National lockdown to come into force on Wednesday 6 January
The Prime Minister announced yesterday that a new national lockdown will come into force at 00:01 on Wednesday 6 January.
During the period of national lockdown, Hereford College of Arts will remain open to vulnerable students and the students of critical workers only. All other students will learn remotely until February half term.
Our HE programmes will remain online until mid-February and students will not be able to access the campus except as regulation allows in a small number of exceptional cases.
All students should regularly check college email for further updates.
All students are reminded that they can contact the college for support with wellbeing through the Wellbeing button on Student Net. No wellbeing issue is too big or small if it is concerning you then let us know so that we can help or point you in the right direction of someone who can.
4 January 2021
The Folly Campus will be open for staff, and a minority of students with particular needs such as EHCP plans this week, but all other students will start their term remotely from Tuesday January 5. We will work out a phased return for face-to-face teaching through the following week beginning January 11. Staff will be in contact with the small number of students who can access campus from the start of term.
31 December 2020
Yesterday the government made a number of headline education announcements that have a major impact on the start of the term across schools, colleges and universities. We have now received more detail around the changes. I am truly sorry for the further disruption this will cause, but as you will all be aware, the pandemic has entered a particularly challenging phase. Urgent new measures are being put in to help reduce the risk of further infection and deaths as the vaccines are rolled out.
What this means for HCA’s degree programmes:
The HE campus will be open for staff, but the government is asking institutions to suspend face-to-face teaching at degree level until 25 January (with a review period on 18 January) and to restrict any student access to campus to a very small number of exceptions.
The government is very keen to limit any further student travel and asks residential students who have not already returned to their term-time accommodation to stay in their vacation accommodation if they can until the start of on-campus teaching. We appreciate some of you may have already travelled or may be unable to change plans and we’re not asking you to travel again if this is the case.
I know this will be hugely disappointing for you, as it is for staff, but as we have throughout this most difficult year of pandemic, we will work with you to find ways to keep your learning on track and to support wellbeing. This will involve the staff teams taking a detailed look next week at all the current plans and how we can redesign them in the light of these new restrictions.
The government has made it very clear that it does not consider face-to-face teaching at degree level in itself a Covid risk. Indeed, there have been very few cases nationally of any infection through face-to-face teaching at degree level. Still, they are concerned about any travel and other social contacts during this critical period of the pandemic.
Lateral Flow Testing for Covid
I am very sorry that this means the lateral flow testing organised for returning degree students on Monday 4 January and Tuesday 5 January will now be postponed until we can give you full campus access again. This is particularly disappointing given the high degree of engagement and positivity about the pilot that you have shown. However, we will rearrange the testing programme and hope to be able to offer an on-going facility to test ‘close contacts’ in future to reduce the risk of your needing to self-isolate and further disruption once you are back on campus.
This is not the start to 2021 we would have wished for, but tough measures now will help keep us and the wider community safe. As a college community, you have shown huge resilience, creativity, and ability to achieve despite exceptional circumstances over the last year. We will tackle this new challenge together. I know you may have many questions and concerns and we are expecting further regulatory detail from the government on Monday. Course teams and other staff will work with you to ensure we can keep you learning remotely, and we will keep sharing information and answers to queries as we work out how best to support you in your different environments, when staff are back at work next week.
Although this is a challenging start, we have so much to look forward to and to be optimistic about for 2021, please enjoy the new year as best you can.
23 December 2020
As you will be aware there have been a number of government announcements over the last few days about the start of the new term for schools and colleges, with regard to the possible staggering of the start of face to face teaching and learning for some school and college students, and the roll out of Covid testing for schools and colleges.
Having considered the guidance, and in particular the expectations regarding student groups with end of year qualifications to work towards, we are planning to start face to face teaching on campus from the first week back, although we are staggering the on campus start for some groups through the week as follows:
Return on Wednesday 6 January
Students have been emailed the timetable for their group returns
Given the very volatile situation with regard to the development of the pandemic nationally we will continue to review the position and cannot rule out further changes, so we are asking you to check college emails again and keep an eye on this section of the website in the New Year for further updates.
We are currently working with the Herefordshire Outbreak Control Hub on a pilot mass testing of our degree students on our College Road Campus in the first week of January. All degree students, whether or not they are local or returning to residential accommodation, have been asked to take the test to keep the college community as safe as possible. Time slots have been emailed to degree students HCA student email address.
