Following the Government’s recent announcements, we are now entering a new phase regarding Covid 19. Both nationally and locally, we are now in a much better place than we were, with high rates of immunity as a result of vaccination uptake and prior infection.
This update sets out the changes and explains how we are following current national guidance.
Firstly, we would like to thank you all for your efforts over the past two years; where we’ve all worked to try and keep everyone as safe as possible. We recognise that, at times, a great deal has been asked of people and we are proud of the way that students and staff have responded, adapting to new ways of learning, and working across the whole college community.
ISOLATION AND TESTING CHANGES
The Government has signalled the end of regular asymptomatic testing in line with the current Further Education Guidance.
There is also an end to routine contact tracing and the requirement for close contacts of those who have tested positive to test daily for seven days. With this change to the Government’s guidance on testing, the college’s access to LFD testing kits is now limited. We suggest you continue to use any remaining kits you may have been issued with and advise students to also do the same.
If you develop symptoms or you are concerned that you may have Covid-19 please arrange for a PCR test. If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive you can use lateral flow tests and you are advised to take extra care around others. Tests remain free to order for everyone until 1 April 2022 via the Government website.
As a result of the national changes, we have updated our guidance on isolation and testing for the rest of the term (i.e., until Friday 1st April). If staff or students are unwell with Covid-19 symptoms, they should arrange to take a PCR test. If they test positive, we are still asking everyone to follow the current public health advice and isolate for at least five full days, returning once they have returned two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
The exception to the testing changes is for those that work or study in the LLDD Centre. As a specialist setting for SEND the guidance for LLDD is that all staff and students continue to test two times a week and isolate if they receive a positive test result.
All test results should continue to be reported to the college using the BSC Reporting Covid-19 Test Results and Information Form.
CONTINUING MEASURES TO REDUCE THE TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19
Whilst there are grounds for optimism, coronavirus has not gone away, it is crucial that we continue with measures to combat virus transmission within the college. The Government states that good ventilation, hygiene and vaccination uptake, as well as following any additional advice from local directors of public health, are the best measures to prevent Covid-19 spreading in education.
Everyone should continue to use the hand sanitisers provided regularly, or wash hands thoroughly with soap. They should also cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then promptly dispose of the tissue in the nearest bin. We will continue to ensure that classrooms and other areas are well-ventilated, we will also continue with the current cleaning regime. With vaccinations being instrumental in protecting everyone, we will continue to remind students and staff that of course they are still able to get their first, second and booster doses, as appropriate. It remains possible that local Public Health Directors may advise the reintroduction of measures to help control localised outbreaks and hence it is still important that everyone continues to use the college reporting form for us to monitor cases.
With regards to face-coverings, students and staff are free to wear them in any situation if they wish to do so. If someone is feeling unwell or they know they are a close contact of a confirmed case, we would strongly advise that they take responsibility and consider others by wearing a mask. This will help protect those in the college community who are clinically vulnerable. We would ask everyone to follow TfL guidance on buses and trains and extend that guidance on college transport.
In this new phase, by continuing to take the necessary precautions we hope to work together to prevent the transmission of Covid-19, whilst simultaneously enjoying a full educational experience for everyone.