Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for colleges

Published: 9 Jul 2020
Last updated: 9 Jul 2020 - see all updates

Guidance for colleges in helping to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for colleges
Progressing through the phases

Progressing through the phases


Plans to return to campus should be developed in consultation with staff, students and recognised trade unions and updated on an ongoing basis. That planning must be based around risk assessments and safe systems of work, emphasising physical distancing and hand washing, fair work principles, and be designed to enable a restart that allows the organisation to operate while protecting employee health and well-being.  


Physical distancing and hygiene measures require work to be carried out before a restart – for example screens, one-way personnel movement systems, two metre zones, canteen re-arrangement, personal protective equipment (PPE) provision, hand sanitisers, etc.  Briefings and inductions into the new ways of working must take place.  

Dynamic assessment

A risk assessment and adoption of mitigation measures should not be a one-off exercise, rather part of a regular and ongoing consultation and feedback loop between employers and trade unions to identify what measures are working, where refinements are possible and any gaps remaining. Reviews of measures and risks should be frequent, with daily assessments of progress initially not unusual. The open and ongoing engagement between trade union or workforce representatives should enable adjustments to be made quickly and smoothly at the relevant stage, including potentially tightening workplace restrictions or reducing numbers on-site if the dynamic risk assessments indicate this is necessary.

The Phases

Colleges will take a staged approach to resuming their activities under the different phases within the route map. In progressing through the phases, colleges will follow the public health and health and safety measures outlined elsewhere in this document, including physical distancing.

In all of the phases the availability of suitable hardware and software to assist staff working from home will be considered, as will appropriate risk assessment.

Phase 2

During Phase 2  of the route map  colleges may prepare for the new academic year. This can include preparing buildings and student accommodation. Based on risk assessments, a small number of people are able to access facilities to collect materials to allow them to continue to work from home. They will also be able to go onsite to prepare teaching materials, including digital content.

Phase 2 of the route map also allows for indoor non-office-based workplaces to resume. It also enables colleges, if they wish,  to open some on-campus services such as small retail units and outdoor sports facilities. If they choose to re-open these services, colleges will want to consider specific guidance for that sector (for example retail guidance). From 6 July 2020, outdoor hospitality spaces (such as bars and restaurants) will be able to open, subject to physical distancing guidance.

In Phase 3, wider campus services such as training restaurants and eating areas, gym and sports facilities, hairdressers and beauty salons can open. Childcare services and indoor office spaces can also reopen. In carrying out these activities, colleges will apply the appropriate Scottish Government guidance, for instance for reopening early learning and childcare services.

Colleges will also consider how to ensure the safe resumption of face-to-face student support services with particular consideration given to support students with caring responsibilities and additional support requirements.

Commencement of teaching in the new academic year

Time-sensitive mandatory or regulated skills assessments that are essential to the completion of Modern Apprenticeship qualifications or to comply with a legal obligation, can also resume in colleges from July 13.

From 22 July, colleges can commence a phased return to on campus learning as part of a blended model with remote teaching. Public health measures (including physical distancing) will be in place.

Building on planning during the various phases of the Scottish Government’s route map, the precise blend of digital and face-to-face delivery will reflect current public health guidance.

Institutions will identify the appropriate blend of delivery, reflecting on what will maximise learning as well as supporting more vulnerable learners and teachers, and enabling management of risk.

Colleges will continue to support the provision of equipment to support blended learning, while maintaining physical distancing, and minimising the impact of digital poverty on their students.

Risk assessments of individual facilities should be undertaken to ensure that health and safety legislation and guidance is fully adhered to. These should be kept simple and accessible although suitable and efficient.

The text above also applies to face-to-face student support services.

Phase 4

Phase 4 is the final phase in the transition through the crisis where the virus remains suppressed and no longer considered a significant threat to public health, but society remains safety-conscious. At this stage, while remote and flexible working remains, it is anticipated that college campuses will be fully open with any necessary precautions.

Last updated: 9 July 2020



First published: 9 Jul 2020 Last updated: 9 Jul 2020 -