How to handle student cases and isolation in face-to-face-teaching events

How do we decide who needs to isolate after a positive case is confirmed in a teaching event?

The COVID Response Team (CRT) in liaising with the student, the relevant school and local public health colleagues will make an informed decision based on information of close contacts within the teaching session.  Anyone in close contact will then be contacted via email by the CRT with a requirement to self-isolate.  The College COVID inbox will be copied into that email. If close contacts cannot be definitively identified, all participants in that teaching event may be asked to self-isolate. The process is the same for laboratory and non-laboratory teaching events.

How is the definition of close contact applied in teaching events to confirm the need to self-isolate?

Anyone who falls within a two-metre radius of the person who is COVID positive and was in contact for over 15 minutes will constitute a close contact. The definition being used in our COVID Cases on Campus Procedures is the same as the Government guidance.

Does the COVID risk assessment for buildings and teaching events minimise the risk for unnecessary self-isolation?

We have developed a series of risk assessments (Sharepoint link) to ensure face-to-face teaching can continue in a COVID secure environment.

The risk assessments, with their associated controls minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

In the event that a student or member of staff tests positive for COVID, it is important that we can identify the seating arrangements for each individual lesson, as this can mitigate the need to require the whole class to self-isolate. We are currently finalising an updated process for recording seating arrangements, and this will be confirmed next week.

Do COVID safe measures in teaching spaces minimise the potential to self-isolate if there is a positive case confirmed?

Yes, but they do not eradicate the possibility.

For laboratory teaching events with COVID safe measure and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) in place, do I still need to isolate if there is a positive case confirmed?

This will be contextual, and self-isolation may still be required, but as with the above answer, COVID safe measures minimise the risk. In such cases, advice to students and staff to isolate will be via the COVID Response Team, based in turn on the advice of public health authorities, as it will also depend on the nature of the PPE being used. Schools should contact the COVID Response Team if they have any queries on studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk or 0116 252 2300

How often will bookable academic office be sanitised?

The rooms are cleaned once a day and the touch points (e.g. door handles) 3 times a day. The rooms have sanitiser stations in them or close by, which provide hand sanitiser, disinfectant spray, gloves and blue towel. These are checked daily for supplies. Staff are also given cleaning wipes and are asked to sanitise before and after use.

Under what circumstances do student households need to self-isolate?

  1. If someone in a household has symptoms or has tested positive, then the whole household needs to isolate (and all fill in the online form) for 14 days (10 days for anyone with a positive test).
  2. Someone in the household has been defined as having close contact with someone (who is not in their household) who is symptomatic and/or has tested positive. The individual who has had the close contact needs to isolate (and fill in the online form). They should tell their household they are isolating and should try and stay away from the rest of the household. They should sanitise any common areas after they use them and they should wear their face covering outside of their room. The household should sanitise any common areas before they use them. The rest of the household does not need to isolate, unless the individual who had the close contact develops symptoms and/or tests positive.
  3. Someone in the household, who may have been defined as having close contact with someone outside the household, has tested negative. They will need to follow advice given by NHS test-and-trace, but it is likely that they will need to continue to self-isolate for the remainder of the 14 day period, keeping themselves away from the rest of the household. The rest of the household does not need to isolate.

How are students isolating recorded for teaching events?

Once the school receives notification that students are self isolating then the expectation is that the school will contact the student regarding their teaching provision, including attendance at replacement online events where appropriate, which may include asynchronous events/activities, or simulcasting (please refer to that guidance). Students not attending in-person events due to self-isolation should be recorded as authorised absences in the Attendance Management System as normal.

What is the process for ending self-isolation and returning to teaching and learning for staff and students?

Students will be contacted by the COVID response team, towards the end of the isolation period and asked whether their status has changed.  If their status has not changed, we expect them to return to engagement with teaching events at the end of their isolation period (10 for those with a positive test or 14 days for all others). Schools will also be informed via the College COVID mailboxes each time a student receives this contact at the end of their isolation period.

If students are unclear about their isolation period, they should be following NHS test and trace advice or can make contact with the COVID Response Team Team on studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk or 0116 252 2300.

Can a student stop self-isolating if they tested negative? 

There are two pieces of Government advice relating to testing negative and stopping self-isolation.  The key is if they were told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace directly.

Advice 1 – You were told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

  • keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who has coronavirus – as you could get symptoms after being tested
  • anyone you live with can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
  • anyone in your support bubble can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
  • full details at nhs.uk link

Advice 2 – You are self-isolating and had a test as you were symptomatic  

You do not need to self-isolate, as long as:

In what timeframe are schools informed about students who are isolating?

In cases where students have tested positive, this will normally be communicated to schools within 24 hours, with the report forms being reviewed twice daily, including weekends.

In cases where students have potentially had close contact and may need to self-isolate, this will normally be communicated within 48 hours, due to the need to take public health advice regarding the context of the case.

What should staff do if they have concerns about the spacing in teaching rooms?

The majority of teaching rooms have been laid out to be COVID-secure at 1m+. Some rooms have been laid out with spacing larger than 1m, where other mitigations such as ventilation were insufficient or where room design prevented us from working at 1m+. Health and Safety/ventilation checks have been conducted in each teaching space by the health and safety team on the basis of government guidance, and COVID-secure capacities have been established for each individual room in use. The timetabling team are adhering to the COVID-secure capacities determined by the health and safety team. The capacities are displayed in the rooms and on the rooms directory so if any staff have concerns that there are too many people, they can check the head-count against the displayed information. The numbers displayed in the rooms directory are for the maximum number of students, so Lecturing staff are in addition. You are asked to refrain from changing room layouts, or adding additional furniture into teaching spaces.

If staff feel that 1m spacing is compromised in the layout of any teaching room, they should inform the health and safety team generalsafety@le.ac.uk