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Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest Information

The following information was distributed to all continuing students on 12 March 2021.

Please note that arrangements for Graduate Diploma students and those returning from a Leave of Absence will be communicated separately.

Key points:

  • Term 3 provision will continue to be blended, with additional burst week access over Easter break (except for Easter closure days: 1–2 April and 5–6 April) for current students 
  • Term 3 online learning and teaching activities commence from 19 April (the published start date for Term 3)
  • Burst week dates for Term 3 are outlined in the attachment
  • All on-campus activities must continue to be booked separately and in advance
  • The College supports any student who wishes to continue wholly online for the rest of the academic year
  • All Covid-secure measures remain in place on campus
  • Students and staff attending campus are strongly recommended to take a Covid-19 test twice per week (see attachment)
  • Access cards may only be collected from campus receptions during your allocated burst weeks
  • The College is still working on final arrangements for RCA2021 - these will be communicated separately, in due course

(Updated 30 March) Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun. From 29 March, the ‘stay at home’ rule ends - and up to 6 people or 2 households can meet outside. Shielding ends on 31 March.

Covid-secure RCA campuses, Kensington, Battersea, White City:

All of our decisions for the academic year 2020/21 continue to be made because the health, safety and well-being of our staff and students is our highest priority. To meet Government requirements, we have reconfigured our three campuses, Kensington, Battersea and White City. All students are expected to adhere to the safety measures we have implemented.

It is still not possible for all RCA students and staff to be onsite at any one time. Schools will again be allocated specific ‘burst weeks’ during which they may timetable making and community-building activities for specific cohorts of students. We will facilitate mixed cohorts - of both MA1 and MA2 students - during these burst weeks. Students will need to schedule any on-campus activities in advance during these burst weeks - we are still not yet able to allow casual or open access to any campus sites at this time. We will update you should the situation change.  

It is as important as ever that all students and staff who attend campus follow the Covid-secure guidelines outlined to you since the beginning of the year. These include:

  • Wearing a 3-ply mask at all times when on campus
  • Washing or sanitising your hands regularly
  • Keeping a 2m distance from each other, where possible
  • Following the one-way traffic systems on campus
  • Clearing your personal items and work into storage after your burst
There will continue to be enhanced regular cleaning including sanitisation throughout the day and antiviral fogging between bursts. We continue to monitor the latest government and public health guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and to update the advice we are providing to staff and students on the RCA intranet. Everyone coming to campus is advised to check this advice before arrival.

Staff and students coming to RCA campuses should wear high quality, 3-ply masks. There are also additional, more specialist requirements for the wearing of PPE in workshops and other facilities, where the technical process involved requires more PPE to be worn. Technical Services staff will advise on this, and more information on PPE use in workshops will be available on Moodle.

The latest UK Government guidance highly recommends that both students and staff who are accessing our campuses take a Covid-19 test twice per week. Staff and students are strongly recommended to seek a free Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test from the Local Authority for your home address (see NHS Test Finder map) before you attend the RCA campus where you are working or studying.

Please note that the LFD tests are for those who do not have any symptoms of Covid-19, and the testing sites are referred to as ‘asymptomatic test centres’. There are separate test centres for anyone who does have Covid-19 symptoms, but these are operated in different locations.

Alternatively you should attend one of the local community testing sites in the London Boroughs adjacent to the College campuses before you attend. Please visit the intranet for full information

If you are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19, or have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19, you should not come to campus, and instead follow the guidance from the NHS on self-isolation and getting a free NHS test.

Learning and Teaching

Like other universities in the UK and overseas, teaching and learning at the RCA will continue to be blended - a combination of online learning and assessment and, where safe and where staff provision allows, face-to-face making and community-building activities.

We have reviewed and adapted our programmes, academic timetables and teaching delivery. Across the full duration of your programme we will always seek to deliver a rich and rewarding RCA experience that enables you to meet the learning outcomes of your chosen programme of study. 

For MA and MRes students, where necessary, modifications have been made in the mode and/or sequence of curriculum delivery to ensure that UK Government guidelines and safe working can be maintained at all times.

For postgraduate research students we will aim to make the necessary arrangements for you to continue your research, while ensuring the health and safety of students and staff. All supervision, assessment and training has been planned to be flexibly delivered in line with government guidelines while still meeting the QAA criteria.

During Term 3, learning, teaching and assessment activities will continue to be delivered online with the opportunity for some scheduled on-campus making and community-building activities during your School’s allocated ‘burst weeks’ (further details on ‘burst weeks’ included herein). Please check your timetable carefully for the location of your campus-based activities. 

