As a student at NSCG, you will have noticed that the college environment is quite different at the moment. You or your parents/guardians may have some questions or concerns, so we've pulled together a list of FAQs to help answer any queries you may have...
How is NSCG mitigating the risks of spreading COVID-19?
Student safety and welfare is our priority. We are following up-to-date Government advice, reviewing and updating our risk assessments on a regular basis and communicating with all stakeholders including students, parents and carers when there are any changes. One of our most important measures is to ensure that students and staff are aware of social distancing and supported to maintain distancing through their actions whilst in the College building. Some of these measures are included in this document, but are not exclusive to it.
You can read our full COVID-19 April 2021 risk assessment on our policies page here.
What prevention measures has the College put into place?
- Minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or who have someone in their household who is, do not attend college.
- Promoting frequent and effective hand hygiene.
- Ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ approach.
- Introducing enhanced cleaning measures, which includes cleaning frequently touched surfaces using standard products such as detergents and bleach.
- Minimising contact between individuals and maintaining social distancing wherever possible.
- Introducing floor markings that denote movement directions and distancing throughout the building. All corridors and stairwells will have a central line marked in the middle of the floor, with supporting directional arrows and a ‘keep left’ strategy adopted. This is in addition to the existing 2m markers which are already in place.
- Creation of a duty staff rota that will support areas, encouraging distancing in communal areas and circulation spaces.
- Wearing of face covering by students and staff in all areas of the College buildings, where social distancing of at least 2m cannot be maintained. This will include the majority of classroom and workroom settings. Face coverings should not be worn when undertaking practical sport or dance activities or where they may conflict with the need to wear other PPE.
- We will also be encouraging all students to take up the offer of free Lateral Flow Testing in College and to be instructed in how to undertake their own home-testing later in the month. All such is optional but encouraged.
You can read our full COVID-19 April 2021 risk assessment on our policies page here.
What is the process the college follows upon receiving a confirmed positive COVID case from a student or member of teaching staff?
Upon receiving a positive COVID-19 result from a student or member of teaching staff, the College follows a prescribed protocol as set out by Public Health England. This involves the senior management team working alongside managers and teaching staff to swiftly identify and manage those who have had contact with the individual in order to intervene and interrupt further transmission. This is achieved by:
- Promptly identifying the contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 from registers, seating plans and direct conversations with the individual who has tested positive.
- Providing contacts with information on self-quarantine, proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette measures, and giving advice on what to do if they develop symptoms.
Contacts are managed on the basis of exposure category, which includes quarantine for those in the group for example, and those outside the group who may have had close contact. We contact Public Health England who advise us accordingly on what steps to take next including quickly informing all parties directly involved either in person or via telephone. This is then followed up promptly with a letter which is also sent to parents/guardians and includes information from Public Health England.
We appreciate that this is a very worrying time. Due to the nature of the situations as they arise, the College has to act quickly and sometimes it is not always possible to talk to parents/guardians immediately about what is going on in detail. As you will appreciate these are challenging times, but we will keep everyone involved and informed as and when we have received the necessary guidance from Public Health England.
How will I find out if there has been a confirmed case in my child's group/course/subject?
We continue to take advice from Public Health England and communicate any information as soon as possible to parents via email, letter and telephone correspondence, in addition to any students and staff who have been directly affected. Students will be instructed to self-isolate for 10 days. Students are not expected to have a test themselves unless they develop symptoms. Teaching staff will conduct ‘live’ lessons throughout this period via our online platform.
How is the College kept clean?
All our classrooms are cleaned regularly and regular touch points are cleaned throughout the day. When we receive confirmation of any positive coronavirus result, we conduct a deep clean of any classrooms that have been accessed.
How will my child be taught if they are not in college?
All lessons for any students affected by self-isolation will be delivered ‘live’, usually via Microsoft Teams. We have checked that all students have access to Teams and they have undertaken sessions from this platform from their home devices over recent weeks to ensure they are confident and clear about delivery using this method. We have also checked that all students have a device to enable them to access their home learning sessions. If your circumstances have recently changed and this is no longer the case, please contact your child’s personal tutor immediately so that we can look at options to help support your child.
