Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for students and staff

Update — Friday 26th February 2021

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 22nd February, and the Department for Education’s Operational Guidance dated February 2021, we have been working through the implications and planning how we can most safely and practically get students and staff back into college.

Reopening is a positive step back towards normality, and the benefits of having students and staff back on campus will be huge. However, we remain committed to doing so as safely as we can.

We ask all students continue to regularly check their college email accounts to stay up to date. We have communicated with our study programme learners and will communicate with all students throughout the phased return.

Phased Return and Covid Testing for Students

The college will conduct a phased return of students to site, to be able to offer them all a Lateral Flow Test before face-to-face teaching. Students will be invited to attend college one half-day week commencing 8th March to do their first Lateral Flow Test and have a re-introduction back into college. We will communicate with students by text and by college email.

From 15th March, we expect to be operating with a balance of face-to-face and online teaching and learning. Students will also need to have two further Lateral Flow Tests once back on site.

Lateral Flow Testing (LFT)

There is an expectation that students and staff will take part in twice-weekly lateral flow tests. For weeks commencing 1st March and 8th March this will be undertaken on-site in the testing facility Block 6 Whittingham Road Campus. Thereafter students and staff will be provided with home testing kits.

For students to be tested, the college will need to have consent if over 16 years, or parental consent if under 16 years. Students will be contacted by both text message and college email as to when to book their testing slot. Students will be able to view their test slot on from Wednesday 3 March, along with instructions on how to complete the consent form. Students timetables, and arrangements for lessons for week commencing 8th March will also be emailed.

LFT is voluntary, however, we urge students and staff to participate in order to safely return to campus.

To find out more about how the LFT operates, and how the data will be used and stored, please visit:

Wearing of Face Coverings

Unless exempt, everyone on campus will be required to wear face coverings in communal areas and in teaching spaces where two metre social distancing is not possible.

Halesowen College’s risk assessment, below information, and frequently asked questions, will inform you of the actions being taken to remain safe and compliant.

For more information:

COVID-19 Testing Volunteers

The College is seeking to appoint volunteers to help us get our learners back into education and to make the College a safe environment for our young people to flourish. If you are interested in applying, please email with your name and contact details and we will call you to discuss the roles in greater detail. A brief description of the various roles you may be asked to assist in are listed below:

§Registration Assistant – Responsible for ensuring individuals have registered and to distribute test kits on arrival. To ensure that social distancing is maintained by individuals to the testing site.

§Test Assistant – Provide guidance and supervision to individuals on swabbing as required, collect completed test swabs and move them to the Swab Processor. To ensure swabbing bays/desks are cleaned after each use.

§Swab Processor – Prepare test samples for analysis, conduct processing of Lateral Flow Test and interpret result. Provide results to Results Recorder and ensure processing bays are cleaned after each use.

§Results Recorder – Collate results from Swab Processor and upload to digital solution and College records.

Training will be provided for all successful candidates. Closing date is Monday 1st March 2021.

Latest FAQs

Do I need to report a confirmed positive Covid-19 case during the 2021 Lockdown period? New

We would ask Students and staff to please report positive cases to the college as normal using the online absence system at the bottom of the page so monitoring and reporting can take place

There is no need to carry out contact tracing within the college or to report these cases to Dudley Council and DfE/PHE for those staff and students currently working and learning off site. The national test and trace system will carry out contact tracing for other contacts as usual.

Do I still come to College during lockdown? New

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national lockdown coming into force on Wednesday 6 January, the College will be closed, and teaching and learning will be fully online/remote from Wednesday 6th January 2021. This applies to all provision, including full time programmes, part time programmes, adults and higher education. Personal coaches will be in regular contact with students.

The Whittingham Road Campus will remain open to vulnerable students, and those who are children of critical workers, only. These students have been contacted, and coronavirus testing on Campus will be available for students and staff who attend in person during this lockdown period. Takeaway food will be available from the College’s B63 Bistro.

Please note: the College’s coach service will not run during this time.

