits?

Students who have returned to the College and taken three lateral flow tests on campus are now able to start testing themselves at home using the at-home testing kits. The at-home testing kits are free of charge and can be picked up from one of our campuses:       
    •    City Campus - Sports Hall  
    •    Hillsborough Campus - Reception  
    •    Peaks Campus - Reception  
    •    Olive Grove Campus - Reception  
    •    Fir Vale Campus - Reception  
    •    Eyre Street Campus - Reception  

Alternatively, you can order a lateral flow test to your home through the government website.  

You should take two tests per week, with no longer than three to four days between your last test. You should continue to test over the Easter holidays even if you are not planning to be on campus; that way you will be ready to return after a few days off.

For more guidance on testing at home, please visit the government website.

8. What happens if I have a confirmed positive Covid-19 test?

All positive results from rapid lateral flow tests, whether conducted at home or at the College need to be confirmed with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within two days of the positive lateral flow test. A PCR is a test that is sent to a laboratory to determine the result.

You and other members of your household must also self-isolate in line with public health guidance.

All students and their households should report any positive test results by calling 119 or through this online form. Students should also inform the College.

  • Following a positive test at home, a confirmatory PCR test should be booked online here or by calling 119.
  • Whilst awaiting the PCR result, the positive person and their close contacts should self-isolate.
  • If your PCR test result is negative, you do not need to continue to isolate.

For more information, please visit the latest government Coronavirus (COVID-10) asymptomatic testing in schools and colleges guidance

The government has also provided information about testing in its Households and bubbles of pupils, students and staff of schools, nurseries and colleges: get rapid lateral flow tests guidance.

9. How long will I need to self isolate for?

If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days. Anyone you live with will also need to self-isolate at the same time.

You may need to self-isolate for longer if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away. For more details, please read this NHS guidance on self isolation.

10. Are the College nurseries open?

The College’s Hillsborough Nursery at Hillsborough Campus and City Nursery at City Campus are open.

11. Who can students turn to if they are struggling with their mental health?

If you are struggling with your mental health, please contact staff or email safeguarding@sheffcol.ac.uk.

12. How do I find out more about the NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 app?

The free NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 app will help you see if you’re at risk from coronavirus.

The app has a number of tools including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in, and uses technology from Apple and Google. If your postcode district becomes high risk, the app will let you know.

If you come into close contact with another user who reports a positive test result, the app will send you an anonymous alert. It also provides a symptom check and information on booking a coronavirus test.

If you feel comfortable doing so, we would encourage you to download the app. For more information on how to download the app, as well as data protection and privacy, please visit the NHS website.

13. What should I do if I or someone in my household develops symptoms? 

  • If you become unwell with coronavirus symptoms, you should stay at home, self isolate for at least 10 days and get a test as soon as possible - within five days. Please try to maintain social distance, where possible, from other people whom you live with - your household.
  • All members of your household will also need to self isolate to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. Further information is available on the government’s website.

14. Where can I get more help?

  • Use the NHS 111 online service if symptoms become difficult to cope with, get worse or do not go after seven days.
  • The NHS 111 telephone service is available for people who are not online. Only call 111 if you cannot get help via the online service.
  • In an emergency (a life-threatening) situation, dial 999.

15. Does the College have a track and trace procedure in place?

Yes. The Sheffield College Covid-19 Track and Trace Policy provides guidance for our staff so they know how to support anyone exhibiting symptoms whilst at the College and take the necessary steps to contact anyone who has come into contact with the person affected on campus.

16. Who should I tell if I have coronavirus symptoms?

  • Students should report symptoms by calling the College’s customer services team on 0114 2602600. They will let your tutor and the Health and Safety Manager know.
  • Once you have had a coronavirus test, please contact your tutor to let them know the result. When you are well, and no longer have symptoms, please let your tutor that you are returning to College to study.
  • Parents and carers of nursery children should inform the nursery of their child’s sickness and coronavirus test results and when their child is well, no longer has symptoms and are returning to nursery.
  • Any contractors and visitors, who develop symptoms and have been on our premises during the seven days prior to that, must report this to the College by calling 0114 2602600.

17. What safety measures are in place for students and staff at the College?

We are doing everything we can to support you and your future career ambitions whilst keeping you, our staff and the wider community safe. Since the start of the pandemic, we've conducted a full Covid-19 risk assessment and safety measures have been put in place as a result. 