Please note: Campus burst access for Term 3 will begin three weeks prior to the official start of term, from 29 March 2021 (except for Easter public holidays and College closure days). This is to ensure parity of access for all Schools and equity across Terms 1, 2 & 3. Online teaching and learning for Term 3 will commence as planned on 19 April.

Term 3 and Easter Burst Week dates

Term 3 ‘burst weeks’ are:  

Schools of Communication; and Design*

  • w/c 29 March 2021 and w/c 5 April 2021 (excluding Easter closure)**
  • w/c 26 April 2021 and w/c 3 May 2021
  • w/c 24 May 2021 and w/c 31 May 2021
  • w/c 21 June 2021 (single week) 

Schools of Architecture; and Arts & Humanities*

  • w/c 12 April 2021 and w/c 19 April 2021
  • w/c 10 May 2021 and w/c 17 May 2021
  • w/c 7 June 2021 and w/c 14 June 2021

MRes RCA students*

  • w/c 26 April 2021 and w/c 3 May 2021
  • w/c 24 May 2021 and w/c 31 May 2021
  • w/c 21 June 2021

For MRes students, further access arrangements continuing beyond w/c 21 June are still being considered and these details will be communicated in due course. 

Programmes offered with partner institutions may vary from this model. PGR student timetables will be negotiated between PGR students and the Research Office. 

Some programme cohorts will continue to be split into A & B groups to help manage safe access to campuses – where this occurs, burst weeks may also vary from those listed above.

*Please note: You will need to refer to your specific programme timetable for exact times and dates. The weeks listed above are provided as a general reference to highlight weeks during which there may be activities scheduled on campus for RCA students. 

**Please also note: The College is closed for Easter on 1, 2 April and 5, 6 April 2021 and so campus access will not be available on these dates. 

Further details on your specific programme of study will be made available on Moodle (our virtual learning environment). 

Campus opening times

The times during which activities may be timetabled on campus are: 

Monday to Friday*, 9:00-20:00

*On the final Friday of a burst block, the College will close at 17:00 so that deep-cleaning can commence over the weekend and in advance of the next group’s arrival the following Monday.

Again, you should refer to your specific programme timetable for exact times and dates.

Services and Support

The Technical Services team has also adapted and reconfigured their offer to ensure students are provided with ‘adjacent’ services to support them during their on-campus burst weeks. Access to campus does not automatically equate to access to technical services and workshops and these facilities will only operate where it is safe to do so and where staffing provision permits. 

Online consultations, support from Technical Services and access to workshops must be arranged by appointment and booked through Moodle. It is still not yet safe to allow open access, and unfortunately this cannot be provided while safe distancing measures are in force. 

Students will still also be able to access Library, Special Collections and RCA Archives remotely, also by appointment. Our excellent Student Services and Registry teams will also continue to provide their services online.

Library, College Shop and Bureau ‘click & collect’ services will continue to be made available. 

Booking on campus in Term 3

As with Term 2, students will not automatically be timetabled for on-campus activities. Going forward, you must book in advance any on-campus activities during your programme’s allocated burst weeks. 

The following must be booked in advance:

  • All individual desks, benches and activity spaces  (one of these must be booked if you  also wish to book in with Technical Services)
  • Technical Services and supervised workshop access (where staffing provision enables this)
  • Library access to study spaces

This is to ensure that it is known where students and staff are located, for health and safety reasons and safe working.

In Term 3 everything is booked through Moodle, the College's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). 

Full information about booking in Term 3 for MA, MRes and PGR students, and links to the booking systems on Moodle, will be distributed to students next week.

Our commitment for the academic year 2020/21: option to study wholly online if you choose

If you continue to be affected by Covid-19 and you are unable to join on-campus bursts we will continue to support you in accessing your programme online - all programmes have been adapted for online delivery and it will in no way be detrimental to your progression should you choose to engage wholly online. 

Timetabling for online activity will continue to take into account the international nature of our community and the many geographies of our students, with events being re-run, recorded or pre-recorded where appropriate and feasible, to support asynchronous learning and study.

We are committed to ensuring that, if you are unable to attend in person, you will still be able to study and attend classes online for the duration of the academic year 2020/21. There is no requirement for you to physically attend if you are unable to travel and stay in London at this time.

‘Burst weeks’

Each ‘burst’ consists of 2 weeks, except for the final burst week of Term (w/c 21 June) which is a single week. Schools and programmes have again been allocated 3 specific, 2-week bursts across Term 3. These weeks will be delivered in an on/off pattern across the term; i.e. 2-weeks on, 2-weeks off, and so on. You will need to refer to your specific programme timetable for exact times and dates. 

