Back to campus: Covid testing, exams and grades, and wellbeing
2nd March 2021
A message from the Principal
I hope you remain safe, well and engaged in your studies. In this letter you will find information about your return to College from 8 March as part of the Government roadmap out of the current national lockdown arrangements.
Your teacher will be in touch with the details for your course and in line with the Government advice, all 16-18 students will be able to return to College campuses on or after 8th March 2021. Most courses will have a mix of face-to-face and online delivery in the three weeks leading up to Easter and for adults this will be weighted towards online. If you are classified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) you will not be able to return until 31st March 2021 in line with the national guidance.
The return to face-to-face learning on our sites is great news, allowing you to return to College and continue your studies in a more “normal” way. However, we will continue to operate all of the existing, and some new safety measures to ensure everyone on our sites is kept safe and to minimise the risk of re-opening causing a spread of COVID-19 in our community.
These are the key things you must do when you are on the College site at all times:
- You must not come to college if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- You should maintain 2m social distance from other students at all times when outside your bubble. This includes in café spaces, corridors and areas such as smoking shelters, bus stops etc.
- You should minimise the number of contacts you have with other people. Whilst we know that you will want to re-engage with friends this will need to wait until later so no socialising out of lessons as we are still in a national lockdown.
- You must wear a face covering at all times when indoors including in classrooms / workshops, and in some circumstances e.g. Easton bus queues when outdoors.
- We will be continuing to ensure that every classroom and workshop is well ventilated, keeping doors and windows open as we did at the start of the autumn term. This should be easier now that the weather is a little warmer, but you should dress in a way that means you are comfortable in class.
- Each curriculum area has been allocated a specific eating outlet as in the autumn term and you must only use your allocated outlet.
- You must continue hand washing and sanitising more often than usual and wipe down your work areas at the beginning and end of lessons.
In addition, you will be asked to undertake Lateral Flow Device testing for COVID-19 in the days following your return. Whilst the details of how this will operate for each course is different and linked to when you might return, this letter provides further details on how this will operate. Most importantly, I would ask you now to read the guidance and if you choose to, provide your consent to being tested via our webform, before you return to site. For students aged 16 and over, we are asking for your individual consent. For students aged under 16 we are seeking parental consent for testing.
Taking part in the testing is voluntary, but we would ask you to participate if you can, to keep yourself, your friends and our community as safe as possible. You may also have heard that your family may be able to access Lateral Flow Device testing so they can test themselves at home, details are available here. Please note that whilst Colleges are not mentioned the families of College students are eligible for this service.
Further Education courses for 16-18
The delivery of your course will revert to the model that we used in the Autumn Term with the majority of timetabled sessions delivered face to face. Where appropriate, some sessions may continue to include online sessions.
In order to accommodate the needs to provide each of you with the opportunity to undertake Lateral Flow Device tests for COVID-19 on your return and in the couple of weeks following return, we will be providing each of you with a specific start date which may be later than March 8th. There could be timetable and room changes as a result of return arrangements, so please continue to monitor your emails for the specific arrangements for your course.
Further Education Qualifications
The Government and Ofqual have now provided further information on how qualifications will have grades awarded in the summer of 2021. The full details are available on the Ofqual website here and these two infographics provide a useful summary of the different approaches.
We are working through the exact arrangements for each of your qualifications and your course teams will provide more specific information on what this means for you. The one thing that underpins all the approaches is that it is important for you to continue to engage fully with your studies to ensure you can demonstrate the skills and knowledge you have gained during your course.
A limited number of apprenticeship programmes will return from March 8th. We are prioritising a return for apprentices where there is a requirement to access specialist teaching facilities to develop necessary practical skills. Lecturers and Tutor/Assessors will be in contact with you and your employer with further details. The remainder of apprenticeship provision will remain online for the time being.
Higher Education provision
We expect a majority of Higher Education provision to remain online until Easter, when we will review how we can operate in the summer term. Blackboard will remain the main way in which we will communicate the latest information to you. For the limited number of programmes where teaching will restart before Easter, lecturers will contact you to make appropriate arrangements.
Those students on courses specifically for Adults (such as Access to HE programmes, part-time GCSE maths and English, functional skills and English for speakers of other languages [ESOL], Hair and Beauty and Accountancy) much of your delivery will continue to be supported online until Easter. We will then review how these courses will be delivered in the Summer term.
All residential students who have face-to-face teaching will be able to return to their residential accommodation on or after 7th March, to allow you to align your return to the specific arrangements for your course returning. The residential team will write to you separately with further details on the arrangements for your return to your residential accommodation.
Students with Special Educational Needs
For students with disabilities or difficulties that may make it very difficult for them to successfully self-administer LFD tests in our testing centres, we will make arrangements for families to receive home testing kits in order to support the testing of their young people.
College bus services will resume as normal from Monday 8th March. Please adhere to social distancing and mask wearing in order to protect yourselves and others.
Laptop Loan Scheme
Whilst we are returning to site, the scheme will continue through to the end of the academic year at which point you will be required to return any devices.
Our continuing priority throughout COVID-19 has been to ensure that you are kept safe and that we can provide support to assist your wellbeing. Coming back onto campus may provoke a variety of emotions for individuals and we want to assure you that we are here to support during what might be a difficult return to campus for some. Equally, for some students we recognise that this will be an exciting time and that you will be feeling positive about returning, which is great, and we are looking forward to seeing you.
If you are concerned about your own health and wellbeing (or that of your friends), contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our self-referral form on the Student Services page on SharePoint and we will get in touch with you to offer you a telephone appointment. This is for all students.
Kooth mental health support
Please continue to check the College social media and our website in order to keep up to date with any changes we need to make in response to Government advice. We will continue to keep you up to date with any developments. In the meantime, please stay safe.
With very best wishes,
Corrienne Peasgood OBE