Will the College be offering testing to those who attend Campus? New

Up to one third of people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic. By testing we will help to reduce the spread in the college setting through asymptomatic transmission. The College therefore strongly encourages those returning to college to be tested.

Those taking the test will be supervised by trained staff and volunteers. The lateral flow tests are quick and easy to undertake, using a swab of the nose and throat. Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be shared directly with the individual participant. The college will inform the student of a positive test result. Where participants are under 16, parents or legal guardians will also be informed. The student will also receive a text/email notification of a positive or negative result from the online NHS system. Tests are free of charge.

This testing programme at college is for people with no symptoms. If you develop symptoms at any time (including a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate, and book a test by calling 119 or visiting Book a Test.

What about data collected through the coronavirus asymptomatic testing program? New

Information regarding the data collected is included in a document at the top right of this page.

What do I do if I show symptoms or I live with someone who shows symptoms of coronavirus?

A handy guide to student absence is available on the right hand side of this page.

Students showing any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss or change in their sense of smell or taste) should not attend College or attempt to travel to College. This is also the case if they are living with someone who is displaying these symptoms.

If a student displays any symptoms during the College day, they will need to leave the College site.

Students will be taken to a designated room to wait for parents/carers or a taxi to collect them.

An enhanced cleaning regime is in place and this will be deployed after the student has left the site.

Students will not be able to return until they are free from symptoms and the proper period of self-isolation has passed, or they are free from symptoms and have had a negative test result.

Tests can be booked on the NHS Test and Trace Website or by calling NHS 119. The College must be informed of a positive or negative result.

What are the rules regarding hygiene/handwashing?

Soap in toilets will be checked and replenished throughout the day. Any issues can be reported through QR codes in the toilets.

Hand sanitiser stations are in place at the speed gates and staff will be on duty to ensure that students use them as they enter.

There is hand sanitiser at the entrance to every block.

Toilets have handwashing instructions clearly displayed.

Ensuring Good Respiratory Hygiene by Promoting “Catch it, kill it, bin it”

Posters will promote the message around the College.

Students should bring in their own tissues to College, but tissues and bins are available around the College.

Cleaning “Frequently Touched Surfaces” Using Standard Products Such as Detergents and Bleach

Cleaning staff are scheduled throughout the day to clean frequently touched surfaces and toilets.

How’s the College minimising contact and mixing on Campus?

Students will be taught in distinct groups and the groups will be kept separate as much as possible.

Movement around the College will be reduced by timetabling students in one room for a morning or afternoon session and if there is a change of teacher, it will be the teacher who moves.

Wherever possible, classrooms will be arranged so that desks are in rows with students facing forward.

Students should bring their own equipment and not share it.

Students within the same group can share College equipment but it will be cleaned regularly as part of the new cleaning routine.

Teachers will not be circulating around the room to check on the work of students as they will be two metres from the students.

Students will be required to wear face masks on College coaches.

There will be a mix of online and face-to-face learning to limit numbers of students on campus.

Students will be given a full induction of how to access online learning and lessons and these will be clearly timetabled alongside their face-to-face learning.

Students will be surveyed at induction to ensure they have the necessary equipment for online learning. If any students are concerned that they do not have the necessary equipment for online learning, they are asked to inform their Personal Coach as soon as possible.

How is the College managing the retail and catering outlets?Updated

During lockdown takeaway food will be available from the College’s B63 Bistro for those students authorised to attend site.

How do I pay for things on Campus?

Please pay contactless wherever possible using a College Card or a debit/credit card.

How is the College approaching the use of digital technology for 2020-21?

Students who have their own digital devices at home may need to use them to access online learning and for private study. It may be necessary for students to bring their own devices into college for classroom-based activities. We ask that where students have their own device, they bring it into College as necessary. As a student they are entitled to have Office 365 and some cloud storage free of charge.

Some learners do not have access to the digital equipment they need to learn, and the College need to establish the needs of every learner quickly. As part of the induction, staff are ask learners about their access to a laptop etc and make a list of all learners who may need support.

