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
Public health measures

Public health measures

Physical distancing

Physical distancing duties are set out in regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

All reasonable measures will be taken to implement physical distancing (currently 2 metres) in all relevant areas of colleges. In planning for physical distancing, colleges will adopt the procedures set out in COVID-19 information and guidance for non-healthcare settings.

Physical distancing applies to all parts of the college campus, including entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. Colleges will take a risk-based approach and put in place measures to manage brief interactions within 2 metres which cannot reasonably be avoided, such as limited numbers of people passing each other in corridors.

Where physical distancing cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, colleges should consider whether that activity needs to continue, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.  

Examples of actions colleges will also consider include:

  • the use of space by staff and students to ensure adherence to physical distancing guidance. This will be determined by a variety of factors including the dimensions and layout of buildings and the requirements of different curriculum areas
  • the use of clear, appropriate signage across campuses
  • physical adjustments such as the use of physical barriers (eg. perspex screens) at reception points, service desks and till/pay points
  • one-way systems, clear signage and special controls on access to constrained spaces such as toilets and changing rooms while adhering to physical distancing guidance
  • other measures such as staggered start times, shifts and part-time working to minimise the numbers of staff on campus and in specific buildings at any one time. This will include considering timings of classes and other activities to ensure physical distancing is adhered to. Any temporary amendment to terms and conditions is a matter for local negotiation

On-campus activity will be undertaken only when deemed safe to do so through appropriate risk assessment and when safety measures are in place.   

Where capacity constraints or safety and wellbeing considerations mean that students or staff cannot physically be on campus, colleges will continue to support  remote learning or home working. There should be a particular focus on addressing digital exclusion as part of these arrangements.


Staff and students should practice hand and respiratory hygiene as summarised in COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare with further information available from NHS Inform (such as frequent hand washing). Colleges will follow guidance in the provision of appropriate hygiene facilities (such as hand sanitising facilities), particularly at key areas such as entry and exit points, as well as guidance on opening public and customer toilets. 


COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings sets out the expected cleaning regime. Routine cleaning should ensure regular cleaning schedules and procedures are in place using a product which is active against bacteria and viruses. Also regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks, countertops etc.) relevant to the setting. Consideration should also be given to ventilation.

The guidance also provides advice on environmental decontamination (cleaning and disinfection) after a possible case has left the workplace. If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have been present or there is visible contamination with body fluids), then the need for additional PPE such as an apron and gloves should be considered.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where appropriate

COVID-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings sets out guidance on use of PPE. This advice confirms that workplaces should use PPE consistent with local policies and in line with measures justified by risk assessment. There is no evidence of benefit to support the use of face masks outside healthcare environments therefore the advice on medical grade face masks is that their use is not currently recommended for the general population.

Health and Safety Executive recommends a risk-based approach focussed on a hierarchy of control which seeks to reduce risk to the lowest reasonable practicable  level. This will help determine in which settings and what type of PPE would be appropriate. Colleges have considerable expertise in determining PPE requirements based on risk assessment. Where the need for PPE is identified, it will be clearly communicated to staff and students and will be readily available.

It is important to note the difference between face masks and face coverings. Face masks are surgical or medical grade masks that are used in health and social care settings. Face coverings are made from cloth or other textiles that cover the mouth and nose and through which you can breathe. The Scottish Government has published guidance on the use of personal face coverings. Should face coverings be required this will also be communicated to staff and students.



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