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Michaelmas Teaching Update

Lateral Flow Testing at NCH

FAQ’s About Mass Testing in Schools and Colleges

FAQ’s About Lateral Flow Antigen Tests

COVID-19 Daily Statistics

You will find information on the number of positive COVID-19 test cases for the New College of the Humanities community below. 

The numbers include all results from staff and students that have been reported to us. The figures are updated daily and on a Monday, we update the weekly figures.

Daily new cases 0

Weekly cases 10

Total cases 54

Data accurate: Monday, 6 December 2021

Michaelmas 2021 Teaching Update

We expect to be starting the next academic year on Saturday 18th September 2021, at the College’s new home at Devon House, St Katharine Docks, with a welcome event, followed by what we hope will be a hugely successful Freshers’ and Welcome Back week.

Our space within Devon House is over six times the size of our current building and is currently undergoing construction to deliver an exceptional teaching and learning environment, with state of the art facilities.

The refurbishment of Devon House delivers increased measures to ensure proper ventilation and to introduce air exchange and filter measures that are above the required regulations. These measures eliminate any need to open windows for ventilation or temperature adjustments.

A new Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) system has been installed to increase the amount of outside air circulating within. This system will work together with the existing building system to provide two air changes per hour.

We will continue to update you on developments over the coming months and are excited to welcome you to the new building when you return from the summer break.

Our plan is to recommence face-to-face teaching for the College’s undergraduate and postgraduate academic timetable. In addition to face-to-face teaching, students will be able to access, via Canvas, a wide range of online tools and resources to support and enhance their learning, including expanded faculty drop-in hours via Zoom.

On the happenstance that a member of Faculty receives notification that they need to self-isolate, as per government guidelines, the member of Faculty will be unable to provide face-to-face teaching and teaching will be issued via Zoom instead, where possible. Students will also be required to attend teaching via Zoom if they are notified that they need to self-isolate.

We will continue to be guided by the UK government’s regulations and sector best practices alongside our goal of providing an outstanding educational experience to our students. If any changes become necessary, we will let you know of any updates to the plan by email, on our website and on Canvas.

Lateral Flow Testing at NCH

Should I have the Covid-19 vaccination?

We encourage all staff and students to have their vaccine when they are eligible.

Lateral Flow Testing

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 it is recommended by the UK Government that all staff and students take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week (every 3-4 days). Staff and students are able to collect LFD tests from the College Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. Tests are available to collect from First Point.

Q: How many tests can I collect?

A: You can collect a pack of 7 LFD tests at any one time.

Q: Can I pick up for another staff member/student?

A: Yes, you can pick up for another staff / student although you will need to provide their contact details which will be added to a test kit log.

Q: Can I pick up for my friends/family?

No, these are only available for NCH members.

Q: How will know how to take the test?

A: The self-test instructions are provided in the test pack.

Q: Do I need to register the results?

A: Yes you need to register your results here every time you complete a test. The College code to add is BMKL

Q: What will happen if my test result is negative?

A: If the test result is negative, you can continue to carry on as normal.

Q: What if the test result is positive?

A: If you test positive, you need to self-isolate and arrange to have a PCR test which can be done here.

It is much quicker to go to a test site than order an at home PCR test. You must, by law, self-isolate for 10 days from the date of this test. If the PCR test comes back positive you should be contacted by NHS test and trace.

Please also complete the Student Absence Reporting (self-isolating and COVID-related) form.

Q: What happens if my LFD result cannot be read? 

It is likely there was an error when you took the test, so you need to take another. If this can’t be read please book to have a PCR test.

Q: If you test positive on the first lateral flow test do you need a second?

A: If you have recently (within 90 days) tested positive for COVID-19, a repeat LFD test is unlikely to be necessary within this period. If having recently tested positive for COVID-19, you choose to have an LFD test as part of this programme, please ensure the LFD test is not taken whilst still within the period of isolation following the last confirmed test. If symptoms [other than a cough or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell] persist, this could be longer than the normal 10-day self-isolation period for confirmed cases. This is described in Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Q: What happens if my sample cannot be read? If we can’t read the sample it means it’s not possible to say if you were infectious when the test was done.

A: You’ll need to take the same test again as soon as possible. If this is the second time you’ve got this result, you’ll need to book a different test – follow the advice you were given when you were tested or go to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.

