Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and student accommodation providers

Published: 21 Dec 2020
Last updated: 16 Apr 2021 - see all updates

Guidance for higher and further education institutions and student accommodation providers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): universities, colleges and student accommodation providers
Facilities and estate management

Facilities and estates management

Facilities management arrangements such as emergency arrangements for fire evacuations and safe access and egress from buildings will reflect the adapted use of buildings. Fire safety risk assessments should be reviewed and kept up to date to reflect these adaptations.

Physical distancing should be maintained at evacuation assembly points. In an emergency, for example an accident or fire, people do not have to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe. Institutions should also consider PEEPs (personal emergency evacuation plans) for persons with additional mobility needs and ensure that sufficient numbers of trained staff are available. People involved in provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards including washing hands.

Given institutions and providers are likely to receive a number of deliveries and goods throughout the day it is important that facilities management continue to consider steps that will usually be needed to maintain physical distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site include:

  • revising pick-up/drop-off points, procedures, signage and markings
  • minimising contact at gatehouse security, yard and warehouse. For example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking
  • considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries, for example by ordering larger quantities less often
  • where possible and safe, having single workers load/unload vehicles
  • using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed
  • enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance
  • encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice.

The practical and timetabling challenges of managing access to buildings, particularly is recognised. The variation in size, context and physical structure across colleges and universities is also recognised.

Institutions should put in place procedures to control the size of groups accessing buildings at any one time. This could involve implementing one-way systems, and staggering class times to distribute traffic. Hand sanitising facilities should be provided at entry and exit points.

Consideration should also be made to measures that can reduce congestion outside of lecture theatres and classrooms before lessons, as gatherings in enclosed spaces such as corridors, where physical distancing may be difficult, poses a higher risk of transmission. This could include allowing additional time between lessons, to ensure students do not need to wait in corridors. Students must be made aware that they should not arrive early.

Institutions must ensure that sufficient time is scheduled between lessons to allow thorough cleaning of the teaching space.

First published: 21 Dec 2020 Last updated: 16 Apr 2021 -