Covid-19 Guidance and support
*** A Letter to Young People from Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education - 29th March 2021 - Click Here To Read ***
Friday 5th March 2021
The College is pleased to confirm that it will start to welcome learners back to face to face learning at each of our College campuses from Monday 8th March. As you will appreciate this process will need to be staggered to help ensure the return to learning can be safely managed. The purpose of this communication is to outline the government expectation and the planned arrangements that will be put in place by the College.
GETTING READY TO RETURN – SOME KEY INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS RETURNING TO FACE TO FACE LEARNING
You should have now been contacted by your faculty regarding the return to College arrangements for your programme or apprenticeship. You will be aware from our previous correspondence to you that the government expectation is that all learners should complete 3 Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) 3-5 days apart. The College has mobilised testing centres at each of its sites and you will have been invited in for your first test at a designated date and time. Once you have completed your first lateral flow test with a negative outcome, you will attend face to face learning sessions within your group or cohort bubble. Once you have completed your three LFTs you will be allocated a home testing kit where you will be required to complete two tests per week and submit your results as per the guidance that will be provided within each kit. Weekly testing will be in place until at least the Easter holidays.
If you are an apprentice attending College more than once per week, your testing arrangements will be as above, if you attend College on a once per week basis, your LFTs will be completed on a weekly basis. If your employer has a LFT policy in operation and you are regularly testing please bring your latest negative test result to your first day back in college (please note that this will only be accepted if completed in the previous 24-48 hour prior to attendance at College).
Our HE learners are required to participate in two face to face lateral flow tests and then continue with regular testing – please read our specific University Centre Weston update here: Update in relation to the COVID-19 situation and University Centre Weston. - UCW
Staff across the College will be tested twice per week, and this has commenced from 1st March before staff move to home test kits from 8th March.
At this time, those who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 will not need to participate in the lateral flow testing regime until 90 days have passed, at which time they will be invited to partake. Additionally, in line with current guidance, those who have received 1 or 2 doses of their vaccination, should also join this regime of lateral flow testing until advised otherwise.
Please find below some useful information that we would like you to read prior to the first face to face learning sessions being delivered from Monday March 8th 2021.
COVID-19 is a global pandemic and Weston College takes adherence to government and College rules extremely seriously. These rules are in place to protect our students, staff, and members of the wider community in Weston-super-Mare and the local area. Work with us to keep our campuses a safe and welcoming environment. It is important that you stay at home if you have any of the three key COVID-19 symptoms:
- High temperature
- New and persistent cough
- Loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).
Please see below an overview of our expectations:
- Wear face coverings when in college buildings unless exempt (see below)
- Maintain 1m+ social distancing
- Adhere to the one-way systems
- Lanyards must be worn and visible at all times when on college premises
- Sanitise hands regularly, though especially when entering and leaving college buildings
- Work with staff and the security team to keep our campuses a safe place for people to learn
- Continue to respect others and follow the College’s student behaviour policy
- Follow government guidelines and rules regarding the need to isolate, reporting infection
In general terms, examples of behaviour that may result in further action for students include:
- Attending campus in circumstances where they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have a confirmed infection
- Intentional coughing, spluttering or spitting towards anyone else
- Failure to self-isolate when required to do so
- Failure to keep to social distancing rules put in place by the College within campuses, including in teaching spaces
- Failure to make use of required PPE when requested and / or required
- Failure to follow a reasonable instruction issued e.g. not taking action to distance themselves from others when asked to do so
- Failure to quarantine when required to do so i.e. when arriving in the UK from a country not on the Government’s exemption list at the time of their arrival
- Falsely claiming that they or another individual either may or does have COVID-19, where they know this to be untrue
- Any activity which intentionally breaches government rules in place at the time e.g. meeting in a group of more than the allowed size.
- quarantine etc
FACE COVERINGS AND EXEMPTIONS
We have put in place extensive measures to ensure that our staff and students remain safe while on campus, and part of those measures include the requirement that when in college buildings learners must wear a face covering to protect themselves and others, which also now includes in classrooms where 1m+ social distancing cannot be maintained. There are however some individuals who may not need to wear a face covering.
Who is exempt?
Government guidance states that the below are exempt from wearing face coverings within an education setting:
- Individuals who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical impairment or disability
- Individuals suffering from illness or mental health difficulties
- Individuals who speak to or provide help to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate
What do I do if I’m exempt?
If any of the above apply to you then you will be able to receive an orange ID card. All we ask is that you show this to a member of staff if asked during your time in one of the College campuses.
You can receive your orange exempt card from your campus Student Services Hub via the Welfare team or via a member of the Learning Support team. The member of staff will:
- Have a brief discussion with you to check the reason why you are exempt
- Update any records if required, for example if your medical details require updating
- If you’re experiencing mental health difficulties, explore these and put in place appropriate support
Learners will need to place their orange badge in their ID badge holder (on the reverse of their student ID card) that is attached to your lanyard. Your lanyard must be worn at all times when on college premises.
If you are a learner within Foundation Learning then you just need to speak to your tutor.
