Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This page has been set up to provide information for anyone with questions or concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19). It will be updated as necessary.

CONTACTING THE COLLEGE

The College is currently open to limited activity for supporting vulnerable learners in a physical capacity, however you can still reach our team to help with general enquiries, admission queries and careers advice. All details can be found here

APPLICATION UPDATE

We are still accepting and processing applications for Heart of Worcestershire College for September 2020 as usual. For more information please continue to our 'How to apply' page https://www.howcollege.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/

GUIDANCE

We understand that many of our students and staff may have some concerns about the situation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and the changing rules with lockdown.

The health and wellbeing of our college community is of utmost importance and our Senior Leadership Team is meeting regularly to ensure we have the most up-to-date information to share with our staff and students and to take appropriate action as required.

We have established this webpage as the key platform where all accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus outbreak will be posted. You can find an easy read version on how to stay safe here

UPDATES ISSUED TO STAFF AND STUDENTS

Any updates will be issued via our official college social media accounts and the College website. Updates will also be published via the student and staff portal. Students should also regularly check both their college and personal email accounts.

GOVERNMENT ADVICE

The government will continue to monitor the spread of coronavirus and take further action as needed. You can find the latest information and advice on coronavirus and the latest guidance for educational settings on the GOV.UK website.

SEPTEMBER 2020

We are busy preparing for the new year start in September 2020. Please be assured that everything we are working on now is to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff which is our top priority, whilst also managing new ways of working so that you can start or continue your course with us in September. We will post further updates about this and communicate directly with those who have already applied, accepted or been invited to interview.

If you require any support at all with what your options are and you are still not sure what to do in September please contact us here

Covid-19 Return to Studies Academic Year 2020/21 Guide for HE students 

What action is Heart of Worcestershire College taking?

We are following Public Health England advice and guidance and will ensure that we communicate regularly with our staff and students, parents and guardians and the general public via this website and other means of communication.

The College’s Emergency Response Team is meeting frequency to ensure we have the most up-to-date information and that risk is continually assessed to enable us to update staff and students and to take any appropriate action if required.

We continue to follow government guidance. In the event of a change to this guidance we continue to review our approach. 

We do however want to take this opportunity to also reassure our students and staff that lots of our teams are working away in the background to prepare for a return by staff and students to ensure we provide everyone with a safe working environment.

Will the College be COVID-19 secure?

We have implemented a range of preventive measures and controls to ensure we that are COVID secure. These include:

Building Bubbles - limiting movement between buildings and groups where possible

Classroom adaptations - including rearranging layouts to allow more space for appropriate distancing and the installation of screens where necessary

Protective screening - Plexiglass protective screening has been installed for high footfall areas including cafeterias, learning centres and receptions. We have also purchased additional portable ‘sneeze’ screens.

Hand sanitizing - We have purchased highly visible hand sanitiser stations that will be placed in key areas. We will be actively promoting the following to all staff, students and visitors.
• Clean your hands thoroughly, more often than usual.
• Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

Cleaning Schedule - The College will have an enhanced contract cleaning schedule in place to include increased cleaning of touch points such as doors, push plates and handrails. In addition, our staff will be using a range of other measures such as fogging machines, antibacterial wipes and other cleaning materials.

Social distancing - Social distancing will be promoted and maintained where possible between people, reducing the amount of time they are in face to face contact to lower the risk of transmission. There will be clear signage indicating entrance and exits to be used and one way systems will be in place in some buildings.

For a full detailed guide please click here

Will lessons take place online?

Each course will contain an element of remote or online learning. The number of hours will be dependent on which vocational area you are studying. You will receive more information from your curriculum area at induction

Do you require students and staff to wear masks?

We do not require students or staff to wear masks within college, but if wearing one would make you feel more comfortable we are happy for you to do so.

We will be strictly enforcing the 2 metre social distancing rules and have multiple hand sanitisers around site, as well as hand washing facilities.

