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Posted 27.08.20

Maintaining a ‘Covid-safe’ campus

By Naomi Girdler

At Plymouth College of Art, the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors are of the highest importance. As new guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) is released from UK government authorities, we’re committed to keeping our community informed and reassured. To help you make sense of the latest developments and what to expect on campus going forward into the new academic year, we’ve compiled the following provisions that have been made to ensure safe return to our campuses and buildings whilst utilising facilities and services wherever possible.

Please take a moment to read through the information, which will help you to settle in smoothly on campus. If you have particular queries about your course you should contact your Subject Leader. 

Looking after each other

When visiting and studying at Plymouth College of Art, the main steps that we’re asking all staff and students to follow to keep everyone safe are:

  • Swipe your ID card when entering and leaving (This is essential for Track & Trace) 

  • Follow hygiene guidance 
  • Take a quick forehead temperature check upon entry - For ages 11 to 65, a normal temperature is between 35.9°C to 37.6°C
  • Follow the one-way systems
  • Remember to keep a 2-metre social distance between yourself and others
  • Use a face covering when appropriate - see below
  • Clean your study or work space before and after use - see below  
  • Keep windows open and dress warmly anticipating the campus will be well ventilated

Your support and diligence is vital to looking after both yourselves and our whole community. It will help us to ensure access to our  amazing workshops, studios and social spaces can continue throughout the academic year, minimising disruption to your studies and keeping us all safe.

You'll need your ID card

To ensure we are able to keep to a safe number of staff, students and visitors on campus at any one time and operate an effective Track and Trace system, all staff and students are asked to carry and use their ID card at all times.

You will be asked to swipe your ID card when:

  • Entering any campus building 
  • Passing through internal doors and areas with ID Card readers
  • Exiting the campus

For your safety, the ID cards of any students or members of staff known to test positive for Covid-19 will be temporarily deactivated to block access to the campus until their period of self-isolation is complete. 

Two-metre distancing

All areas within the college have been set out to enable us all to maintain 2 metres distance, and your timetables have been developed based upon the total safe numbers of staff and students (room capacities) for each studio and study space. However, at times it will be unavoidable that social distancing will reduce to between 1 metre and 2 metres, such as when passing through corridors. Current government guidance advises we keep 2 metres away from each other as a precaution, or 1 metre away when you can reduce the risk by taking other precautions. 

Face coverings

The UK Government guidance for the use of face coverings continues to be updated and the college maintains close contact with local and national health and education authorities to ensure we are ready to respond quickly. As an additional safety precaution, we will ask everyone to wear a face covering where distancing within college buildings could be less than 2 metres. 

This includes:

  • Moving through communal areas within the College such as passing others in corridors, canteen, bathrooms and reception areas
  • Entering and leaving the College
  • Moving from your place of study/work to another location in the College
  • Whilst entering, queuing or leaving communal spaces such as the canteen, library, ERC, computer suites and IT helpdesk
  • Where distancing may be less than 2 metres (see below)

Once settled in your workspace it is currently not necessary to wear face coverings except when there may be specific activities where 2m distancing cannot be maintained, which may include some types of group work. 

All staff and students must carry and supply their own face coverings. Remember, there will be people who cannot wear a face covering, or who may rely on reading your lips when talking to you and this should be dealt with sensitively.

Keeping our campus clean

We’ve implemented increased cleaning protocols that include regular and routine deep cleaning, as well as the ability to carry out specialist deep cleaning as required. However, we all have a responsibility to maintain a clean work environment to look after one another and ensure that our college stays as clean as possible. 

Ways that you can help include:

  • Regularly wash your hands (for more than 20 seconds) and use the sanitising stations around the campus at frequent intervals
  • Sanitise ‘general access’ work stations including desktop, computer mice and keyboards before and after usage with the sprays and single-use wipes provided, keyboard covers are in place to make this easier
  • Sanitise specialist resources when you use them, technical staff will show you how

Wrap up warmly

Across the college we have adopted an “open window” approach to ensure all our spaces are kept as well-ventilated as possible with fresh air. This will mean studios and communal areas will be chilly  at times and warm clothing will be a must on cool days. Bring some extra layers and be reassured that there are no recycled air ventilation systems used in our buildings.