Every step has been taken to ensure that when students are able to attend college for campus classes, they can do safely based on a thorough and ongoing Covid-19 risk assessment.

The safety measures include cleaning, handwashing, hygiene and social distancing procedures. All steps are being taken to implement social distancing. Where students and staff cannot be two metres apart, we have done everything practical to reduce the possibility of transmission. Please see more details below:

  • Timetables have been planned to ensure that students are on campus for the necessary time only.
  • Students will stay within an allocated zone and be expected to leave college immediately after their classes or work day has finished.
  • These steps mean that we can manage the number of learners on-site at any point in the day and avoid large gatherings outside of classrooms, for example, by the lift areas and in the refectories.
  • Campuses have marked specific entry and exit points. One-way systems have been introduced, marked with signs.
  • Face coverings must be worn in learning and communal areas (except for people who are exempt from wearing them). 
  • Students and staff coming onto campus will be encouraged to take part in our lateral flow testing.
  • Students attending campus will be invited to our on-campus testing facilities for their first three tests before being supplied with home testing kits. 
  • Classrooms will be opened in advance to avoid unnecessary queuing or gathering.
  • Hand sanitiser dispensers are in receptions, classrooms and refectory areas.
  • Communal areas and classrooms are being cleaned before each teaching session and regularly throughout the day.
  • Floors and surfaces are regularly being cleaned, and bins emptied. In classrooms, specialist wipes will be available to clean IT equipment.
  • Lifts are restricted to one person at a time. Priority is given to those who have limited mobility. Students are encouraged to use the stairs, where possible. 
  • Toilets are restricted to one person at a time.

We are continuing to assess the situation and review our plans and safety steps, according to the latest government guidance.

18. What is happening to exams?

Students are being urged to attend all of their lessons and complete all assignments to ensure their grade outcome matches the hard work they have put in so far.  For more information on exams and teacher-assessed grades for this academic year, please visit our Exams 2021: FAQs.

19. How is teaching and learning being delivered in 2020/21?

Every step is being taken to ensure that our campuses are as safe as possible, based on a thorough college-wide risk assessment. Consequently, things have been different during this academic year 2020/21.

Since September 2020 onwards, to help keep everyone safe, there have been fewer face-to-face and more online learning sessions in addition to independent study, including virtual learning.

Our programmes have had some lessons on college campuses, to ensure that you have met your teachers and the other students in your group and to help you feel part of our vibrant college community.

During the first term, from September to December 2020, the majority of our programmes have been based on blended learning to ensure that we provide a safe environment. This means that - with the exception of the national lockdown when we moved fully online and remotely - our teaching has been a combination of three approaches: 

  1. Face-to-face lessons on campus
  2. Face-to-face lessons delivered remotely, for example, using a video chat function
  3. Self-directed, independent study and learning

The balance has depended on the subject that you study. For example, programmes with a higher level of technical skills such a construction trade, dentistry, hair and beauty, and performing arts, will require more face-to-face learning sessions to develop those skills.

Programmes of study that are more knowledge-based, such as A Levels, will have more face-to-face online learning sessions and independent study. We will continue to review the College’s next steps in line with public health guidance, and keep you updated on any changes to the way that we plan to deliver learning.

Other aspects of what we do will be provided using these different approaches. For example, tutorial support has been provided online during the first term. In terms of work related experience and activity, we are currently unable to send students into the workplace for industry placements or industry tasters.

However, it is vital to keep building skills to make you employable. Therefore, we will deliver an employability skills package through face-to-face online learning sessions and virtual content. We are continuing to assess the situation and review our plans and safety steps, according to the latest government guidance.

20. How can I travel to the College safely?

Where possible, we are encouraging students to walk, cycle or drive to our campuses - when we are not in a national lockdown. If this is not possible, and you need to use public transport, please ensure that you follow the latest government guidelines. This includes wearing a face covering and maintaining a safe distance between you and other passengers.

21. 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 financial-support@sheffcol.ac.uk.

22. I have a safeguarding concern - what should I do?

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

23. Where can I get more mental health information and support?

24. Where can I find more general information? 

NHS health advice.

Public Health England.

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

The helpline is for students, staff, and parents and carers, who have questions about Covid-19 relating to education.

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15/04/2021 11:24 am
College re-opening update