Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for further education
Guidance has been developed to assist learners returning to Further Education to safely welcome them back on-site.
Advice for students in Further Education
This guidance can be found at this link Framework for the safe resumption of on-site educational provision
Additional guidance specific to training in close contact subjects can be found at: Addendum: Framework for the safe resumption of on-site educational provision
Further education colleges
Further Education colleges can return to full face-to-face teaching for all learners. Face coverings will still be required on campus. Colleges will continue to adhere to all relevant government issued guidance.
Students with symptoms of coronavirus
If you have coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate. Under no circumstances should you attend college, but you should continue your studies from home if you are able to do so.
You should arrange to get tested as soon as possible.
Close contacts of COVID-19
If you’re a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolation and testing requirements will depend on whether you’re fully vaccinated, your age and where you work.
A close contact can be:
- anyone who lives in the same household as someone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19
- anyone who has had any of the following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 with a PCR test:
- face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
- skin-to-skin physical contact for any length of time
- been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
- sexual contacts
- been within two metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day)
- travelled in the same vehicle or a plane
Aged 18 and over and not fully vaccinated
If you are aged 18 and over, but not fully vaccinated, you should self-isolate for 10 days following last contact with the positive person.
You will be asked to take a PCR but, even if this is negative, you still need to complete the isolation period.
If you are not able to be vaccinated for a clinical reason, you should complete a period of self-isolation for the full 10 days, even if you receive a negative PCR test result.
Fully vaccinated close contacts
Since 16 August, if you are fully vaccinated (more than 14 days since you received the second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine), you do not need to self-isolate for 10 days if someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for COVID-19.
You should get a PCR test on day two and day eight of the 10-day period following last contact with the positive person.
If the PCR test is positive, whether or not you have symptoms, you should complete a period of 10 days self-isolation from the day you first had symptoms, or the day the test was taken if there were no symptoms.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated, if you have been identified as a close contact, you are advised not to visit hospitals or care homes for 10 days and to minimise contact with those known to be at higher risk if they contract COVID-19, such as the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Group (CEV) for 10 days.
Young people (aged five to 17)
Young people (aged five to 17) who are not fully vaccinated and are identified as a close contacts should self-isolate and book a PCR test as soon as possible.
If the PCR test is negative, they can end their self-isolation and should arrange to take another PCR test eight days after the last known contact.
If the young person who is a close contact develops symptoms at any time they should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test, even if the earlier PCR tests were negative.
If any of the PCR tests are positive, this means they have the infection and they should self-isolate for 10 days, in line with advice for confirmed cases.
Student finance and support
Educational Maintenance Allowance
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and cannot complete your work, you should contact your school or college and let them know. They may be able to provide you with advice and other support.
If there are further school or college closures during the academic year 2020/2021 due to COVID-19, EMA support will continue for eligible students on condition that they will be continuing their studies via online learning provision.
Self-isolation due to COVID-19 can be deemed an authorised absence for the purposes of EMA, in which case EMA support would continue to be payable.
Free school meals
Additional money has been allocated to fund the direct payment of free school meal allowances for eligible school-age further education students, this arrangement will continue for term 2 and will be reviewed in advance of term 3.
Further to this, households of further education students eligible for free school meals will receive holiday payments during college holidays from Christmas 2020 to Easter 2022.
Support for students in financial hardship
There are a range of permanent student financial support arrangements that have been in place over many years for eligible students. These include FE Grants and College Hardship Fund. Advice should be sought in the first instance from the student support manager in your college.
Maintenance support for students who change accommodation
If your circumstances have changed and you’ll now be living at home with parents rather than in your own accommodation, you’ll need to update your living location details in your online account at www.studentfinanceni.co.uk. You’ll also need to update your details if you were supposed to be studying abroad this year but will now be staying in the UK to study online with your overseas provider.
As part of your student finance agreement, you must keep Student Finance NI up to date with where you’ll be living each term, as this may affect how much you have to repay and when.
Mental health support for students
All the Further Education (FE) colleges have in place a range of support measures aimed at promoting the health and wellbeing of students by providing access to appropriate guidance, support and counselling services. Students should refer to their Student Handbook for the contact details of their college student support officer.
Your mental health and wellbeing is important. Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time of life and in different ways. There is a range of conditions that can affect mental health. There is also a range of mental health services that can provide help and support. Further information can be found at the link below:
If you have concerns about whether your FE college is keeping its nursery open, you should contact your college in the first instance for advice.
The Department for the Economy is currently examining the implications of the current situation for the childcare element of an FE grant; assistance for childcare through the Care to Learn/Hardship Fund, and hopes to be in a position to provide advice very soon.
Work placements for FE students
Awarding organisations are working on adaptations to their qualifications to ensure learners can receive their awards as normal. Qualifications that involve work placements will be part of this. However, for some qualifications work placements may be essential and your school/college will be able to advise you as to any adaptations that may be made.