Those learners who do not consent to the lateral flow testing, or wearing of face coverings as per government guidance will still be able to access their education, however individual extra measures may then need to be introduced, such as temperature checks, alternative methods of face to face delivery etc to assist in minimising the risk of transmission amongst the College and its wider community.
We have been working with our transport partners and can confirm that all our bus/coach services will return to how they were operating before the national lockdown. Services will continue to operate at 50% capacity, and you must wear a face covering whilst on the buses.
We have decided to remove the termly bus passes and for the remainder of this academic year have introduced a new academic year pass that will cover transport on either First Bus or Bakers Dolphin services up until the end of the academic year on July 9th. These academic year passes will range from £95.00-£135.00.
Safeguarding, welfare and learning support will be available and operating as normal.
Learners can find out about all the College’s support teams via the Student Zone.
A reminder that there are also a wide range of resources available via the Let’s Chat website to support learners with their health and wellbeing.
SUPPORT WITH YOUR NEXT STEPS
At Weston, our mantra is ‘careers not courses’ and we make it a priority to support our learners to explore careers, navigate all the options available and ultimately make an informed decision about their next steps for when they complete their college programme. We’ve dedicated the entire month of March under the badge ‘My Future Month’ to celebrate all things career related and provide real focus at an important stage in the academic calendar by providing our learners with a whole host of events, activities, resources, advice and much more! Find out everything that is going on this month here.
You can also directly book a 1:1 advice and guidance appointment with any of the below simply by clicking on them:
ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT ARRANGEMENTS
Guidance has now been released clarifying how grades and assessment outcomes will be determined for GCSE, A level and Vocational Technical Qualifications (VTQs). Awarding Organisations will now use this guidance to provide specific advice for each of the many different qualifications that we deliver here at the College. The following infographic summarises the approach for GCSE, A level and VTQs most similar to this group of qualifications (e.g. BTEC, Technical Diplomas / certificates, Extended Project).
VTQs that require occupational competence to be assessed and smaller qualifications such as functional skills will continue as normal subject to it being safe to do so. The results day for different qualifications has been brought forward and will be as follows:
A Level and Level 3 VTQ: 10th August
GCSE and Level 2 VTQ: 12th August
As we return to face to face learning in the coming weeks your tutors and teachers will provide you with a clear assessment map for your programme and the evidence that will be used to assess you. What is very clear is that what you have already done and the in-college assessments that take place over the coming months will support any final judgements on programmes where it is not possible to sit final external examinations. All students must therefore attend all learning up to the end of the academic year and complete all internal assessments and assignments set by your teachers and assessors to the best of your ability.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation with the safety measures outlined and please work with the curriculum staff to maximise the learning opportunities up until the end of the academic year so we can support you to achieve and progress onto further training, higher learning or employment. The staff and I look forward to welcoming our learners and apprentices back to college over the coming weeks.
If you have any questions regarding the contents of this newsletter please contact your personal tutor via your Microsoft Team.
Dr Paul Phillips
Principal and Chief Executive
How will I be protected?
Weston College opened its doors back up in June, so we have had the opportunity to effectively implement and trial a robust approach to campus health, safety, wellbeing plans to ensure you are safe when onsite.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Every teaching space and communal area is set-up to ensure you can learn, study and socialise safely
- Additional cleaning, extra hand-washing and sanitising facilities have been added
- More staff are on hand to make sure everyone understands and follows the rules
- Access to the building is through each main reception of the campus only – we are tracking and tracing all staff and students through the scanning of ID badges at barriers
- Clear signage for a new directional system is displayed to enable safe movement around campuses
- We have curriculum pods and dedicated zones to limit contact with others onsite
- Face masks are mandatory in communal spaces and corridors onsite
- Teachers will wear PPE where there is a requirement for them to work in close proximity to learners to check their work
- Timetables have been constructed to ensure that you are in for set blocks of time - free periods have been removed where possible to reduce unnecessary movement of students
- Blended learning (face to face and online) form part of study programmes.
- Online resources can be accessed through Microsoft Teams, which is the platform that the College uses as its virtual learning environment.
- We request that staff and students to continue to engage with the Track and Trace App
- Only necessary staff and students are permitted on campus at present. All other external visitors are unable to attend under the current restrictions, all external meetings will be held virtually.
- Reporting a COVID absence in the first instance to your tutor and your employer if you are an apprentice or on work experience. All learners will need to keep the College updated on their situation, including new symptoms and most importantly learners cannot return to site until authorised to do so.
- Students/staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to study/work from home and not come into College. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or from their GP
- Students/staff who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend College.
What we will encourage you to do when you are on campus:
- If you need to cough or sneeze, remember - Catch it! Bin it! Kill it!
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
- Limit your movement around the campus and any unnecessary contact where possible
- Stay in your assigned curriculum pod and learning zone
- You will be expected to return home following any block of learning
- Bring and use your own laptop and tablets at College (loan and bursary support is available)
- Wear your ID badge at all times.
Health and wellbeing support
Welfare and Pastoral Support Services includes Welfare and Retention Officers and Counsellors providing confidential, non-judgmental support and guidance regarding a wide range of issues.
Click the buttons below to find out more about our services and how to get in touch.
Emotional Health and Wellbeing
Support Children Looked After
Alcohol and drugs
Decision-making and moving on