How will I know if my child is taking part in the 'live' lessons?
Teachers will take a register as they normally would and non-attendance will be reported to the relevant staff in college and to home. Parents will also receive a text message at the end of each day detailing any classes missed.
Why isn't the college closing?
The advice from the Government and Public Health England is to keep the College open, adhering to all of the systems and protocols of control in place such as hand washing, good respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning and protected bubbles. We will also continue to ask all students and staff inside college to wear a face covering in areas of the College where social distancing of at least 2m cannot be maintained. This will include the majority of classroom and workshop settings. Face coverings should not be worn when undertaking when undertaking practical sport or dance activities or where they may conflict with the need to wear other PPE.
How do I know if my child came into contact with the infected person?
We keep a register of all classes along with detailed seating plans. We make contact with the affected student to ask who they have had contact with at lunch/breaktime/on the way to college in accordance with advice from Public Health England. We then make direct contact with those affected by telephone call to inform them of their next steps. We then follow this up with a letter confirming all of the details. Public Health England also have the information regarding which individuals have been affected.
Do other members of the household also need to self-isolate?
No, the advice to self-isolate from Public Health England is only for those directly impacted. The letter that is sent out to parents/students also contains information direct from Public Health England, therefore, the information is from the Government and is the most current advice. Obviously, if you develop symptoms, then you should self-isolate along with your household.
Is it safe for other courses/groups/subjects to go to college?
In accordance with guidance from Public Health England, it is only necessary for the person infected and those who have had close contact to self-isolate at home. There is no reason at this stage to suggest any other groups/bubbles are affected. Due to the clear systems in place, we have been able to quickly identify those who come into contact with any infected individual. We will of course remain vigilant. We take all of our advice from Public Health England.
If the individuals that have been asked to self-isolate get tested and it comes back negative, are they allowed back into college before the 10 days is up?
The advice is that people who have been asked to self-isolate must do so for the required time despite receiving a negative test result. People should only be tested if they have any of the 3 symptoms linked to COVID 19.
My child is in a different bubble/course/group and I want to keep my child at home. Can I do this?
We understand your concerns and we wouldn't open the College if we didn't feel that the situation was under control. We have followed the Government advice which is that only students who have been in contact/in the same group should self-isolate. All the individuals self-isolating are doing so as a precaution. We understand that those of you with vulnerable households will be more concerned; the risk hasn't changed, but we are aware that it will have heightened concerns and worries. It is also important to recognise the Government advice that all students should return to college and continue their education, to allow them to progress with their studies.
My child is feeling unwell at home but hasn't been told to self-isolate. What should I do?
If your son/daughter is exhibiting COVID-19 related symptoms, you MUST NOT send them to college and you should inform us via the student absence line. You must also follow the Public Health England guidance and arrange to have your son/daughter tested. We have a link on our website to help you.
If your child has a general illness, you should still inform us via the student absence line. If you feel that your son/daughter may be anxious rather than ill, please contact us so that we can put in place additional support for your child.
Is there anything to be done differently by the college going forward or to consider for us as individuals to prevent any more confirmed positive cases?
We feel everything that can be done is being done, whilst trying to run a college with some degree of normality. The challenge for everyone is to follow the guidelines both inside and outside of college and try to avoid bringing the virus into the College. We will always aim to inform parents, carers and students as quickly as possible of cases or changes to our procedures. It is also important that students respect and adhere to the same rules when they are outside of college, in the town centre and whilst on public transport. We will continue to work within the guidelines and advice given to us by the Government.
How is the college implementing good hand hygiene?
Good hand hygiene is critical to ensure we minimise the risk within our college community. There will be hand sanitiser points available throughout the College building and in every classroom, as well as sanitising wipes. Students will be encouraged to wash their hands and use the hand sanitiser provided in classrooms as well as when they enter and exit any of the College’s buildings.
What is the policy on face coverings for students?
- In line with government guidelines face coverings are mandatory in all areas where staff and students cannot maintain a 2m social distance from each other at both our Newcastle College and Stafford College campuses (unless they are exempt for medical reasons). This policy will remain in place until the Easter vacation at which point it will be reviewed by the Department for Education and Public Health England.
