COVID-19 update (Sept 2021)
Briefing for students
We are glad to confirm that we will once again be meeting in person in College from September and look forward very much to it. This briefing is intended to give us a common understanding of how to act to protect one another as we emerge out of national COVID restrictions.
Our aim as ever is to ensure as safe a working, studying and social environment as we can for everyone and, as we come out of lockdown conditions, to enable us all to enjoy each other’s company in as unrestricted a community as is consistent with general safety.
Our plans are based on the government’s operational guidance for higher education settings, as well as taking account of the latest Church of England and government workplace guidance.
With the end to legal restrictions, we are being asked to take greater personal responsibility around COVID-19. In the light of this we have drawn up a risk assessment on which this briefing is based.
The arrangements documented here serve to help us transition from the restrictions with which we have become accustomed to a time when we can act more normally whilst helping one another feel safe.
COVID infection rates in the Bristol area are generally higher than the national average but they appear to be dropping quickly. We do not see the need, at this stage, to take exceptional precautionary measures. In the event of a local outbreak, we will institute other measures as appropriate.
If you have particular needs or circumstances of which these guidelines do not take account, please let us know and we will of course do our best to accommodate them.
In outline, the measures we are now taking are these:
- We ask and strongly encourage everyone who is able to receive two vaccinations by the time term begins, or as soon as practicable thereafter.
- We also ask and strongly encourage all those who join us on the college site and who are able to take two lateral flow tests each week at home.
- Unless exempt, we ask everyone to wear a face covering in the corridors and public spaces (such as the reception area) as we move around College. We will not require this in lectures and meetings. We do not plan to continue the one-way system.
- We ask everyone to wash their hands regularly and use the hand sanitiser available on entering different areas of the College.
- We should all ensure that rooms are well ventilated when people gather.
- Seating in lecture rooms and chapel will be spaced further apart than was usual before the pandemic.
- We will have a marquee on the front lawn during Welcome Week to give maximum opportunity for people to get to know as many people as possible in a well-ventilated space.
- We ask people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), who need to take extra precautions because of others, or who have other needs or concerns not accounted for in this guidance to liaise with us so that adjustments can be made.
In more detail
In line with national advice, we ask and strongly encourage all those who are able to participate in the double vaccination programme. We recognise there may be one or two cases of individuals who for health or other reasons are unable to be vaccinated. If this is the case, we ask you to be especially cautious in order to protect yourself and others.
If you are moving into shared accommodation or returning after the summer, the government asks us to encourage you strongly to take a Covid test using a lateral flow device (LFD) before you travel and to take two LFD tests 3 or 4 days apart on arrival. This is to reduce the risk of transmission from people moving around the country.
Please also take a test before your first attendance at College. You may be able to time this so that it is the same as one of your arrival tests.
At least until the end of September, all staff and students who come into college should take LFD tests twice weekly at home unless they are unable to do so. Home test kits can be collected from local pharmacies or ordered online for home delivery free of charge. If a test proves positive, you should let Alison Branston (the Operations Manager) know, apply for a lab (PCR) test, and only come into college after a negative PCR test or after the requisite number of days of self-isolation. Please continue to follow the national guidance for people who have received a positive COVID-19 test result.
All test results including negative or void results should be reported online to Test and Trace.
Close contacts of positive Covid cases who have received both vaccinations are no longer required to self-isolate but are advised to take a PCR test. The government does not require you to self-isolate whilst awaiting the result. More information is here. August 2021 3
We will require all visitors to the college to supply their contact details at reception as well as times of visit so that we have a record of all those who have been present in College to facilitate NHS Test and Trace. We will display an NHS QR code at reception for people wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app.
Participating in NHS Test and Trace is intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The details are used for the purposes of NHS Test and Trace and in accordance with our Data Protection Policy.
4. Hygiene arrangements
A face covering should be worn when we are walking through public areas in college such as the corridors and reception unless we are in the exempt category. By this means we can dispense with the one-way system.
Otherwise, we will not generally require people to wear masks around college (although see below with respect to collecting lunches). People may choose to, however. We should all be careful to honour the decisions others take regarding maintaining social distancing and the wearing of masks.
Regular handwashing and use of sanitiser are encouraged, particularly when touching food and drinks. Hand sanitiser is specifically available for use on entering the Dining Room and lecture rooms.