The testing of our degree students will give us valuable insight into how we might implement testing at Folly Lane. We will share an update at the beginning of term and thank you for your patience and understanding as we work this out.
Testing will be an additional measure to help prevent the spread of infection but social distancing, hand cleaning, wearing face coverings and keeping work spaces clean will remain absolutely central to the battle against Covid.
18 December 2020
January Return to Campus
The government has made a number of recent announcements concerning the start of the January term which apply to differently to different student groups.
We can confirm that degree teaching will start again as planned on Wednesday 6 January. We are offering all degree students Covid testing immediately before and will confirm details shortly by email and with updates on this site.
The FE term for students based at our Folly Lane campus is due to start with face to face teaching on campus on Tuesday 5 January. We are reviewing the new guidance and will update students and parents by email and on this by Thursday 24 December on any changes in plan.
Residential students, whether studying on pre-degree or degree courses in a College setting as you are, are now not required to take a test before travelling for Christmas.
However, there are still important guidelines to follow:
For BA students face to face teaching must finish by 9 December.
Students who wish to travel are asked to travel by 9 December (please note that no one can travel before the end of the current Lockdown on 2 December).
If you stay after 9 December there is a risk you may have to self- isolate (for 10 days) if you become symptomatic and test positive or are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive in which case, you would have to self-isolate for 14 days and could not travel until after your self-isolation finished.
If you are particularly concerned about the risk of carrying the virus, you may still choose to take a test to see if you are positive but asymptomatic before you travel.
If you do want to do this, we will need to know in the next few days so the local Outbreak Control Hub can make arrangements for you to take a test. These arrangements will differ depending on the numbers of students who choose to do so. Your Course Leaders will contact you about this. Please note that if you choose to take the test and it turns out to be positive, you will need to self-isolate in your term time accommodation for 10 days and not travel.
With the end of Lockdown two on 2 December there is a greater risk of infection spreading and we have been asked not to run social activities and to discourage students from socialising extensively prior to your departure home.
Returning to College
The new terms begins on Wednesday 6 January for HE (Tuesday 5 January for FE students). If you have travelled home and are travelling back to college for the new term you will be asked to take a Covid test on your return. We will work with the Outbreak Control Hub to arrange this and expect the testing to take place on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 January. If you test negative, you’ll be able to start term as normal. If you test positive you will need to self-isolate in your term time accommodation and of course we’ll work with you to support you to keep learning remotely.
Anybody travelling is urged to travel safely and only use public transport if you have to. You can find the full travel safely guidelines on the link below:
where possible, check in using the NHS COVID-19 appif you enter a venue that has an official NHS COVID-19 QR code poster at the entrance – alternatively, you can provide your contact details
We know the information has kept changing and might have been confusing. I hope this is clearer for you now but please let us know if you need any advice. Questions can be emailed to COVIDInfo@hca.ac.uk
4 November 2020
HCA open during November Lockdown
In line with Government guidance for education, HCA will remain open during the lockdown in England which is due to start November 4th. All students should attend their campus based sessions as usual and follow the HCA Covid Code on campus and beyond.
Students should not attend if they develop any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 or are required to self-isolate because of possible close contact. Please always inform the college of the reason for absence.
Regrettably we have cancelled our on campus evening and weekend short course programme during the lockdown
23 October 2020
Public Health England Latest Advice
What to do if you develop symptoms of COVID-19
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should remain at home for at least 10 days from the date when your symptoms appeared. Anyone with symptoms will be eligible for testing and this can be arranged via https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
All other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
Household members should not go to work, school or public areas and exercise should be taken within the home.
Household members staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
If you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
new continuous cough and/or
a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.
If you or anyone in the household does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from NHS 111 or by phoning 111.
How to stop COVID-19 spreading
There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with COVID-19
wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
wash your hands as soon as you get home
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
During the Welsh “firebreak”, announced on October 21st, it has been confirmed that Welsh students will still be able to travel to college in Hereford to study as they would do normally. Transport for Wales has confirmed that their train and bus service will be running due this ‘firebreak’ period.
We’re delighted to be welcoming students back to campus for the new academic year. The college has put in place many new measures to enable us to operate safely. We are asking all students and staff to help look after each other and others by following new guidelines. Here you can find the HCA COVID Code Handbook and latest Risk Assessment.