- Some curriculum activities involving physical activity e.g. practical sports sessions or dance classes do not require face coverings, whilst in other practical workshops face coverings may conflict with the requirements to wear other personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating machinery. Your son/daughter will be informed where and when this is the case.
- To support with the compliance of this measure, the College have a supply of disposable masks available for anyone who has not brought their own mask with them, but obviously we prefer students to take their own responsibility and bring a suitable face covering to college with them. Any students or staff that are exempt from the requirement to wear face coverings will be provided with a pass to wear from the College that authorises their exemption.
What is the policy on face coverings for staff?
All student-facing staff have been provided with face coverings which MUST be worn where a 2m social distance cannot be maintained from students and colleagues . Other personal protective equipment (PPE) is available as and when required. Excluding teach staff, for all other staff in student-facing roles (for example, security staff, catering staff or support staff dealing directly with students) the wearing of face coverings is mandatory at all times if a 2m distance is difficult to maintain.
How are you keeping students apart at the College?
- At NSCG, in order to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19, we have divided our curriculum areas into a series of bubble zones. All lessons are taught in curriculum specialist classrooms/learning environments and we have specific bubble zones for each course area. Each bubble zone has been allocated a colour and students will have a corresponding coloured lanyard.
- Students will go to their bubble zone at the start of the day and will remain in their designated classrooms/learning environments for all of their sessions. Start and end times will be staggered to prevent bubble zones mixing. Students will have designated social spaces for break times and lunchtimes as well as a space for independent study if students have a ‘free study’ break in their timetable. Again, break times and lunchtimes will staggered to prevent bubble zones mixing.
What happens at ‘free study’/breaks?
- To support social distancing, the College wish to limit the number of students in corridors and communal areas. Break times have been limited, however students are being encouraged to stay a little longer in the classroom used for the previous lesson (if applicable), make their way to their next class (if applicable), or use their allocated social space if they are free.
- The classroom doors will be open from 8.30am and students may go in and sit down before the lesson starts. Students may also want to use their break times to use the washrooms and get some fresh air. Students can also use the designated social space for their bubble to eat/drink and chat with their friends whilst maintaining social distancing. Students are also permitted to leave the college building during lunchtimes/timetable gaps, but this is not compulsory.
- Individual learning zones or breakout areas will be supervised and available to students during their short lunchtime period and if they have a ‘free study’ break, so that they can complete independent study. These will be allocated to individual bubbles with appropriate hygiene measures in place. Once students have completed their classes for the day, they are encouraged to promptly leave the College campus.
How does classroom delivery work?
- Classrooms are now arranged with desks in rows (forwards facing) as per Government guidance. Staff will remain a safe distance from students in the classroom/learning environments (2m where possible/minimum of 1m+), which is clearly marked out using tape. Students will not be able to move freely around the classroom and must remain in their seats.
- In rooms where the classroom furniture is fixed, such as some science labs, engineering workshops and specialist art & design and music rooms, perspex screens have been fitted in accordance with Government guidance.
- All students will sanitise their hands on entry and exit to the classroom/learning environment and will wipe down their desk and chair with sanitising wipes before exiting.
- All students will wear face coverings (unless medical exempt) where they are seated at less than 2m distance from their peers and staff.
- Resources needed for the bubble zone will be stored separately and where this is not possible, they will be cleaned and sanitised or stored for 48 hours before they are re-used.
- Students using IT equipment as part of their curriculum will be asked to wear the gloves provided upon entry to the classroom and these should be disposed of using the facilities provided upon exit. This is in addition to the cleaning regimes in place.
- We recommend that students arrive at the College no more than 30-minutes early for their first class of the day. Once students have completed their classes for the day, they are encouraged to promptly leave the College campus.
Can students access IT facilities in college?
- We strongly encourage students to bring in their own laptops/tablets for use in college as there will be very limited access to college computers outside of classroom sessions.
- If students are using college IT facilities in class time they will need to wear disposable gloves that will be provided for them upon entry to the session.