As per current government guidelines, face coverings are required on public transport including our inter-campus bus service, and in our cafeterias, and you will not be able to access these services if you do not wear an appropriate face covering.

Staff and students using face coverings should ensure these are appropriately worn, cleaned, stored or disposed of correctly. Bins will be provided in College.

 

I am worried about coming back to College.

It is natural to be concerned about coming back in, after such a long time. We will do everything we can to help and reassure you, and your parents/carers, that we are managing everything safely to minimise any risks.

We have implemented a number of Covid safety measures to make our sites as safe as possible these include:

Building Bubbles - limiting movement between buildings and groups where possible

Classroom adaptations - including rearranging layouts to allow more space for appropriate distancing and the installation of screens where necessary

Protective screening - Plexiglass protective screening has been installed for high footfall areas including cafeterias, learning centres and receptions. We have also purchased additional portable ‘sneeze’ screens.

Hand sanitizing - We have purchased highly visible hand sanitiser stations that will be placed in key areas. We will be actively promoting the following to all staff, students and visitors.
• Clean your hands thoroughly, more often than usual.
• Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

Cleaning Schedule - The College will have an enhanced contract cleaning schedule in place to include increased cleaning of touch points such as doors, push plates and handrails. In addition, our staff will be using a range of other measures such as fogging machines, antibacterial wipes and other cleaning materials.

I use the public transport / College buses to reach College, are they re-starting?

We will be running a limited bus service between Bromsgrove and Redditch campuses, but please note that social distancing arrangements will always be in place which means not as many people will be allowed on the bus. Please note that face coverings must also be worn at all times on our intercampus bus service between Redditch and Bromsgrove campus. Students using face coverings should ensure these are appropriately worn, cleaned, stored or disposed of correctly. Bins will be provided in College.

To avoid busy periods please make use of the earlier bus options as an alternative to waiting too long. Seats may be marked as not in use to keep to social distancing rules.

 

Will the College cafes be open?

The College cafeteria facilities will become take-away only from the start of the academic year. To adhere to Government Guidelines all customers will be expected to wear a face covering for the duration of time that they are in the cafeteria area.

Staff and students will be asked to use the cafeteria that is located closest to their work area and not to move between sites or buildings wherever possible.

There may be occasions where students are allowed to eat and drink in their allocated classroom during breaktimes. Where this is allowed students will be required to dispose of all rubbish appropriately and use cleaning materials provided to wipe
their desk area.

Students and staff, who are purchasing items from the cafeterias, are encouraged to use contactless payment. However, we will still accept cash at all sites if needed.

I receive free College meals / bursary what do I do if I am invited in?

We will continue to pay your free meal funding into your bank account. As we are not providing a food service on site, if you are invited in, it will allow you to choose what you want to eat and when.

I have been asked to come into College, but I am ill – what should I do?

Self-isolate if:

 you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)

 you're waiting for a coronavirus test result

 you've tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus

 you live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive

Anyone in England and Wales who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age can get tested.

You can access this via the NHS website here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

If you are due to come into College and you are ill with suspected or confirmed coronavirus or you live with someone who has then you must self-isolate. If this happens to you then please contact us to let us know via this email address: Studentcov19reporting@howcollege.ac.uk

Staff and student remote access information

Information regarding remote access to HoW College systems for both staff and students can be found in the following guides:

Staff Access Guide

Student Access Guide

Staf and students will continue to work remotely as much as possible. Guidance for home working, IT access and risk assessing a homeworking environment are available on the College portal.

Where can I find more information about the GCSE grading system for Summer 2020?

On Friday 3rd April 2020 Ofqual issued further guidance relating to the grading system for GCSEs, AS and A Levels for those students set to take exams in Summer 2020. This information can be found here

This grading system will apply to both Year 11 students and any HoW College students resitting GCSE Maths or English.

 

Further information regarding vocational qualifications can be found here

I’ve applied to study at Heart of Worcestershire College in September. What happens now?