We have been working through these summer weeks to put in place appropriate measures to help keep students, staff, visitors and our local community safe, including enhanced hygiene facilities, expanded and re-organised space, one way systems, PPE for certain activities and revised timetabling. You can find more information in the FAQs below, but if you have any questions big or small, please do not hesitate to contact us through email@example.com or use the chatbox on the website.
Our focus is on providing face to face campus-based teaching complemented by digital sessions, what is now known as a ‘blended’ experience. While campus learning in workshops and studios is a key feature of the HCA experience, we recognise that our current students have welcomed some of the new online learning sessions introduced during the lockdown. We expect to add these to the range of learning experiences offered to students well beyond lockdown.
Sharing Student Space
Student Minds has published a Student Space Digital Communications pack, which you can access here. This also includes a dropbox folder containing signposting information, social media images and videos to help promote Student Space.
HCA Guide to self-isolation
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires that all of us play our part by being socially aware and individually responsible to protect the lives of those most at risk. You may be required to self-isolate to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We have put together a guide to self-isolation to support you through your time of self-isolation. Enclosed in this document you will find a brief guide to:
COVID-19 Reporting Procedure for Students (updated September 18th)
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
New continuous cough and/or
Fever (temperature of 37.8 C or higher)
Loss of or change in normal sense of taste/smell
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and direct contact. The droplets can be inhaled directly or land on a surface that another person may then touch and which can lead to infection if they then touch their nose, mouth or eyes.
Incubation is between 1 and 14 days (median 5 days) A person is thought to be infectious 48 hours before symptoms appear and up to 10 days afterwards.
The HCA COVID-Reporting Procedure is part of HCA’s Covid Code and aligns with government guidelines to help stop the spread of infection. It is important that all students follow the reporting guidance and stay at home if required. The college will stay in touch with you and help you to keep learning during your self-isolation period or catchup if you have a period of illness.
If you have any of the common symptoms of COVID-19
DO NOT COME TO COLLEGE but stay at home or in your student accommodation
REPORT YOUR ABSENCE to college by telephoning Registry 01432 845304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by 8.30am making it clear the reason is Covid symptoms
If you have difficulty getting a test let the college know
Stay at home until you get the result of your test and then report the result of your test to college asap by telephoning Registry 01432 845304 or email email@example.com
If the test is positive you will need to continue self-isolation and the college will discuss how best to support your learning with you
If you live with someone who has developed symptoms of COVID-19
DO NOT COME TO COLLEGE but stay at home or in your student accommodation
Report your absence to college, self-isolate and do not come in until the person has had a test and then only if the test is negative
If you are contacted through Track and Trace you must self-isolate and report your absence to college
College will contact you to discuss how you can continue to learn whilst self-isolating
Your household will need to self-isolate at least until the results of your test are known
If you develop symptoms at college
Put on a mask and clean hands before touching any surfaces
Maintain a safe distance from other people
Alert your tutor or the nearest member of staff
The college will check with you that the symptoms are those associated with COVID-19
If you can get home independently and safely you will be helped to leave by the nearest appropriate exit
If transport needs arranging, you will be taken to the campus quarantine room (Folly Lane campus pods by reception 011 or 011s/ College Road ground-floor A27)
If a symptomatic person needs to use the toilet, then the toilet area will be locked off until deep cleaned.
If you have a positive test, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day you became symptomatic. Please report the absence using the absence reporting system above. If you have a positive test you are likely to be asked these questions:
What date did you first become symptomatic?
What were your symptoms?
When did you have the test?
Please give details of anyone in College with whom you have had close contact with (48 hours prior to developing symptoms)
Definition of close contact
Face to face contact within 1 metre
Extended close contact – within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes
Travelling in a small vehicle
If your test is negative, feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to COVID-19, you can stop self-isolating. Other members of the household can also stop self-isolating (assuming that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms).
Positive test in household
If a member of your household has a positive COVID-19 test, then you must self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms and report your absence to the college using the absence reporting system. If you become symptomatic during this time, then you must be tested within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and inform the College of the outcome. If the test is positive, then you must self-isolate for ten days from the onset of your symptoms. If the test is negative, then you must continue to self-isolate for the remainder of the 14 days.
