The Engineering College has updated its COVID-19 Policy to suit government guidelines.
We are committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all employees, learners and visitors. This policy describes the measures that we have put in place to protect you from the risks of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak including variants of concern which, at the time of writing, includes the Delta variant and the new and largely unknown Omicron variant, and the duties that fall upon us. This policy is susceptible to changes with the introduction of additional government guidelines and you will be updated accordingly.
Last week, the rules on mask-wearing have been modified, as those of you directly affected will already know. To summarise:
- Mask wearing is no longer required in classrooms and workshops but for the time being, they must continue to be worn in communal areas.
- From, and not before, Thursday 27 January, masks are no longer required in communal areas. However, The Engineering College will support and positively encourage mask-wearing by individuals in circumstances where they feel vulnerable and in scenarios where maintaining social distance is an issue.
- Classrooms, workshops and office areas fall into what is defined as a ‘close contact’ environment so maintaining social distance and ventilating spaces will continue to apply.
- Asymptomatic testing and reporting will continue.
- Outside College, it is still a requirement to wear masks on all forms of public transport including taxis, and in other indoor settings i.e. crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people, you do not normally meet e.g. supermarket, cinema, theatre, motorway services etc. You should keep up to date with public media reports for ever-changing rules outside of College.
Please recognise that the scaling down of restrictions may feel premature or uncomfortable, possibly overwhelming, for some. With the continuous risk of the emergence of new strains, we must all continue cautiously.
Whilst we recognise vaccination is a matter of personal choice, we encourage everyone to be vaccinated and to receive their booster dose.
Learners are encouraged to attend college.
Normal attendance will continue unless, in accordance with Government guidance, an individual must meet the conditions to undertake a PCR test. NHS Test & Trace will then advise you depending on your PCR test result as to any period of mandatory self-isolation.
Shielding is no longer required since September 2021 though it is recognised that this could be changed on a local level if rates were to rise again. Staff and learners who remain or are placed under the care of a specialist health professional should seek medical advice on attending college as and when Government guidance changes.
Where learners cannot attend the site to comply with clinical and/or health protection advice, they will immediately be offered remote educational options, and engagement with this will be monitored.
All other learners must attend College.
The college will bear in mind the potential concerns of learners, parents and households who may be reluctant or anxious about attending and will put the right support in place to address this. This may include learners who were shielding previously but have been advised that this is no longer necessary, those living in households where someone is clinically vulnerable, or those concerned about the comparatively increased risk from COVID-19 and its known variants, including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds or who have certain conditions such as obesity and diabetes. The college will be clear with parents that unless a statutory reason is given, attendance is compulsory.
We will take attendance registers and continue to update relevant parties including parents/carers and employers.
Identifying close contacts at work
It is very important to identify anyone who is in close contact with someone who has tested positive (a case) so that they can isolate and prevent further infection from spreading in the workplace.
When reviewing possible close contacts, you should also consider social contact between workers outside of the normal workplace, including car-sharing to and from work.
Close contacts should be identified from 48 hours before someone develops symptoms (or 48 hours before the date of the test if they did not have symptoms) and up to 10 days from the onset of symptoms. This is the exposure period when the case could be infectious to others.
Please refer to “Close Contact Definition” above to help you identify who is a ‘close contact’ of a case.
Deep Clean Your Working Area
Clean all surfaces that the confirmed case has come into significant contact with, including:
- All surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids;
- All potentially contaminated high contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones, etc.
Public areas where the individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with bodily fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected.
If a person becomes ill in a shared space, these should be cleaned using disposable cloths and household detergents.
Mixing and ‘bubbles’
It is not necessary to keep students inconsistent groups (“bubbles”), but it may become necessary to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ for a temporary period in the event of an outbreak. Any decision to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ would not be taken lightly and will take into account the detrimental impact they can have on the delivery of education.
Throughout the pandemic, The Engineering College has risen to meet Government measures and operational guidance provided by the Department for Education, underpinning every decision we make with the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, learners and visitors at its heart. Thank you for your ongoing co-operation which ensures we can all enjoy the benefit of a safe working environment.