What changes are there to transport?
Where possible, students should avoid travelling to college by public transport. If this is not possible, as per Government guidance, students must wear a face covering throughout their journey. The face covering should be removed as soon as they leave the mode of public transport and a fresh face covering should be worn within shared spaces in the College buildings, including the corridors, social spaces, toilets and wherever a 2m social distance cannot be maintained.
Is attendance compulsory?
- It is vital that young people attend regularly to ensure their educational progress continues and their general well-being is maintained.
- Please note that taking holidays should be scheduled outside of term time and keep in mind the period of self-isolation which currently applies to some destinations.
What should I do if I want to speak to a member of staff?
You are advised to contact your son/daughter’s Personal Tutor in the first instance. We are reducing the number of visitors on site and anyone wanting to come into college will have to make an appointment in advance.
What food/drink/snacks are available on-site for students?
- Food will only be available at lunchtime. Catering facilities will be provided for each of the bubbles, either via a pop-up shop facility or an allocated time slot in one of the food outlets, with appropriate hygiene measures in support of the activity.
- It is strongly advised that students bring their own lunch with them.
- In order to facilitate such large numbers in a limited time frame, there will be a reduced food offer.
- As normal, students are allowed off-site at lunchtimes.
- Please note the College Shop and coffee facilities are not currently open. Water machines will still be in operation across the college building but students should bring their own water bottles (no cups will be available).
- The tables, chairs and other touchpoints in the Food Hall will be cleaned down between the time slots allocated to different bubbles.
Can cash be used to purchase food in college?
- No cash is to be used to purchase food from any of the bubble food outlets. Students and staff can use our online WisePay system and will have access to a pay station to allow them to top-up money on their cards to purchase food, bus passes etc. Students can also pay for items using a debit card.
- Vending machines on the College site will still take cash/coins and the touch points will be sanitised throughout the day.
Will parents evenings/extra-curricular activities/trip & visits still take place?
- Decisions will be made on the format of presentation evenings and parents’ consultation evenings in the due course along with our plans for extra-curricular activities depending on Government guidance. Currently we are delaying any trips, but will contact parents/carers if this changes.
- We will continue to provide access to enrichment opportunities as far as we can with some activities taking place online. Details will be shared with all students.
Do students have access to pastoral support and Student Services?
- We have an outstanding pastoral support team in college. Our designated curriculum Personal Tutors are available throughout the day as well as our Learning Support Team and Student Services Team, who can offer support to all students who are feeling worried and would benefit from talking to someone from our support team.
- All of our students will see their Personal Tutor on a regular basis, but some students may prefer to talk to one of their subject teachers or someone from our specialist Student Services team.
- Designated rooms have been allocated for student support. The Student Services Team have arranged drop in sessions within curriculum bubbles. The sessions will be advertised on Student Notice Boards, via Personal Tutors, Weekly Tutorial Newsletters, and Curriculum Teams. If you would like to arrange an appointment for your son or daughter, please contact the Student Services Team by:-
Newcastle College students: Call 01782 254272 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stafford College students: Call 01785 275472 or email email@example.com
Are students still able to get a bus pass?
- Arrangements for issuing bus passes will operate in curriculum bubbles. Bursary students will receive a bus pass and financial support as normal which can be purchased at assigned days and times based on curriculum bubbles. This schedule will be communicated to students during induction week.
- If students have not previously applied for bursary then they can do so at any time by visiting the College’s website and clicking on the Support section and then select Financial Support. If you would like more advice on how to apply then please contact our dedicated Student Finance Team by:-
Newcastle College students: Call 01782 254188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stafford College students: Call 01785 275494 or email email@example.com
Should students bring any of their own resources?
- Students should bring their own pens, pencils, laptop and other relevant equipment related to their course (i.e. calculator for maths, personal art equipment or headphones). Details regarding access to any specialist equipment will be discussed with students during their induction week at college.
- When using college equipment students will be asked to wear gloves for some activities providing is it safe to do so.
- A limited number of personal equipment packs are available in some areas, such as Art, and will be allocated to those students deemed most at need.