Negative test in household
If a member of your household tests negative and no longer has symptoms similar to COVID-19, other members of the household can stop self-isolating (assuming that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms).
HCA is focused on keeping you safe and learning whether in college or at home; Follow the guidance to help us do this.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) - Continuing students
I have a specific question about my course, who should I contact?
Please contact the College via firstname.lastname@example.org stating your course and a brief outline of your question. Staff will be able to get you in touch with your Course Leader or the appropriate member of staff, depending on your question.
Is the degree show going ahead?
The degree show has been postponed and will be held in a new format during the 2020/21 academic year. Meanwhile we are celebrating and promoting student work from across the college via our online Glimpse exhibition.
Is the graduation ceremony being cancelled?
No, we know how important Graduation is to our students and as staff we enjoy celebrating both your creativity and academic achievement too. We are in the process of confirming a new date to celebrate and we will let you know as soon as we can. In the meantime if you have a query please contact the Graduation Team via email: Graduation@hca.ac.uk
I have accommodation related questions, who can I contact?
You can contact the College’s Housing Team for general advice and guidance. They can also help you find out more about our new Halls of Residence if you are progressing from a College to Degree Level course at Hereford College of Arts and interested in student accommodation.
Travelling to College
Transport for Wales are putting on a number of buses to help ease the issue of reduced number of spaces available on the train lines coming into Hereford due to social distancing. The buses are being provided for students and staff who are unable to catch relevant trains due to them being full. The buses will be on standby from 7am but they will only leave when they are at capacity. Students will be dropped off at Hereford Railway Station.
Please remember to always wear a face covering unless you are medically exempt when travelling on the train or bus.
The timetable is as follows:
Morning peak to Hereford from the south
3 x Road Transport on standby at Cwmbran from 07:00
1 x Road Transport on standby at Pontypool from 07:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Abergavenny from 07:00
Morning peak to Hereford from the north
1 x Road Transport on standby at Church Stretton from 07:00
1 x Road Transport on standby at Craven Arms from 07:00
3 x Road Transport on standby at Ludlow from 07:00
3 x Road Transport on standby at Leominster from 07:00
Afternoon peak from Hereford to travel both North and South (remaining flexible on capacity so staff on the ground can manage despatch in each direction)
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 13:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 14:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 15:00
4 x Road Transport on standby at Hereford from 16:00
Station Approach Student Accommodation
5 January 2021
Following our update of 23 November 2020, we have been working closely with the building contractor and our insurers to confirm the earliest possible date that the building can be completed and handed over. Now that this work has been concluded, we have been advised that the target completion date is Monday 15 March 2021.
We are very sorry about this further delay but please be assured we are doing all we can to make sure that your accommodation is completed safely and to the highest possible standard and that we are able to plan your transfer with confidence.
As before, almost all HCA students will be able to remain in your current temporary accommodation until the move to Station Approach is complete. We will be in contact with each of you separately to confirm the arrangements for the coming term. The rent you are currently paying will stay the same while you remain in temporary accommodation and your January 2021 invoice will be amended accordingly.
For a very small number of students we will need to provide you with alternative temporary accommodation from the end of January 2021 until your transfer across to Station Approach. If this affects you, we will be in touch separately today to let you know and to confirm the arrangements.
If you have any queries, please do continue to contact Kath Brimfield and Siân Evans at Cityheart Living.
We sincerely apologise for this further delay to your move and look forward to welcoming you all to No. 1 Station Approach. In the meantime, we will continue to liaise closely with HCA with regard to their plans for the start of 2021 and in the light of the emerging government guidance over the coming days and weeks.
On Tuesday 24 March, the Home Office updated their visa guidance to provide greater certainty for international higher education students and staff in the UK currently unable to return home due to COVID-19. This covers three main issues: extensions, in-country visa switching and distance learning.
No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to expire, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.
Anyone whose leave expired after 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation will have their visas extended to 31 May 2020. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation.
In-country visa switching
Individuals (students or staff) who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation and wish to stay in the UK long-term would ordinarily need to apply for a visa from their home country. Where individuals would normally be required to return to their country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, they’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to the existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.
New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.
New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.
Further information from the Home Office
Full details covering the above visa issues can be found at the following link:
The Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open: 0800 678 1767 (open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm – calls are free of charge if made form within the UK). The Home Office asks that customers check gov.uk first as that us the central source if the information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.