Covid-19

Information on measures we are taking at the British Council to help ensure the safety of all students due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation.

The British Council’s priority is always to ensure the safety and well-being of our teaching centre customers, employees, and the communities in which we operate.

We are also responding in line with guidance for both the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) and the Direção-Geral de Saúde (DGS), DGE (Direçao Geral de Educaçao) and DGEstE (Direçao Geral de Estabelecimentos Escolares). 

Covid FAQs

Information on measures we are taking at the British Council to help ensure the safety of all students due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation.

The British Council’s priority is always to ensure the safety and well-being of our teaching centre customers, employees, and the communities in which we operate.

We are also responding in line with guidance for both the Serviço Nacional de Saúde  (SNS) and the Direção-Geral de Saúde  (DGS). 

This page looks at two stages:

  1. Getting ready for face-to-face
  2. During lock-down, or during a renewed lockdown

1.1 Getting ready for face-to-face: all centres

With the gradual de-escalation of Covid-19 social distancing and mobility restrictions in Portugal, our intention at the British Council is to begin offering face-to-face teaching and examinations as soon as it is possible to do so, without compromising the health and safety of all our candidates and staff.

You can already do some tests either on paper or on computer at our premises

We are planning to start face-to-face classes from 29 September.

Our offices are currently open to the public by appointment only, or to candidates taking an exam. Placement testing to join our English courses is taking place online. If you are unable to do an online placement test please contact us

Measures:

Hand sanitisers 

  • Hand sanitisers will be available at the entrance, in rooms and at our Customer Services Centre area.
  • We will also ensure that there is liquid soap and paper towels in the bathrooms so that test takers and students can wash their hands.

We will not be providing latex gloves. You can bring your own but they are not mandatory. 

Wearing masks

We will not be providing masks, but test takers and students will be required to bring their own to use when in the centre.

  • If local government regulations make it mandatory to wear additional protection you will be required to bring these with you. 

Additional sanitation

  • We will do deep-cleaning of premises in September 
  • Toilets, basins, door handles, staircase handrails and other surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least three times a day. 

Physical distancing

  • We will comply with any physical distancing requirements imposed by the local authorities. To help us do this, we will limit the number of non-student visitors and staff in the building at any one time.
  • We will place floor markers at key transit locations in the building to remind users of the importance of maintaining a safe distance.

Increased ventilation

  • Whenever possible, windows and doors will stay open to maximise natural ventilation. 
  • Air conditioning units will all be serviced and filters cleaned before classes resume.

Right to refuse entry

  • parents, guardians or attendants will not be admitted into our premises (except by appointment or in exceptional circumstances) and will have to drop off and pick up their child from outside the building. 
  • Staff or customers with flu-like symptoms, or known to be in quarantine, will not be admitted into our premises.
  • We may carry out temperature checks at the entrance. 

Please do NOT attend a class or test if:

  1. You are currently in self-quarantine or
  2. You have been in contact with any person suspected of having been exposed to Covid-19 or
  3. You have a cough, fever, are short of breath or have flu-like symptoms.

If any of the above applies to you, you will not be able to attend class or take a test. 

As the situation develops, you may be asked to sign that you agree with statements 1-3 above. Important note: Should you decide not to sign this declaration, please note that you will not be allowed to attend your class/test/exam.

1.2 Getting ready: Teaching Centres

We are carrying out extensive preparations in all our premises for a return to face to face teaching. This includes:

  • Setting up of an isolation room for use in the event of a suspected Covid case
  • Preparation of a detailed contingency plan  
  • Preparation of detailed guidelines for parents and students

Additional sanitation

  • Disinfectant floor mats at entrances
  • We will do deep-cleaning of premises in September, prior to the start of classes in the autumn. 
  • In classrooms, table tops and the backs of chairs will be cleaned and disinfected before every class.
  • Toilets, basins, door handles, staircase handrails and other surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least three times a day. 

Physical distancing

  • We will comply with any physical distancing requirements imposed by the local authorities. To help us do this, we have limited class size for more safety 
  • Staggering class start and finish times and break times to allow for social distancing 
  • Designated waiting areas and routes around the school to allow for social distancing
  • Careful planning of class capacity in line with room sizes to ensure where possible a minimum of 1 metre distance between students in the classroom
  • Reorganisation of classroom furniture to ensure at least 1m distance  between students when seated 
  • Reduced class sizes according to room capacity
  • Teaching assistants will monitor and control the flow of young leaner students before and after classes and during breaks.
  • We will stagger breaks and define areas for breaks, and minimise contact between students from different classes. 
  • We will place floor markers at key transit locations in the building to remind students of the importance of maintaining a safe distance.
  • Extensive signage reminding of routes, social distancing of 2 metres, importance of washing/sanitising hands, 

Wearing masks

  • All staff, students  and customers on our premises are required to wear masks when moving around the building.
  • Students aged 10 and over (Lower Secondary up) are required to wear masks in the classroom.
  • All teachers are required to wear masks in the classroom. 
  • Teachers, teaching assistants and customer services staff may also wear a face shield. 