Accessing student services & resources online

All our fantastic services to students are available remotely and we encourage everyone to use these services online, but do please ask if you need any service face-to-face. 

The Student Portal provides information and access to all our services, with booking forms available to make appointments for the services listed below through a system called Connect-2.  If you have a query the easiest and quickest way to receive an answer is to use the relevant general email address provided in the portal (e.g. studentsupport@pca.ac.uk, careers@pca.ac.uk, registry@pca.ac.uk, library@pca.ac.uk, etc).

Booking non-timetabled activities

You’ll be able to arrange activities outside of your timetabled sessions but these must be booked in advance through our Connect-2 system (accessible via the Student Portal) online. Activities include:

  • On campus - access to workshop spaces / specialist resources for individual work
  • Workshops Wednesdays (online cross-disciplinary workshops) 
  • On campus - access to computer rooms
  • On campus - library workdesk access (library resources and book loans are accessed on-line)
  • Most appointments are online for the Learning Lab, academic skills, library, IT support/helpdesk and careers staff, unless otherwise agreed in advance

Please note:

  • For wellbeing, counselling, disability support and any queries around finance and financial support, please email studentsupport@pca.ac.uk
  • The Students’ Union will have their own booking system for in-person events on or off campus.Sickness & absence reporting

Absence reporting

If you develop symptoms of Coronavirus (any of the following; new continuous cough, high temperature, loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell) then you should stay at home (self-isolate), report this to us through the absence/sickness reporting procedure, and arrange to have a test. You should call 119 to make sure you are tested as soon as possible and when being tested tell the NHS that you are a student at Plymouth College of Art so that they can also keep us informed to support you should you become unwell or need to isolate. When you receive your  test results (usually by text) you must report the outcome of your test to us through the absence/sickness reporting procedure and send us a screengrab of your positive or negative test result by email to healthupdates@pca.ac.uk.

Absence reporting step-by-step for students:

  • Complete the easy online Absence & Illness Reporting Form, available on the Student Portal and the college website
  • Contact your Subject Leader as soon as possible
  • If you have later had positive or negative test results for Covid-19, you should complete the absence/illness form again and also email healthupdates@pca.ac.uk with a copy of your NHS Test result SMS. This allows us to get you back to campus when safe to do so
  • Remember to advise the NHS Test & Trace team that you are a Plymouth College of Art student
  • Your nominated emergency contact or next-of-kin can also report your absence by following the same link

How do I get a test?

It's so important to get tested and it doesn't take long. We hope that ‘on the spot testing’ may be rolled out later in the year but currently to get a test, you’ll book an appointment at a walk-through or drive-through test centre, or by ordering a home test kit.  To do any of these, you must follow the step by procedure at this link or by telephoning 119 (NHS).

There are currently static test centres in Plymouth (in the former Seaton Barracks, near Derriford) and Exeter (Honiton Road Park & Ride), with mobile test centres often available in Barnstaple, Tiverton, Torquay, Launceston. Please check that this information is up-to-date and ALWAYS book an appointment before travelling for a test.

What is ‘Test & Trace’?

The NHS test and trace service will get in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had, so that it can alert those contacts where necessary, and notify them if they need to self-isolate.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, medical advice is clear: you must self-isolate for at least 10 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. 

If your test is positive - you must complete the remainder of your 10-day self-isolation. Anyone who you live with must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. 

If your test is negative - you and others who you live with no longer need to self-isolate. If you live with someone who has symptoms of Coronavirus or has tested positive, you should self isolate for 14 days and report this to us through the absence/sickness reporting procedure (see this further information for guidance on when to self-isolate and for how long).  

Please remember to fill in the Absence & Illness Reporting Form again after receiving a Covid-19 test result and report positive or negative test results by email to healthupdates@pca.ac.uk. Click here for more information from the NHS about what positive, negative or unclear test results mean.

Current government advice is that people who are pregnant, or over the age of 70, or who have medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to Covid-19 may be at a heightened risk. If you think this applies to you or have any concerns, please email health@pca.ac.uk.

Find out more with our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs

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