Thank you for applying to study with us, please be assured your offer of place for this September is secure. Following the guidance from Public Health England, we have decided to postpone all face to face interviews and conduct telephone interviews where we can. If you have an interview arranged with us we will be in touch with you shortly either by email, telephone or text message.

As the Government has announced there will be no exams and assessments taking place in schools or colleges this year, please don’t worry as we will still be able to offer you a place at College. We will support you during the enrolment period to ensure we put you on the correct level of your chosen course.

If you require any further help or information you can contact the relevant Admissions team by email:

Redditch and Bromsgrove: admissions@howcollege.ac.uk 

worcester and Malvern: admissions-worcester@howcollege.ac.uk

What if I am feeling unwell?

Currently UK Government advice is that anyone feeling unwell should self-isolate for 10 days. Staff and students should follow our standard absence reporting procedures. Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

 you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home

 your condition gets worse

 your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

What if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus at the College?

Rest assured that a strict protocol is in place for a confirmed case. We have a duty to work closely with the local Health Protection Team under Public Health England where a collaborative risk assessment will be undertaken which will inform all necessary actions.

As a member of staff, can I work remotely?

Staff will be work remotely as much as possible. 

Guidance for home working, IT access and risk assessing a homeworking environment are available on the College portal.

Guides for accessing college systems for both students and staff can be found below

Staff Access Guide

Student Access Guide

Staff Homeworking Guide

 

Where can I find the latest information about coronavirus?

The situation is evolving rapidly. Staff and students are asked to continue to visit and regularly check the following websites for the latest updates and guidance: 

o Public Health England

o Gov.uk website

o Guidance for Educational settings

o Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) office

What can I do to help reduce the spread of this virus?

Just like the common cold, the Coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person who has the infection or by touching contaminated surfaces if you do not wash your hands correctly. There are some simple things that you can do to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and look after yourself and those around you. Here are some guidelines to help you:

 Frequently clean hands by using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. You can see the correct way to clean your hands by clicking HERE.

 Viruses love warm, moist environments so avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

 When coughing and sneezing cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands. ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.

Further advice and guidance can be accessed using the following links:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019:

https://111.nhs.uk/

How is it possible to catch this virus?

COVID-19 is a new virus and, according to the NHS, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person. The most likely means of transmission are droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Infections are generally be spread by:  Secretions from the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (within two metres) or could be inhaled into the lungs.  Touching a surface that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as a door knob or shaking hands then touching own face). It is currently unclear whether people who do not have symptoms are infectious to others, but this is not believed to be a big risk. See above for precautionary measures you can take to help stop the virus from spreading

How do I know if I have got the virus?

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service if you have any of:

  • high temperature
  • new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

111 will tell you what to do and help you get a test if you need one. Use the 111 online coronavirus service

Do I need to self-isolate?

Staying at home if you have symptoms (self-isolation)

If your symptoms are mild you must not to leave your home. This is called self-isolation.

  • Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started.
  • Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person in your home started having symptoms.

Self-isolate if:

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you're waiting for a coronavirus test result
  • you've tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
  • you live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive

There is separate advice if you're told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with a person with coronavirus.

If you're self-isolating, you and anyone you live with must not leave your home.

Don't

  • do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
  • do not go on public transport or use taxis
  • do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
  • do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
  • do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one

What if I have a pre-existing medical condition or am particularly vulnerable?

We understand you may be concerned if you feel you are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others (for example if you have a specific health condition or have vulnerable family members).

Public Health England defines underlying conditions as people with weakened immune systems and those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. If you are worried, members of staff should speak to their GP in the first instance.

We will support you as much as possible, based on any specific advice you have received from medical professionals, as well as general public health guidance. You should continue to follow Public Health England advice about the precautionary measures you can take to avoid catching the virus such as hand-washing (also see the NHS advice page), and ensure you are up to date with any prescriptions for medicines you usually take.

I still have questions, not answered here – what should I do?

We understand that you may have more questions so we ask you to please contact us on this email and we will be back in touch as soon as possible to respond to your questions. Studentcov19enquiries@howcollege.ac.uk