Update from our Principal, Corrie Harris: 26 March 2021
As we draw to the end of our Spring Term I wanted to update you on how well the College has managed the return to on-campus studies since Monday 8 March. I have been so impressed with the maturity and community responsibility shown by our students in their approach to not only the on-campus testing programme but also the enhanced safety measures that have been in place.
Since we re-opened the College we have completed 2,361 lateral flow tests with no positive results. Over 65% of our students have actively engaged with the testing programme and we currently have no positive covid cases amongst either our staff or student community which is great news.
All students have now been issued with home testing kits which cover three weeks’ worth of testing, twice a week. It is important that all students continue to test over the Easter holidays and you can find out more information about this here. We also have an update from the Director of Public Health in Northamptonshire explaining what we need to do as a community as restrictions start to lift on Monday 29 March. You can read this here.
Thank you to all our students and staff for all their hard work this term and a special thank you to our team of community volunteers who have been amazing. We look forward to welcoming everyone back after the Easter break.
Principal & CEO
UPDATE: 26 February 2021 regarding Prime Minister’s Statement on the reopening of schools and colleges
As you are aware the government announced earlier this week that colleges will open to all students from Monday 8 March. We have received updated guidance from the Department for Education and after a full review we are now able to provide the following information about our plans for students to return.
All students will return to their normal timetable from Monday 8 March 2021.
During their first two weeks back at College students will be offered up to three Covid-19 lateral flow tests. Information about the lateral flow test can be found on here. Students will be given a consent form to complete before each test and their tutors will assist them with completing the registration form. A guide to help them will also be uploaded to our Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle.
Testing is voluntary but strongly encouraged as it is an essential part of ensuring that we keep the College safe for all students and staff as well as protecting our friends and family at home.
After the two weeks of testing on site is complete students will be provided with home testing kits to enable them to carry out weekly testing at home.
If your child does not consent to a Covid-19 lateral flow test, they are still expected to return to College week commencing Monday 8 March 2021. The only exception to attending in person is if they have received a shielding letter or have been provided with medical advice that prevents them from returning. If this is the case, please ensure that they provide this information to their tutor as soon as possible.
Please remember that students should not come into the College if:
- they have one or more coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.
- a member of your household (including someone in their support bubble or childcare bubble if they have one) has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.
- they are required to isolate because they have been told to do so by NHS Test and Trace or they have returned from overseas.
- they have had a positive Covid-19 test.
If you are unsure whether your child should attend in person or not, please talk to their tutor before coming into college.
If your child does have a positive Covid-19 lateral flow test result, they will need to self-isolate in line with the government's stay-at-home guidance. Those with a negative test result can continue to attend college unless they have individually been advised otherwise by NHS Test and Trace or Public Health professionals.
The Covid-19 protective measures in place during the autumn term remain in force. These include washing hands regularly, using hand sanitiser when available and keeping our distance from other students and members of staff. Students must wear their ID badge at all times as this identifies them as a student enrolled at the College.
In addition to our previous measures, your child will be asked to wear a face-covering when indoors, including in all classes. The only exceptions to this are where a face-covering impacts their ability to take part in strenuous activities/exercise or if they are exempt from wearing a face-covering according to the government definitions.
This will restart on Monday 8 March with all routes operating as usual. As before all students travelling on College transport must wear a face covering whilst boarding and travelling on the bus unless they are exempt. Social distancing whilst waiting for buses to arrive and subject seating areas on the buses will continue to be in place. Anyone who does not comply with these measures will be subject to disciplinary procedures.
Transport fees (updated 2 March 2021)
The fees payable for the three weeks between Monday 8 March 2021 and the end of the Spring Term have been set at £55 and we would ask that these now be paid. The fee for the Summer Term will be £200.
College accommodation will reopen to our residential students on Sunday 7 March 2021. Before travelling to College we ask that students undertake a postal PCR Covid test using the testing kit that will be posted out to them. They must have received a negative test result before they are able to return to College.