For learners who have no access to digital kit then there are several options:

  • For those in financial hardship they can apply for learner support fund and if their application is successful, they can be allocated a laptop. Please note that we have a finite number and need to get the resource we have to those most in need. Approved students can collect a laptop form the upstairs of the HUB once their device is ready.
  • For those not eligible for LSF then we have a student loan scheme whereby the student can draw a loan of up to £300 towards a digital device and this is paid back over 10 months. The scheme will be in place until Friday 25 September. Students can apply using a Microsoft form on our website from 7 September 2020. Repayments will start in October and complete by July 2021. The student will have 14 days to email a receipt demonstrating that a digital device has been purchased else the £300 will be repayable immediately.
  • Learners who have the use of a laptop stated in their EHCP will be allocated a device from the learning support team.
  • Students in receipt of the vulnerable bursary can apply directly to the government scheme.
  • UniConnect (also known as NCOP) may support devices for some eligible students – enquiries to Karylle Phillips in Block 11 via the Personal Coach.

Do I need to wear a face covering at College?Updated

We require that all staff, students and visitors wear a face covering in indoor communal areas such as corridors, the HUB and of course in retail outlets. In addition, we would recommend that wherever social distancing is challenging, for example waiting for the coach, then students again wear a face covering to reduce the risk to themselves and others.

Our concern is, as always, the health and safety of everyone in the College community and will therefore maintaining the one-way system in each block to limit movement around the College. However, students and staff can feel an increased sense of confidence wearing a face covering in corridors as they exit and arrive at lessons.

Staff and students should bring their own face covering into College as we cannot provide these on an ongoing basis.

It is essential that face coverings are worn safely, and students are discouraged from touching their face and wearing a mask that is not clean. When removing a mask, students should wash their hands first then place the mask in a sealable, plastic bag for storage, reversing the process when putting it back on. Students should ensure they have a suitable bag to store it in for times when it is not in use.

These are challenging and uncertain times with guidance changing rapidly and frequently. There is also much media attention focusing on re-opening. We do not want students to feel anxious about the return to College and we are working tirelessly to ensure that provision is both safe and welcoming for returning and new students.

How is the College support services going to work this academic year?

For 2020-21 our College Student HUB will be accessible virtually, as well as via bookable face to face appointment.  Such services include:

  • Students’ Union
  • Library and resources
  • Learning support
  • Counselling and student support
  • Careers advice
  • Admissions and financial guidance
Do you have any resources for vulnerable learners?

Halesowen College continues to support its vulnerable students. The College’s leads for Safeguarding and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have identified some key websites and resources which they believe may be useful to our vulnerable students and their families.

If you have any questions or queries, please contact us using the Submit a question option below.

Your Health and Wellbeing

It is normal to feel stressed and anxious during such difficult times. Below is our advice for protecting your mental health and well-being while the world navigates this ever-changing situation:

  • If you are studying at home, try to stick to a routine. Get up at your normal time, get dressed and eat breakfast as you usually would. Have a plan for your day and stick to it. Where possible, create a work station that you can leave at regular intervals for breaks 
  • Eat well, drink lots of water and exercise at home – looking after your physical health will have a positive impact on your mental health
  • Focus on fact, not rumour and speculation. Only follow reports from trusted news outlets or a credible source, such as the World Health Organisation. Try to limit the amount of time you spend listening to/reading/watching news reports
  • Where possible, follow advice given by health agencies and the government to protect you and your loved ones, including looking after your personal hygiene (wash your hands), cleaning surfaces and self-isolating, particularly if you/they fall into one of the at-risk groups
  • While social distancing is advised, you can use social media positively to keep in touch with your friends and family. Seek out some of the many stories of kindness and support people are sharing on-line 
  • If you are well, find out what you can do in your community to support those who are not well or are in an at-risk group 

If you need someone to talk to, and know your personal coach’s email address, contact them directly. If not, contact a member of the safeguarding team:

Please take care of yourselves and those around you. 

Additional Information

If you have any concerns about your health you should use the NHS 111 website initially, or if you have no internet access then contact the free NHS 111 telephone helpline. Check the NHS website for the latest official advice.

To see our previous responses and guidance, please refer to our archive pages available here:

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