6th September 2021
Dear students, parents and carers
Firstly, I would like to give a warm welcome to all new students, parents and carers to South Devon College. It’s great to have you with us.
To our returning students, a huge ‘Welcome back’. I hope you all enjoyed a lovely break and are looking forward to the 21/22 academic year.
Please find below important information relating to the following:
- Covid – general update for students
- Covid Testing – students
- Reporting a POSITIVE covid test result out of hours
- Reporting COVID-19 Cases: Latest data
Please forgive the length of this update, but I do have a lot of ‘start of term’ information to share.
1. Covid – General update for students
Devon and the neighbouring authorities Torbay, Plymouth, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been designated as an ‘enhanced response area’ by the government because COVID-19 case rates are so high.
As a result, we are all being asked do what we can to reduce Devon’s coronavirus case rate:
Please do your bit by:
- limiting your social contacts to stop the virus spreading
- meeting others outside, because that’s safer than meeting inside
- wear face coverings when indoors in public places and in communal areas of the College buildings from w/c 6th Sept
- washing your hands properly and regularly
- testing yourself regularly with rapid lateral flow device tests
- having the COVID-19 vaccine when offered
- self-isolating and arranging a PCR test if you show any symptoms of coronavirus or you are told to by NHS Test and Trace
Within College, in accordance with Government guidance, we have restored classrooms to their original capacity and layout, removed social distancing markers from floors and reinstated communal seating areas.
We will continue to constantly review our approach, following the latest government guidance and will adapt what we do accordingly. Please do whatever you can to keep our students, colleagues and visitors safe.
Ongoing testing is essential to maximise the number of students in face to face education and minimise any disruption in a way that best manages the COVID-19 risk. If our positive COVID numbers increase and meet defined DfE thresholds additional control measures will have to be implemented on a site by site basis.
Please find detailed below the latest information regarding self-isolation and exemptions from self-isolation.
When to self-isolate:
Self-isolate straight away and get a PCR test (a test that is sent to the lab) on GOV.UK as soon as possible if you have any of these three symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild:
- A high temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You should also self-isolate straight away if:
- You’ve tested positive for COVID-19 – this means you have the virus
- Someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive (unless you are not required to self-isolate – check below if this applies to you)
- You’ve been told to self-isolate following contact with someone who tested positive – find out what to do if you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
When you do not need to self-isolate:
If someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, you will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:
- you’re fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
- you’re under 18 years, 6 months old
- you’re taking part or have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Even if you do not have symptoms, you should still:
- Get a PCR test on GOV.UK to check if you have COVID-19
- Follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
- Consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk from COVID-19
Exemptions from self-isolation for contacts:
You are not required to self-isolate if you are notified you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and any of the following apply:
- you are fully vaccinated
- you are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- you have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
You are fully vaccinated 14 days after your final dose of an MHRA-approved vaccine that was administered in the United Kingdom. This is to allow for an antibody response to develop. If you were fully vaccinated at the time you had close contact with a positive case, you will not be required to self-isolate.
NHS Test and Trace will contact you to:
- let you know that you have been identified as a contact
- check whether you are legally required to self-isolate
- provide you with advice
Even if you do not have symptoms, you will be advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible. Children aged 4 and under will not be advised to take a test unless the positive case was someone in their own household.
You should not arrange to have a PCR test if you have previously received a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days, unless you develop any new symptoms of COVID-19, as it is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection.
2. Covid Testing – students
Asymptomatic testing remains extremely important in reducing the risk of transmission of infection. Colleges are being asked to offer students onsite lateral flow device tests before and on return to College. As many of our students travel a distance to attend College, are working and have other commitments which would make it difficult for them to attend College on two separate occasions before the start of term, we are offering all students the opportunity of home testing as an alternative. We also know that many of our new and returning students have been home testing regularly and are familiar with the process.
New students will be issued with their home testing kits when they arrive for their enrolment appointment.
All other students who have not already been onsite and collected a home testing kit, should use their existing supply of home test kits. If students have run out of previously issued home test kits, they can either:
- order via this link for home delivery
- collect a box from the test kit collection point at Level 1 Reception, Vantage Point campus. The collection point will be open weekdays from Monday 6th September to Friday 17th September, 0930-1530.
If students are unable to use either of these options, they can email Helpzone via [email protected] to make alternative arrangements.
When timetabled lessons begin, tutors will collect test kits for their students and distribute to the students directly.
Students should check their timetable via SDConnect over the next two weeks to see their first day back. All students should test themselves twice a week, on a Sunday and Wednesday evening after 6pm with this testing schedule starting as soon as the student receives the home test kits and certainly starting the Sunday before they are due to return to College.
The test kit box contains full instructions on how to conduct the home tests. Here is a link to an instruction video.
Students must report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed either online using this link, or by telephone. Full instructions are included in the booklet provided with the home test kit.
Students must also share their result, either positive, negative or VOID with the College to help with contact tracing using the link HERE.
Students with a positive LFD test result will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at home guidance. They will also need to arrange a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result. Those with a negative LFD test result can continue to attend College.
If any students would prefer to undertake their tests in College, instead of at home, they should notify their tutor and we will make arrangements for these tests to be taken onsite.
3. Reporting Positive COVID results Out of Hours
Please remember to complete the ‘Out of hours Notification of a POSITIVE COVID-19 test result’ form using this link to alert us immediately if you receive a positive test result whilst the College is closed.
4. 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:(Total confirmed positive cases reported in the last week)||3|
|Total cases:(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)||139|
Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you at the start of the new Academic Year and to thank you for your support.
Principal and CEO
South Devon College