About the mass testing in schools and colleges programme

Q: What is the government current policy for testing students? Who owns the policy? Is it likely to change according to the infection rate?

A: This is a specific programme to test new technology on individuals who don’t have any symptoms, but who could still spread the virus to others. The Government has set out its priority groups for testing on the GOV.UK website. Asymptomatic students (who don’t have any symptoms) are not currently a priority group for symptomatic PCR (polymerise chain reaction) testing, but they are one of the groups covered by the new testing technology for those without symptoms.

Q: Why are you telling students to get tested even if they are asymptomatic but telling other people to only get tested if they have symptoms?

A: The lateral flow testing programme does not replace current testing policy for those with symptoms. This is a new technology to identify individuals who don’t have any symptoms, but who may be asymptomatic carriers and therefore could still spread the virus to others.

This technology will help the Government to better understand where to best use Lateral Flow tests and how they can be operationalised in the real world to protect those at high risk, find the virus and help enable us to go back to as normal a way of life as possible.

Q: Will the existing testing service remain open?

A: The Government’s normal testing service for symptomatic individuals will continue. This is the foundation of our testing strategy. It is the most effective way to know if you are positive and need to self-isolate. Even if you take part in Lateral Flow testing, if you have symptoms, you should continue to book a test via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Q: Are tests compulsory?

A: Tests are not compulsory. However, students and staff who experience COVID-19 symptoms must follow government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Q: Why should I get tested if I have no symptoms?

A: Lateral flow test is designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms (they are asymptomatic), but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others. By taking a test, you will help to stop the spread of the virus, protect other people and save lives.

Q: Why would I take the test? If positive I’ll have to self-isolate. Why would I take the risk?

A: It is of the utmost importance that we all do our bit to stop the spread of the virus and protect other members of society. Participating in the test will help our country fight the pandemic and save lives. Self-isolation, whilst disruptive for those affected, is an essential part of the fight against the virus.

About lateral flow antigen tests

Q: I’m confused: how many different types of tests are out there and what’s the difference between them?

A: There are two main types of test used to check if people currently have coronavirus.

The first type of test is known as a PCR test and looks for the virus’s genetic material (Ribonucleic acid or RNA). These tests are currently more commonly used in the NHS for symptomatic testing. They require a laboratory to be processed.

The second is called a lateral flow antigen test, which detects the coronavirus antigen that is produced when a person is infectious with coronavirus. These are quicker tests, that produce a result within 30 minutes and do not require a laboratory to be processed. This is the test that is currently being offered in this programme.

Q: Is the test safe?

A: Lateral flow tests are validated technology, they are safe and the results are trusted. These tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation including at Public Health England’s research laboratories to ensure they are verified for use.

Q: How accurate is the test?

A: Lateral flow tests are very accurate (highly specific), which means that only a very small proportion of people who do not have coronavirus will receive a positive result (false positive). However, in mass testing, because so many people without symptoms are being tested there is still the possibility of getting a false-positive result. Therefore, a confirmatory PCR test is recommended to make sure the result is correct.

Q: Why do we need confirmatory testing if LFTs are so accurate?

A: It has been recommended that a confirmatory test is taken for asymptomatic testing as a precautionary measure given the potential for small cases of false positives. Extensive clinical evaluation shows lateral flow tests are accurate and sensitive. By using confirmatory testing, we can better assess the role and scope of Lateral Flow testing and help to further drive down the prevalence of the virus..

Q: Why are you using lower sensitivity tests? What does that mean?

A: Although they give a result much more quickly, the lateral flow tests are not as sensitive as the PCR tests. This is mitigated by testing people regularly, because the more times someone with the disease is tested, the more likely they are to be picked up by the test.

This also means that if you test positive on a lateral flow test, it is likely that you are infectious at that moment, whereas people testing positive on the PCR test could be in the less infectious early or late stages of disease.

Q: Will it replace existing testing technology?

A: At present, the new testing technologies are intended to complement, not replace existing testing technology for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms. The Government is testing a wide range of technologies which we hope can be deployed in time.

Latest Hilary Teaching Update

The UK Government has restricted in person teaching at universities to a list of “exempt courses”. Students on other courses are to stay where they are and start their term online. These restrictions became English law on 6 January and will last until at least mid-February 2021. The College does not teach any of the “exempt courses”.

