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Weekly COVID-19 Update: 05/03/21

Update Covid-19: Advice to all students, parents and carers 5/3/21

Dear students, parents and carers

Further to my last communication to you on 26th February 2021, please find detailed below important information about the return to College arrangements from 8th March 2021, face coverings and home testing requirements.

Return to College from 8th March 2021

Following the Government’s latest announcement, students are able to return to onsite education from 8th March 2021, unless they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. All students will be offered COVID-19 tests as they return. Where a test is taken, students may return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. We have the discretion to decide how to test students over the first week back. On Monday 8th March we will test students that are due in College on Tuesday 9th, and follow this process throughout the week until all students have received their first test. Students will attend College for their first test and then go home to await their result. If they receive a negative result, they can commence timetabled lessons the next day. For the second and third tests, there is not a requirement for a student to receive a negative before attending lessons.

During onsite testing, students will be supervised as they undertake the lateral flow test. The student will swab themselves and the testing site staff will collect the swab, process the test and record the results.  Tests will be conducted weekly to reflect that the majority of our students are not in College 5 days a week. The purpose of supervised onsite testing before moving to home testing is so students have had the chance to familiarise themselves with self-swabbing. Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged.

A letter explaining the lateral flow testing process for students is available here. Prior to undertaking the lateral flow test, students need to provide consent. The online consent form is available HERE. For students younger than 16 years – this online consent form must be completed by the parent or legal guardian. For any student who does not have the capacity to provide informed consent, this form must be completed by the parent or legal guardian.  Individuals with a positive Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test result will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance. Those with a negative LFD test result can continue to attend college unless they have individually been advised otherwise by NHS Test and Trace or Public Health professionals (for example as a close contact).

Tutors have now contacted students directly to notify them of their testing and return to college arrangements for week commencing 8th March. The testing process takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes and results are sent to test subjects via text or email approximately 30 minutes after swabbing. To comply with testing requirements, we will be operating our lateral flow testing facility in the Sports Hall at Vantage Point from Monday 8th March. The Sports Hall facility will be open from 8th March – 31st March, 8.30am until 3.30pm daily (6 hours). It will close daily 12.00pm – 1.00pm. Through this we will process in excess of 1000 tests a day, operating 15 testing bays. Students will be provided with their results via text/email 30 minutes after they have undertaken the test.  Please note, tests are by appointment only.

Students should bring their mobile phone to the test facility to undertake the NHS Test and Trace registration process. The College will have a limited number of devices for use in the testing centre for any students without their own mobile phone.

 Individuals with a positive Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test result will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance. Those with a negative LFD test result can continue to attend college unless they have individually been advised otherwise by NHS Test and Trace or Public Health professionals (for example as a close contact). If a student has recently (within 90 days) tested positive for COVID-19, they are likely to have developed some immunity. If a student has had a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test in the last 90 days through NHS Test and Trace and been recorded as a positive case on the national system, they do not need to conduct the LFD test within that time period if they are asymptomatic. They are still required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case, even if this is within the 90 day window.

Home Testing

After students have had three Lateral Flow Tests in College, they will be supplied with Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits to self-swab and test themselves twice a week at home. The College will shortly be taking delivery of these test kits. Full details of distribution arrangements will be provided as soon as possible.

College staff have now been supplied with Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits to self-swab and test themselves twice a week at home.

 Face Coverings

As mentioned in last week’s briefing, we have been closely monitoring Government guidance on the use of face coverings in Further Education settings. Face coverings are largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission for the virus that causes coronavirus infection (COVID-19). In recognition of the new variants of COVID-19, from Monday 8th March 2021, whilst onsite and undertaking any activity, face coverings, must be worn by students and staff at all times when moving around the College, in corridors and communal areas and in all classrooms, workshops and offices where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.   A face visor or shield may be worn in addition to a face covering but not instead of one. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example during sports lessons and physical activity. Parents of students under 18 who are exempt, should email tutors to confirm the exemption. If this email is not received, we will expect a face covering to be worn or a recognised exemption lanyard or badge to be visible at all times.

Communication

We have been asked to share a letter from our new Director of Public Health with parents and carers. A link to the letter is here.

Testing for people with NO symptoms (community testing)

Community testing provides regular COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic people.

One in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms.

Under Torbay Council’s new community testing programme, people who have to go to work and cannot work from home can apply for regular lateral flow device (LFD) testing to check they are not carrying the virus.

These quick 30 minute tests are for people without symptoms. Anyone with symptoms must follow the usual guidance.

How community testing works:

  • LFD tests are taken twice a week
  • The result is uploaded to Test and Trace
  • Positive result: self-isolate for 10 days, along with your household, support bubble and close contacts
  • Negative result: it is likely, but not guaranteed, that you do not have the virus at this time. You should still follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines
  • Negative result but you are a contact of someone who has COVID-19: you should self-isolate for 10 days even if you have a negative test result. This is because you could develop the infection during the next 10 days.

Community Testing Facilities in Torbay

There is a testing site in Torbay for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms at Quay West Car Park in Paignton:

To book a test, use the following link:

https://www.torbay.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/public-health/coronavirus/community-testing/

REPORTED COVID-19 CASES: LATEST DATA  

The table below gives the most up-to-date picture of COVID-19 infections at South Devon College in all areas.  

 Weekly cases:  1 (Total cases reported in the last week – this gives an indication of the number of current cases)    
Total cases:  79  (A running total of positive/presumed positive cases reported to the College by students and staff since the first case was reported on Wednesday 7th October 2020)    

Reporting positive Covid results

Please remember to complete the ‘Out of hours Notification of a POSITIVE COVID-19 test result’ form to alert us if you, a member of your household or other close contact identified through Track & Trace, receive a positive test result whilst the College is closed. This online form is available via our main website www.southdevon.ac.uk  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing support.

Yours sincerely,  

Laurence Frewin  

Principal and CEO  
South Devon College