Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for students and staff

Update – Wednesday 21 April 2021

In line with the Department for Education guidance we are working towards getting all students back to face-to-face learning for 100% of lessons.  This is a complex task and will be undertaken in a phased way to ensure we can continue to ensure the safety of all our staff and students.

The next phase of this reopening will be to bring all A1 and A2 students back to 100% face-to-face lessons from Monday 26th April.  Details of any timetable changes and rooms will be sent to students and will be visible on MyHalesowen by Friday 23rd April. There are a couple of exceptions to this, German and Spanish, but teachers will be in touch with students studying these subjects to clarify.

This also has implications for College coaches which since September have operated a one person per double seat policy.  Again, in line with guidance from DfE issued on Monday 19th April, we will now be allowing students to sit together.  We will continue to operate additional coaches across our whole network, so there will still be excess capacity in almost all cases. Wherever possible we would still recommend students sit alone, however where it is not possible to have a double seat per student, we will be following government recommendations, which are:

When you are travelling by public or dedicated school transport, don’t forget to:

  •  wear a face covering (unless you are exempt – including if you are aged 11 and under). It is important  you wear them for the entirety of your journey, including inside a bus or train station
  •  social distance where possible
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • be considerate to fellow passengers and staff.

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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