As a result, all of the College’s teaching will take place online until after Hilary Term’s Reading Week (February 22nd-26th) at the earliest.

Our students and staff should stay where they are currently, wherever possible, and not return to London.

If you remained in London over the winter break or have already returned, you should stay here and not travel home or elsewhere again.

We know this is disappointing news and may cause you some concerns. However, as you know, our faculty organised this year’s teaching to be engaging and to enable you to achieve all of your learning outcomes, whether in-person or online. Overall student feedback has been positive so far; we will be building on that experience, and our faculty are well prepared for online delivery to continue successfully during Hilary.

We will be contacting each student individually in order to understand your specific requirements or concerns. Please do take the time to speak with us, so that we can offer the right study and wellbeing support for you.

For further information on your courses please contact Student & Academic Services, or if you need wellbeing support, our Wellbeing Team are here for you.

We remain committed to returning to in-person teaching at the earliest opportunity. However, we want to be open and honest with you, and while we hope to return to hybrid or in-person teaching after Reading Week, it is possible that we may need to extend online-only teaching until the end of Hilary, as a result of the pandemic. We will continue to monitor the situation, regularly review our plans and will communicate with you accordingly in a timely manner.

We very much look forward to seeing you again in person when we emerge from this phase of the pandemic. You have demonstrated remarkable resilience and commitment to your studies throughout this pandemic. We ask that you persevere for the coming weeks to build upon your academic progress.

The next few weeks will be challenging, but the UK’s vaccination programme is now in progress, and we can be optimistic about the future. Thank you again for your resilience, your support for each other and for your dedication and commitment to your studies.

What additional support is the College providing to students during Hilary?

The College’s Student & Academic Services and Wellbeing Team will continue to support students with their studies throughout the term as usual.

In addition to these activities, the College is introducing further support for students in the form of:

  • We will be phoning every current student in January to check-in and to understand how we can support you personally through this challenging time.
  • A self-isolation hardship fund has been established to provide support in the form of grants if you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the need to self-isolate.
  • A series of remote wellbeing events including Zoom T’ai Chi will be scheduled
  • You can drop into your Faculty’s Virtual Common Room (linked on your Faculty Canvas page) to catch up with other students before or after class
  • Online Faculty office hours are available for study support (linked on your Faculty Canvas page) if you would like further academic support
  • Additional specific information about support and ideas of how to thrive not just survive during lockdown will be sent in our regular emails on Mondays and Thursdays, please be sure to read these so that you do not miss out on vital information.

How will my teaching be delivered and what will my timetable be?

The UK Government has restricted in person teaching at universities to a list of “exempt courses”. Students on other courses are to stay where they are and start their term online. These restrictions are English law and will last until at least mid-February 2021. The College does not teach any of the “exempt courses”. As a result, all of the College’s teaching will take place online until after Hilary Term’s Reading Week (February 22nd-26th) at the earliest.

You will find your timetable on Celcat and your online learning materials in Canvas.

What provision is there for students who are now studying overseas and in a different time zone to the UK?

We are working to support students who are currently living overseas and who are in time zones that may compromise their ability to attend live online lectures and teaching sessions. Where possible, we will try to reschedule teaching, within reason, taking into account both student and faculty time zones and working environments. 

If you are living overseas, please complete this form to advise the College of your location and time zone. 

Recordings of lectures will also be made available to be watched at convenient times. Please email your lecturer and Lee Fenwick to let them know when you have watched a recorded session so that you can be marked as present.

Am I allowed to travel home?

Our students and staff should stay where they are currently, wherever possible.

Easter Travel Exemption for University Students

The UK government has confirmed that University students in England can return to their family homes over the Easter break. Updated Department for Education (DfE) guidance also says that international students will also be allowed to travel home during the holidays.

Students taking advantage of this travel exemption, which will last from March 8th until April 29th, are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test before leaving and returning to their student accommodation.

The government guidance strongly advises students to remain in their term-time accommodation and keep travel to a minimum where possible in order to reduce the risk of transmission around the country, but acknowledges that the exemptions are in place for those who must return for mental health and wellbeing reasons.