The domestic team increased the frequency of cleaning toilets and kitchens in the early stages of the pandemic. This will continue while anxieties persist concerning the COVID virus. Whereas between lockdowns the team disinfected surfaces after each use of a room, this is no longer considered necessary following scientific advice concerning the spread of the virus through surface contact. However, heavily used rooms such as the Dining Room and lecture rooms will be cleaned and disinfected more frequently. Cleansing surface wipes will be available for use in many places including toilets.
5. Lecture rooms
The main lecture rooms this year will be LR1, LR2 and LR3, as well as LR4 (aka Dalton Room) for seminar-type classes. We do not consider there to be a need to use the Dining Room as a lecture room, as last year. More space is being allowed between seats than was the custom before the pandemic to make the conditions more comfortable for students. The ventilation system in LR1 and 2 draws fresh air into the rooms and so it is not necessary to open the windows, but you may wish to in order to enhance ventilation in those areas. The windows should be opened in LR3 and LR4.
6. Attendance at lectures and other classes
Students will normally be expected to attend College activities in person unless unable to do so. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) or have to self-isolate (for example if you are pinged) or have some other medical reason, or you need to shield someone else who is particularly vulnerable, please let the Operations Manager know. She will liaise with your tutor and Barbara Bews (the Academic Registrar). Lecturers will have the facility in lecture rooms to give remote access through a Zoom link to students. These will no longer be made available to all students as a matter of course but only those for whom it is agreed that they cannot attend the class in person. Some lectures may still be conducted fully virtually. School of Leadership sessions will continue online.
7. Academic practices
We anticipate most academic practices returning to normal in 2021-2022. Where practices become or remain affected by the conditions of the pandemic, students will receive relevant information from the academic office. This will include acceptable practice regarding seeking extensions to assignment deadlines, protocols regarding presence on screen when self-isolating, recording of lectures, etc.
8. Part-time course
The part-time course will resume on Tuesday evenings as before the pandemic.
9. Dispersed Leaners
We are glad to welcome DLs on site as usual. Where we can, we will accommodate students overnight in guest bedrooms, though a few may wish or need to be accommodated off site. This will be arranged well in advance of residential weeks.
The library will reopen to students from the beginning of term. Students will be able to access books in the normal way. You must follow the guidance given in the library (including hand sanitising, limitation on numbers permitted to sit at desks, etc). Students may study in the library, subject to any library-specific guidance. The library will not be open to external users for the time being until further notice. The new online resources we made available last year will still be available in the new year, including Perlego.
11. Dining Room
We are pleased that we can open the Dining Room again for lunches from the beginning of term. Meals will be served from the servery by staff and student helpers. We must sanitise August 2021 5
our hands on entering and wear a face covering when queuing for and receiving our food. There will be plenty of places available to sit in the Dining Room, including an area for people who prefer to sit with a measure of social distancing. People who would prefer a greater level of distance may also take their meal elsewhere so long as they clean up after themselves and return plates and cutlery to the Dining Room within the lunch hour so that the team can do the washing up in their allotted time. Any food waste should be disposed of in the Dining Room where indicated and not elsewhere in college.
Tuesday evening meals for part-time course students and Carter/satellite residents will resume.
12. College opening hours
From Welcome Week the college will be unlocked between 8.00 am and 9.00 pm throughout the week, including weekends. This follows from the lack of necessity to disinfect rooms before and after use.
We are pleased to be able to welcome student families again. They must sign in at reception and give contact details. If the student wishes to invite family members to lunch, they can do so by signing them in using the meals log-in system. We will restrict the frequency in the first half term to one occasion per week.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to run College Kids on Wednesday mornings as we did prior to the pandemic. This is to protect students, who have been staffing these activities, from the possible spread of the virus from little children. However, parents may organise their own creches, and we are delighted that Connect are resuming a full programme of activities (see under social events).
We ask that the invitation to guests to visit the college be kept to a minimum in the first half of term, after which we will review the situation. This is to give some measure of reassurance to community members while we become used again to being with larger numbers of people. Where guests do join us, they must sign in at reception.
15. Social events and Common Rooms
Generally, it will not be necessary to wear a face covering when socialising in the common room areas. The Student Exec will keep the use of these spaces under review to ensure that all students can meet there comfortably. If they judge it to be helpful, they may introduce an area where people can meet wearing masks. August 2021 6
In Welcome Week, we will meet for worship in the marquee on the front lawn. Audio equipment is being set up for this. In other weeks, the service will be led from the chapel and broadcast to the Dining Room on YouTube. A rota will allocate half the tutor groups to the chapel and half to the Dining Room. In line with Church of England acceptable practice, face coverings will not be required in either location, but anyone who prefers to be somewhere where face coverings are worn will be able to go to the Dining Room where there will be an area designated for this purpose by the windows, to ensure it is also well ventilated.