The final, single burst week commences on 21 June 2021, the same day that further proposed relaxation measures are expected to be announced by the UK Government. This final burst week will continue as detailed in this communication regardless of any changes announced by the Government on 21 June. This is because: this is the final week of Term 3; it will not be possible to implement the significant changes required to alter campus access and facilities for this single week; and proceeding a planned for the final week of term provides certainty for staff and students.

For MRes students, further access arrangements continuing beyond w/c 21 June are still being considered and these details will be communicated in due course. 

All burst weeks will take place on a single site so there will be no travel between sites apart from a limited number of exceptions and scheduled by appointment; for safety reasons the shuttle bus will remain out of service for Term 3

To ensure the health & safety of the entire RCA community, an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting regime will continue during each of the ‘bursts’. Between each 2-week ‘burst’ (over the weekend) all spaces will be deep-cleaned before the next cohort of students arrives. 

When your 2-week burst concludes, you will need to ensure that you remove all personal belongings and work so that the space can be deep cleaned before the next cohort arrives. There is some on-campus storage for you to leave your work in case you cannot take it with you during your ‘off campus’ weeks. You will be responsible for ensuring that your work and belongings are safely stored or removed upon conclusion of your on-campus burst weeks. 

These measures enable the College to continue to provide a safe learning environment with 2m social-distancing measures in place, and to also ensure parity of access for students across the full duration of their programme. 

International students travelling to London for Term 3

While international travel is permitted for educational purposes, there are clear restrictions in place around quarantine and self-isolation when you arrive in the UK for Term 3. We ask international students to please consider this carefully before making any travel arrangements, and follow closely the foreign travel guidance set out by the UK Government.

Please note: The Department for Education has now updated its guidance on students returning to, and starting, higher education in the 2021 Spring Term in England, outlining the current requirements for testing. This includes confirmation that students must pre-book and pay for a travel test package, which will include Covid-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantine. The guidance also includes links to the test booking site. 

International students graduating this summer who wish to take up a Graduate Immigration Visa should ensure that they are in the UK by 21 June, while following government guidance around travel, to be sure that they will remain eligible for this visa upon graduation. Any student needing a visa to re-enter the country should contact [email protected] as soon as possible to obtain a CAS.

Advice on travelling home for Easter break

Separately, the UK Government is asking students not to travel home for the Spring break and it is strongly advising those students who only returned to university from 8 March to not travel wherever possible. This is in order to minimise transmission of Covid-19.

Please see guidance on Easter travel from the Office for Students here

Please be reminded that our Student Support team are on hand to provide specific support for international students. 

RCA2021 - College is still working on arrangements

The College is still working on arrangements for final year MA students’ graduation showcase in 2021. We are exploring holding future showcases online with the possibility of small, tailored physical events in London if it is safe to do so. 

Final arrangements will be communicated to students as soon as they are confirmed.

Next Steps

Our plans are based on the current situation, outlook, regulations and Government guidance. Our approach throughout continues to ensure that we are putting the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff at the centre of all our decisions. 

We all must continue to adhere to all health & safety requirements. It is now clear that the UK Government requirements on social-distancing and health and safety will remain in place for the remainder of this academic year.  

Should the Government’s requirements remain as they are currently, we will continue to offer a blended teaching model, with a combination of online and physical activities where safe. This has been, and will continue to be the default position for delivery across the 2020/21 academic year.

In the event of tightened Covid-19 restrictions during the 2020/21 academic year, all teaching, research and assessment activities will revert to online-only delivery to enable your continued safe study and progression. 

An RCA degree is an internationally recognised qualification and, as such, normal fees will apply regardless of the mode of delivery. Our degrees are designed to encourage students to question established narratives. This has never been more relevant, and will be a prominent feature of our curriculum in 2020-21.

Changing your plans

Things can change quickly during a pandemic. Please ensure you check your College email regularly. If your plans have been affected by Covid-19 and you need to request a Leave of Absence, please contact your Head of Programme in the first instance. A Leave of Absence must be agreed in advance with the College. 

For more information

Hands. Face. Space.

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

Latest advice on self-isolation if you have symptoms 

Self-isolate immediately if:

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to NHS testing to arrange. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

See the latest NHS information and advice on COVID-19, and the latest guidance from Gov.uk

Travelling on public transport 

If you need to travel, Transport for London is asking people to consider walking or cycling and has a number of online resources to help.