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FAQs: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We have compiled the most important and frequently asked questions below.  If there is anything else you would like to know please contact healthandsafety@brooklands.ac.uk 

As a technical college offering a range of practical curriculum courses our campus is COVID-Secure and open for learning with students required to attend lessons according to their timetable in a blended format with some subject materials delivered online.  Students can Click here to access their Google Classroom.  Questions on curriculum can be addressed to student tutors or via info@brooklands.ac.uk

Other visitors to College are limited and are asked not to physically come to site unless pre-arranged beforehand and absolutely necessary. Please contact our team for assistance at: info@brooklands.ac.uk | 01932 797 700

Students and staff can click here to access our flow chart to see if you should be attending College in various COVID related scenarios. All visitors must have a pre-arranged appointment including those attending our salon and training restaurant. Nobody should attend campus if they develop COVID symptoms or have tested positive for COVID.

  • Wear a face covering in all communal areas – including corridors, the hall, refectory, LRC
  • Maintain social distancing including any special instructions in a particular class or subject area
  • Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue or elbow, wash hands or use sanitiser regularly 
  • To stay away from College if unwell generally and also to observe protocols in question 2

COVID Secure is the term used in government guidance to describe what an organisation needs to achieve to manage Coronavirus risk.  Here is how we’ve addressed the five steps to this: 

  1. The first requirement is to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments
    The College has achieved this both as a central risk assessment and also by supporting departments in undertaking their own assessments to address location and activity specific risks at a micro-level.  Both types of assessment have been carried out consultatively – by line managers with their teams – and by incorporating feedback from online COVID surgeries hosted by our H&S Advisor. The resulting arrangements from risk assessments have been shared through staff and student training materials with revised processes communicated via regular staff and student updates

  2. The second requirement is to develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
    The College has encouraged people to follow guidance on hand washing and hygiene – through posters and also through our online training presentation

    We’ve provided hand sanitiser around the College at building entrances initially, and now are rolling out to cover multiple floors of larger buildings 

    We’ve established an enhanced cleaning rota that is reviewed ongoingly based on departmental feedback and requests and this includes door handles and push panels, handrails, toilets and other frequently touched features of our buildings and busy areas. In terms of keyboards and mice etc, we’re following a benchmarked approach in line with other Further Education and Higher Education establishments whereby sanitising wipes are made available at point of use, for users of shared equipment in order for them to take ownership of ensuring the equipment is clean before use.  

  3. The third of our five steps has been to help and encourage staff to work from home
    Line managers now discuss home working arrangements with staff on a 1-2-1 basis in line with the College’s homeworking policy and enforce homeworking for all non-site-critical work – with exceptions made only where they do not have a suitable working space at home. Where in compliance with government guidance, some education delivery is also provided online.

  4. The fourth point to the government’s COVID Secure criteria is maintaining 2m social distancing or 1m with mitigations.
    This criterion is modified in the governments specific guidance for Further education with a “where possible” caveat added, but the College is still keen to achieve it everywhere if it can.

    We’ve put up signs to remind all of us and students to socially distance and to only access buildings that they are authorised to be in.

    The 2m rule is everyone’s default objective where it possibly can be and in offices, department heads schedule and enforce rotas to control who is in on which day to prevent unnecessary breaches at adjoining workstations.  Breaches of the 2m rule, using the 1m rule as a reference, are only made if mitigations can be put in place, for example screens, face coverings, back to back, side to side working. In classrooms, where a commercial sector guidance applies to an activity – for example hair and beauty – specific mitigations are followed, including masks and visors.  In other classrooms a view is taken at department level as to what is possible and practical.  Teaching staff may choose to wear face coverings or visors if they feel more comfortable and these are made available on request by the College for teachers. We’re following government guidance on this and don’t recommend that students wear face coverings in classrooms in general but that they do in communal areas and in classroom areas where there is prolonged periods of proximity activity.