Communion will continue to be taken in one kind for the time being. For the time being we also discourage the physical sharing of the Peace.
17. Tutor and other small groups
Tutor groups and ASEP groups will be allocated to the larger meeting rooms around the college to allow for more space. Whereas between lockdowns we staggered the start times, we do not consider it necessary to do so under the current conditions. We ask group leaders to check discretely with group members whether there are people in the group who need masks to be worn. Singing is permitted if the group as a whole is comfortable to do this.
In DL residential weeks we may not have enough meeting rooms to accommodate all the groups. In such circumstances, we may ask some groups to meet outside college or on Zoom on these occasions.
We will resume the practice of having shared studies. Students should determine between themselves with the other occupant(s) of the room if they wish to wear masks or if they do not wish to work in the rooms concurrently. If you wish to be allocated to a study with other students who wish to wear masks, or have a specific need for a single-occupancy study, please let Rebecca Ford (the Accommodation and Facilities Officer) know by filling out the form which has been emailed to you.
19. Arrival at college
Students coming from abroad, including international students, must follow the correct arrival procedure issued in relation to the country of origin according to the ‘traffic light’ system in force, including following rules concerning quarantine. On arrival international students should register with a local General Practitioner (GP) practice. They should arrange with their GP practice to book a vaccination, which is free of charge. August 2021 7
Students arriving at college from the UK should ensure that they have received two negative LFD tests in the three or four days running up to their arrival date.
If you have any questions concerning your arrival, you should contact Sophie Davis or Alison Branston.
Last year Carter operated as a bubble such that if one person caught COVID the others went into self-isolation. This will not be necessary this year. Instead, decisions about self-isolation will be made based on the level of contact and advice received from Public Health England.
21. Welcome Week (13-17 September)
- New students will be provided with a separate programme and briefing for Welcome Week.
- Tutor Groups will make their own arrangements to meet for informal social time to welcome new members and get to know one another on the morning of Friday 10 September. TrinityFest begins at midday.
- The Welcome Service will be in the marquee on the front lawn on Saturday 11 September, 4pm.
- Worship during Welcome Week will take place in the marquee and will therefore not be streamed.
- Tutor Groups will meet Wednesday 11am-1pm and Thursday 8.30-9am during Welcome Week.
- Returning students are welcome to attend worship and sign up for lunch in College during Welcome Week but this is not mandatory (though see next point).
- We do however ask all returning as well as new students to attend Communion in the marquee at 8.30am on Friday morning.
- The library and student studies will be available to returning students.
22. Other needs
Whilst we are confident that the measures in this document will be adequate to keep the majority of people safe, we recognise there could be members of our community who need to take extra precautions. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), need to take extra precautions because of others, or you have other needs or concerns not accounted for in this guidance, please liaise with us so that adjustments can be made. August 2021 8
Staff contacts for advice:
General and arrivals: Alison Branston, Admissions Officer transitioning to Operations Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org and 01179 680254)
Accommodation and studies: Rebecca Ford, Accommodation and Facilities Officer (email@example.com and 0117 9680204)
Academic: Barbara Bews, Academic Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org and 0117 968265)
SIX TOP TIPS FOR POST-LOCKDOWN
(taken and adapted from the ZOE COVID Study in association with King’s College London)
1. Respect others
Be aware of personal space and personal choice. Don’t assume that people are ready to hug, shake hands or reduce social distance. If wearing a mask makes someone feel safer, they should be free to do so (see 4 below).
2. Socialise outside
Open air spaces are the best places to be with friends and family because the tiny droplets and aerosol particles that contain infectious virus disperse quickly outdoors.
3. Wear a mask in poorly ventilated or cramped areas
Airborne particles can multiply rapidly in crowded, badly ventilated places. So, wearing a mask makes sense, if you are able to, in such situations.
4. Continue to practise good hygiene
Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. Alternatively, use the hand gel or sanitiser positioned around college. Avoid touching your mouth and eyes if you’ve been out and haven’t washed your hands in a while to stop droplets being transferred from your hands.
5. Get your second jab
The key to protection is two doses of the vaccine. Public Health England have found that double-vaccinated people have up to 96% protection from hospitalisation, and perhaps as little as 52% from one jab.
6. Be aware of the COVID symptoms
According to the ZOE survey, the top COVID symptoms after two vaccine doses are:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of smell
Among those who are not vaccinated a fever and a persistent cough are also among the most common symptoms. If you have symptoms, take a lateral flow test to check.