Increased ventilation

  • Whenever possible, classroom windows and doors will stay open to maximise natural ventilation. 
  • Classroom air conditioning units will all be serviced and filters cleaned before classes resume.

Right to refuse entry

  • Only students, customers and staff will be able to enter our teaching centre venues, so we ask that parents, guardians or attendants to wait outside.
  • In buildings where there an enclosed garden/courtyard area, parents of EY and Primary children may enter the grounds for drop off and pick up, but not the building itself.  

1.3 Getting ready: Exams

Additional sanitation

Please note that all test/exam venues will be thoroughly cleaned prior to the start of the test. For computer-delivered and computer-based tests and exams, equipment will be cleaned between sessions.

You will be requested to sanitise your hands prior to entering the test/exam room either by washing them with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser.

Note that you may be requested to remove any mask for identification or other purposes. 

  • Staff may be wearing visors, face masks and/or latex gloves throughout the whole session.

What (not) to bring

  • Important note: Please make sure that you bring two masks and a pair of latex gloves to your test/exam. You will be required to bring your own writing materials to any test/exam, i.e. pens, pencils and rubbers. Any material left in the room after the exam/test will be disposed of.
  • You will be required to keep the belongings brought to the test/exam venue to a minimum of essentials. Belongings will be kept in designated areas throughout the whole session. Any belongings left behind after the exam/test will be disposed of.
  • You will be required to bring your own (transparent) bottle of water, as water fountains will not be available at the venue.
  • You will not be allowed to use the common areas at the venue, except for the designated waiting areas under the supervision of Exam Staff. Food and snack consumption will not be allowed in these waiting areas.
  • Please note that your temperature might be taken at the registration point of the exam venue.

2.1: Questions about Teaching Centres

Please ask our Contact Centre via phone or email if you have any queries.

1) If I want to re-register / register for the courses later in the year, what payment options do you have available?

If you have previously registered for a course with us, we will have sent you an invitation and registration instructions via email. You pay through bank transfer.

If you would like to register for a course for the first time, you will need to take a placement test so we can recommend the best course for your learning needs. After you have completed the test, our trained staff will discuss your results and your learning path with you to choose the course that best suits your needs.

See the steps you need to follow on our How to register page.

2) What courses are available for this new academic year?

Please see our pages for Adults, young learners, and online.

3) If I register myself or my child for a new face-to-face course, what will happen if there is another wave of the pandemic?

If we need to close the teaching centre in line with government guidelines, we guarantee that classes will continue online. Online classes will include the same number of hours as face-to-face classes.

2.2: Questions about Exams

1. My exam has been suspended. Can I transfer my registration to another date?

Yes, this is possible for most exams including IELTS and Cambridge English. Please check the registration page for details of available sessions. If you registered for your exam directly with an awarding body, please follow their guidelines.

2. I registered for an exam through one of your partners. How can I transfer to another date?

Please contact the test centre you registered with to transfer your test date.

3. When and how will I receive my exam results?

Your exam results will be processed as normal for all exams that took place before the suspension.

You can preview your IELTS test results on the Test Taker Portal - 5-7 calendar days after the test for computer delivered tests.

IELTS results remain online for 28 days but should not be used as an official confirmation of your performance.

Cambridge English exam results are available four to six weeks after the exam date for paper-based exams, and two weeks for computer-based exams.

We are not able to provide test results over the phone or by email or fax for security reasons.

4. Your office is closed to the public. How can I receive my test certificate?

During lockdown most of our exams team will working from home because of office closures, so they are not able to despatch certificates in the usual way. Because of this, if your IELTS TRFs and Cambridge English certificates were not delivered to you by post/courier or face-to-face prior to our office closure, we will hold them in secure conditions until we are able to despatch them either to individual candidates or the school/institution through which you registered.

Receiving Organisations (ROs) that you listed when registering for IELTS will, in most cases, have access to your online results. We will notify ROs of any changes resulting from the Covid-19 restrictions.

It will not be possible to collect your TRF or certificate in person at the British Council exam centre if our offices are closed.

5. Will you be organising additional sessions for Cambridge English exams in the future?

We work with Cambridge English to agree a calendar of sessions that will meet the needs of both our individual candidates and the schools/institutions that register candidates with us. Please keep checking our website for up to date information about the exam session calendar.

6. My exam is suspended and I am transferred to another date. Can I change my option?

If the test centre is transferred to a new date and you were not consulted about this prior to the change, you can ask for a one-off transfer at no cost to a new session within a date limit

If you were consulted about the new test date and agreed to it at the time of consultation you are not eligible for a transfer free of cost. You will need to contact your centre, providing a valid reason for the request and if accepted you will be charged a small fee for the transfer. This is a standard procedure for regular transfers.

7. Where do I find more info about my exam session (venue, hour, etc.)?

You will be sent a session timetable with all information required for the test day (venue, hour of arrival, time of test, etc.). If you do not receive any communication three days before the exam please call your test centre immediately.

You will also receive a message from the test centre outlining the safety measures and requirements for the test day.

Your health and safety is our top priority.

More information on protecting yourself from Coronavirus (Covid-19) is available here: 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Thank you for your cooperation