Residential fees (updated 2 March 2021)
The accommodation charges for the Spring Term will be reduced in proportion to the amount of time that students were unable to stay on campus. We are in the process of contacting all returning residential students to advise how much they will need to pay. Payments should be made before Sunday 7 March 2021.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back into College and we are certain that if we all work together and follow the guidance we can do our part in securing a route out of all lockdown measures in the near future.
Free School Meals and Financial Support
If the Corona virus and lockdown has had an impact on your living circumstances and you feel that you are now eligible for either free school meals or financial support please don't hesitate to contact us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will assess your eligibility in strictest confidence.
Contingency planning for remote learning
Throughout the autumn term we were able to safely deliver almost all of our lessons face to face with students on campus. Whilst we remain committed to continuing with this approach as soon as the the current lockdown passes, we have contingency plans in place to manage online learning or a mixture of online and face to face (also known as blended learning).
All students have already practised accessing lessons remotely with their teachers and reminders on how to do this would be issued if required. Any students with issues accessing either hardware or the internet would be supported with the issuing of laptops if required.
Lessons would be delivered either as live classes for students to dial into or through work set on learning technology platforms such as Century Tech. Tutors and pastoral support would continue to be available to provide support where needed.
Any students learning remotely will be routinely contacted to check that they are okay and if they need any support or equipment for learning. Tutorials and one to ones would also continue as normal.
We continue to keep up to date with the latest guidance from the government and we are ready to respond as and when necessary.
If a student has any of the symptoms of Covid-19 they should not attend College and self isolate along with members of their household. They should also contact the NHS Helpline to arrange for a test.
More information on what to do if you or a member of your family have symptoms of Covid can be found here.
If a student is self-isolating due to either themselves or a family member having symptoms you must let the College know by calling our absence line (01604 491131 Option 2) and clearly stating the reason for the absence.
If someone begins to self-isolate because they have symptoms similar to coronavirus (COVID-19) and they get a test which delivers a negative result, they feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus (COVID-19), they can stop self-isolating. They could still have another virus, such as a cold or flu, in which case it is still best to avoid contact with other people until they are better. Other members of their household can stop self-isolating.
More information about who should get tested is contained in this letter from Public Health Northamptonshire.
Students who were in proximity (e.g. within the course bubble) with the student exhibiting symptoms can continue to attend College as normal unless:
- they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should arrange a test etc.)
- the symptomatic person subsequently tests positive or
- they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace
If the test is positive, then the College will contact the Department for Education and follow their advice as to which students may need to also self-isolate.
According to the latest government guidance an outbreak is classified as two or more positive cases of Covid-19.
In this instance the College will contact the Department for Education to check what needs to happen next. If the advice is that students within the same study bubble need to self-isolate, students and their parents will be notified as soon as is practical.
If students on a course are required to self-isolate, the College will switch to online learning. All students will have already been trained in how to access online learning resources in case the College must switch to an online delivery method.
Depending on the severity of the local lock down we may need to move to a rota delivery where only some students are in at a time. We will notify students, parents and staff as quickly as possible.
Whether it is a partial or full lock down we are prepared to start delivering our courses online. All students will have already been trained in how to access online learning resources in case the College must switch to an online delivery method and we are able to draw on the experience gained during the lock down last academic year to ensure that this works as efficiently as possible.
Wherever possible we will try to cover your child’s lessons with another member of staff. If this is not possible, we will switch some learning to online until the tutor is able to return to College either having received a negative test result or at the end of the ten day isolation period.
If a tutor tests positive for Covid we will consult with the Department for Education immediately, but we do not anticipate that it will be necessary for students to self-isolate, unless they themselves exhibit symptoms. Tutors will have been maintaining a social distance during lessons to limit close contact with students as they move between classes. We have asked students and staff to stay 2m apart at all times to maintain bubbles.
Other useful links
You may find the following links to government advice useful