International Travel

All students returning from overseas will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival and book and pay for a travel test package which will include a test at the start and end of the quarantine period. Students coming from a country on the red list will have to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel which will cost £1,750. Furthermore, students coming from red list countries will not be eligible for the Test to Release scheme.

Where to get a COVID-19 Test

You can find out about community testing locations here.

Will I be able to come and study on campus?

Due to the lockdown restrictions and following consultation with the student representatives, there are no current plans to open the College’s building for independent study. Should you be in London and experiencing difficulties with studying in your current accommodation, please contact Student Wellbeing or discuss this when a member of staff calls you to check in.

Will this affect visa students?

On the basis of advice issued by the UK Visa and Immigration service, Tier 4 students are permitted to move to an on-line delivery of their programme. International students who require a Tier 4 visa to study at the College will be contacted by the College’s Tier 4 Team.

What should I do if I am feeling anxious?

Student & Academic Services and Student Wellbeing are here for you. Please contact them should you need assistance with your student experience or wellbeing. You can contact SAS on sas@nchlondon.ac.uk and Student Wellbeing on studentwellbeing@nchlondon.ac.uk or you can contact either team by phone on 020 4504 0179.

We are also in regular contact with our recommended housing providers and are working closely with them to ensure your safety and wellbeing is of primary concern. We ask all students to keep in touch with us and to update your contact details if they change.

How can I make the most of online learning?

  • Access your course Canvas pages regularly to prepare before class and catch up on anything you miss.
  • Keep your camera on during Zoom sessions if possible (choose a background in your Zoom settings if you like).
  • Drop into your Faculty’s Virtual Common Room (linked on your Faculty Canvas page) to catch up with other students before/after class.
  • Let your tutor/lecturer know if you find the materials too heavy or the pace of delivery too fast or slow (others may be finding the same).
  • Attend Faculty office hours (linked on your Faculty Canvas page) if you would like further academic support.
  • See the Online Learning Hub for detailed online-specific learning advice.

When will I get the COVID-19 Vaccination?

The Vaccine is currently being rolled out by age groups and vulnerability to the virus, so it may be some time before you’re contacted to get yours.

To receive your vaccine you must be registered with a GP, register now if you haven’t to avoid any potential delays.

Please be aware that there are some COVID-19 related scams being perpetrated. Police are highlighting that criminals are using fake NHS notifications to try an obtain money and personal information.

  • The NHS does not require any payment to either register for a vaccination or to receive one and there is no fast-track service or other legitimate mechanism to get early access to the jab.  Any email, text or letter that asks for a payment for a vaccination will be fraudulent.
  • The NHS does not require you to provide proof of identity to get a vaccination. You should be registered with a GP and they will have all your details and will not need anything further from you when they contact you to make an appointment for your vaccination. Any email or text asking you to upload an identity document to register for a vaccination will be fraudulent.

Can I travel home for Easter?

The UK government has confirmed that University students in England can return to their family homes over the Easter break. Updated Department for Education (DfE) guidance also says that international students will also be allowed to travel home during the holidays.

Students taking advantage of this travel exemption, which will last from March 8th until April 29th, are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test before leaving and returning to their student accommodation.

The government guidance strongly advises students to remain in their term-time accommodation and keep travel to a minimum where possible in order to reduce the risk of transmission around the country, but acknowledges that the exemptions are in place for those who must return for mental health and wellbeing reasons.

International Travel

All students returning from overseas will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival and book and pay for a travel test package which will include a test at the start and end of the quarantine period. Students coming from a country on the red list will have to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel which will cost £1,750. Furthermore, students coming from red list countries will not be eligible for the Test to Release scheme.

Where to get a COVID-19 Test

You can find out about community testing locations here.

What information and advice has the College considered in its planning?

The College is continually monitoring the development of the COVID-19 pandemic. We consider a range of factors in our planning and the decisions we make relating to it. These include – but are not limited to – guidance from the UK government, Public Health England and the NHS, Northeastern University, and best-practice among peer institutions in the UK, including those in the local area, combined with logistical requirements and operational continuity.

How will any changes to the plan be communicated?

We will communicate any changes through the College’s usual communications channels, including email, CruNCH, NCHLondon.ac.uk, and in the case of urgent messages, via SMS. With that in mind, we remind staff to ensure that PeopleHR has their correct mobile phone number, and to check their NCH email regularly.