    Keeping windows open in all areas where possible is another government guidance requirement that supplements social distancing requirements and is encouraged across campus especially in classrooms

    We have also tried to minimise shared workstations and in particularly shared keyboards and mice but have needed to accept the reality that eliminating this completely isn’t sustainable in terms of students but also in some cases members of staff.  There are cleaning or quarantine processes in place for equipment trolleys but our overlying message is that users must also take responsibility for their own safety themselves, using equipment wipes provided and washing their hands and sanitising after use

    We have used floor signage across the College to help people keep to a 2m distance

    In communal areas with higher footfall we have enforced a face covering policy, as the physical constraints of our infrastructure do not permit effective one-way systems.

    All third party visitors to College are also kept to a minimum, only visiting physically where critical and switching to online meetings if not.  All physical visitors to the college are registered in advance via the reception booking system for test and trace records.

  5. The fifth government criteria for the College to be COVID-Secure is to manage transmission risk where people cannot be 2m apart

    In addition to the points already covered the college has abandoned non-critical / essential activity where social distancing cannot be adhered to or has found safe ways of doing it

    It has kept essential close proximity activities to as low a duration as possible

    It has utilised screens and barriers in high footfall / transaction orientated settings to separate people from each other

    It has adopted back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible

    It has naturally staggering arrival and departure times through a flexibly structured timetable

    And it has reduced the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘bubbles’ and a restricted return to campus strategy

All of Brooklands’ departments have been outstanding in their preparation for the Autumn 2020 Term. The reasons that many risks are managed departmentally are both legal and operational:

Legally, risk assessments for any health and safety matter must be conducted collaboratively, involving all levels of personnel who are closest to how and where the work is done. The operational reason that this is written into law is that involving those people gets a better end result.  It is only the individuals who work in a department on a day to day basis, who can foresee where hazards will be, can visualize where things will go wrong if they’re not addressed.  They might need support or at least a second opinion from the College’s Health and Safety Advisor or from our HR department and then help implementing from our Estates team but the knowledge and experience they have are necessary for suitable and sufficient assessment.

This departmental model may create the impression of inconsistency at first across the College but more accurately what is being seen is a risk-based approach where departments prioritise their efforts against varying risk types and severities.

No, this isn’t practical – in refilling terms alone. Centrally, the College makes provision at building entrances and some additional provision and departments can arrange for additional if they assess that its necessary.  Our messaging is that hand washing with soap as per government guidelines remains the most effective defence against surface transmission of the virus.

Staff and students should as a rule remain in their immediate work locations for the duration of the day and only go to another location if they have a pre-arranged appointment or meeting.  

At Brooklands we two groupings of “bubbles” that have been called social bubbles and super bubbles. Social bubbles are the classes for the main learning aim that the student is studying and the average class size is 15 – which is below the DfE recommendation of 30 that it has given secondary schools. Super bubbles then include the students in the English and maths class. These have been timetabled in the same department of the same floor in the same building. This will increase the social bubble to a maximum of 50 learners, again distinctly less than the 100 the DfE recommended for year group bubbles. English and Maths teachers have been allocated to curriculum areas so their mixing with a large amount of other groups has been reduced as much as possible with over 50% of their contact with the students being remote.

For the time being – no, not on campus – because smoking has to be in a designated place for fire safety reasons but the gathering that this creates breaches social distancing strategies.

Recent World Health Organisation guidance suggests that this type of testing can give false confidence to those who have early stages of COVID where a temperature does not feature and also discriminates against those with a temperature for another reason who don’t have COVID. So, this isn’t a measure we’ve adopted at the present time.

These are quickly fed through via line managers and automatically-escalating online forms that alert Health and Safety and the SLT to incidents and to suspected and confirmed COVID cases.  Confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with the College are reported to the Department of Education and Public Health England and the College follows the operational and communication instructions received from them.

 

Additional Advice

  • If your son or daughter has any concerns about their College work, please ask them to contact their tutor.
  • Encourage everyone to properly follow handwashing and personal hygiene precautions.
  • Make sure we have the most up to date contact details for you and your son or daughter.
  • Stay up-to-date with the official Public Health England guidance.
  • Contact the College is you have any further concerns – info@brooklands.ac.uk 
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