As the college prepares to reopen in September 2020, please see below for our answers to most frequently asked questions.
What safety procedures will be implemented in case of an overseas arrival?
Our students can travel from Heathrow airport by individual taxis with mask-wearing DBS-checked drivers. These are free of charge for students that opt in for guardianship service, otherwise £75 fee applies. Students will be provided with full PPE equipment free of charge. Upon arrival, all students will be asked to self-isolate in their rooms and tested for COVID-19. £120 fee applies per test; students can be re-tested upon request. Self-isolation will last 14 days (if the measures still apply by then; see timeline on page 11). Any student that tests positive will be taken to a different self-isolation unit in Oxford where they will be cared for by the college. They will also be asked to download the NHS tracing app (if appropriate).
How will you care for self-isolating students?
Whilst in self isolation, we will take each student’s temperature twice a day. Each student will receive a weekly snack pack and have weekly shopping deliveries. Meals will be delivered to boarding residences three times a day.
How will the college ensure that all people in the building are COVID-19-free?
We will test all staff (tutors, administrative staff, house parents, catering staff etc.) one week prior to the return of students. Any staff member that tests positive will be asked to self-isolate and then re-test before returning to work. We will also use a thermoimaging temperature scanner in all our teaching premises to check every building user's temperature daily on each arrival at the college (both student and staff). If students feel they have a fever in the morning, they can identify themselves to staff and have the temperature test in their room.
What about cleaning and hygiene?
Detailed cleaning protocols are an essential preventative measure; additional and more frequent cleaning will be taking place, using the most suitable cleaning products and paying particular attention to bathrooms, door handles, light switches, banisters, etc. We are risk-assessing all aspects of college life to minimise shared resources and, where sharing of resources may be required (e.g. college computers or water stations) putting measures in place to mitigate risk (e.g. encouraging student and staff to use their own laptops and devices, as well as bring pre-filled water bottles into college).
Has the school prepared PPE or testing kits that could be used by pupils and staff?
We will have sanitisation stations and PPE gear available at all boarding residences, teaching premises, and dining rooms. Students will get daily masks from either their residences or teaching premises. Staff and students will wear face visors, and we will test all staff before returning to school. Every student with a reasonable suspicion of being COVID-19-positive will have access to both a test and a self-isolation unit. Although this is not a part of the current guidance, there is an expectation for our students and staff to be wearing face mask or covering and face visors.
What measures have been implemented to keep the premises of the college safe?
To make it easier to maintain distance, the college has acquired more teaching and boarding space for this year. Where possible, all public space will have one-way walking routes with markings and social distancing notices in all public spaces. For specific cleaning and hygiene strategies see previous question.
How will social distancing be implemented?
Social distancing will be observed. We will have smaller class sizes wherever possible, and one-way marked system implemented on corridors. We are also looking at creating small student bubbles based on academic, career, and boarding groups (if possible), where students will be living, learning, and socialising together. Meal times will be staggered and tables divided with perspex screens. There will be no visitors allowed in the college until it is safe; we may also ask students to bring in fewer belongings as to not spread the virus via surfaces. We have also acquired another teaching block and boarding house for social distancing purposes.
What about people outside the community that enter the premises?
We will carefully manage the number of people on site at any one time and take all precautions to ensure that those arriving on site are healthy. Any visits to the college, including visits from parents and families, will have to be scheduled in advance. There will be a separate entrance for all essential visitors, who will be isolated until a temperature check is taken. The tours and visits to the college will be suspended until it is safe to resume them. In the meantime, students and parents will have access to the video-tour of the college. We will also wait three days until relaying any incoming post to the students as to make it virus-free.
Will the college run awareness campaigns relating to COVID-19?
An education programme will be delivered for students and staff upon arrival by an experienced healthcare professional. We will also hold counselling sessions for all students in case of any questions or concerns.
Do students have access to in-house health professionals on site?
Students will have access to in-house health care professionals who will provide the highest standard of medical care and make sure that the college community stays safe. Our boarding students are registered with a medical practice only a short distance from the college and the GPs at this practice provide us with prompt advice and support if we need it. The doctors and nurses there continue to be available for medical consultations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Students will also be able to take out a private health insurance and have access to private health professionals and clinics in Oxford.
Is Oxford a safe place to be during the pandemic?
Safer than most – we have access to world-class specialist medical care, including Oxford University’s teaching site John Radcliffe Hospital. This houses Oxfordshire’s main accident and emergency site and is also home to many research initiatives – including testing of a Covid-19 vaccine. The doctors and nurses at all hospitals in Oxford continue to be available for medical consultations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
What is the contingency plans if our students are unable to travel in September?
Since our online learning has been a success, we believe that we can offer both on-site and remote learning simultaneously. Remote learning will be available until students are ready to arrive, and we will make sure to provide alternative learning provision so students enjoy effective teaching and impactful learning. No student, whether on-site or remote, will be put at a disadvantage.
How will meals be managed?
Meal times will be staggered and tables divided with perspex screens. There will be both hot and cold option available per meal.
If I have to arrive earlier for quarantine, will there be any extra charge for boarding?
Students should not arrive earlier before the official quarantine dates set by the college. There is no charge for the quarantine period including the meals.
How will social areas be managed?
We are assessing the social areas on each site, both for students and for staff. For as long as the social distancing measures are in place, we need to risk-assess the (usual) benefit of shared areas for socialising with the risk of contamination via shared soft furnishings, etc. For example, in the short term, we would need to store larger pieces of furniture and soft furnishings in shared areas to create more open space which could be used more flexibly.
Will the boarders who don’t live in boarding houses within walking distance from school have to take the bus?
All students that don’t live within walking distance will be provided transport by the college. Social distancing measures will apply as necessary.
Will there be any gatherings or social events?
Where possible, we will conduct all larger events virtually until it is safe to do otherwise.
Will there be any option to stay over half terms and other school holidays?
The boarding houses are already open throughout half term and Easter holidays. We are also looking into the possibility of keeping them open throughout Christmas break if necessary.
What will happen if an international student is not able to arrive to the UK in time for the start of term?
They will study our full remote programme and travel to the UK as soon as they can.
How would the school offer education support for international students should there be a resurgence after September?
Depending on circumstances, we would provide a combination of face-to-face teaching and our remote learning programme.
How does COVID-19 affect teenagers?
While no-one is truly immune to the dangers posed by COVID-19, teenagers within the age group cared for by our college are in the lowest risk of all. It According to Imperial College London research, only 0.3% of symptomatic COVID-19 cases in ages 10-19 required hospitalisation. Between the low risk and the prudent precautions taken by the college, we believe that we can offer our students a safe environment to learn and socialise.
I have a question that is not listed here. Who do I contact?
Please reach out to OIC Admissions (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Student Services (email@example.com).
Please also watch our Back to School: Health and Safety video to get a glance at what we're doing.