25th February 2021
Dear Parents/Carers and Learners,
I write as promised, following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement outlining the roadmap for easing national lockdown restrictions in England, and the re-opening of schools and colleges from 8 March 2021.
Having spent the last few days reviewing the latest Department for Education guidance, I am pleased to confirm that we are planning a carefully managed return to on-campus delivery for all NSCG learners from w/c 8 March 2021. All learners will return to face-to face teaching from w/c 8 March but, in order to maintain the safest possible environment for everyone on campus, some courses will continue with a blended approach, following a hybrid timetable comprising both face-to-face and virtual lessons. Over the course of the next few days, all learners (including apprentices, HE and adult learners) will be contacted directly by curriculum staff who will provide confirmation of when they should return to campus, precise timetable arrangements and any relevant department updates. Learners should regularly check Microsoft Teams and their college emails for updates. As the total number of learners on campus will be closely monitored, learners are respectfully asked to only attend the college campus for timetabled face-to-face sessions and to seek clarification if they are unsure when to attend.
It goes without saying that learner and staff safety will continue to remain our top priority and the significant COVID-19 measures implemented since September, including curriculum area bubbles, enhanced cleaning measures and protocols around ‘Hands, Face, Space’, will remain in place when the College reopens. One significant change in the latest guidance is that all learners must now wear a face covering in all areas of the college, including the classroom when they return. This is compulsory for everyone, with the exception of a small number of learners who have already provided medical exemption evidence. You will find further details on this, and all of the actions we are taking to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19, including our latest risk assessment documents, on our website early next week.
You may recall that prior to Christmas, NSCG was one of the first colleges in the country to offer staff and students the opportunity of on-site lateral flow testing in an effort to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in our college community. I’m pleased to report that this successful testing programme has continued for vulnerable and keyworker learners who’ve attended college during lockdown, and for the staff who have been on-site supporting them. In line with the latest Government guidance, plans are now afoot to expand the testing regime in preparation for when students and staff return during w/c 8 March 2021. Whilst the decision to take a test remains optional, all learners and staff will be strongly encouraged to participate in regular testing to allow us to quickly identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and keep our college community as safe as possible. Tests will be self-administered and will be carried out with the support and supervision of fully trained staff. Further details of the testing programme and supporting guidance videos will be shared with learners in next week’s tutorial sessions.
The advice for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms remains unchanged – learners should NOT come to college and must inform us of their absence via the student absence line. Anyone displaying symptoms should follow NHS advice and book a test using the following link.
Arrangements outlined in this update will remain in place for a four week period, until the Easter break, at which point they will be reviewed again in line with national data and any Department for Education or Public Health England guidance changes.
Since we will be having larger numbers of people on-site again to enjoy face-to-face teaching, it is vital that we all take accountability for our actions and do our bit to keep each other as safe as possible. Learners should remember that they are not returning to college in ‘normal’ circumstances, and the College experience will remain a little different for now. However, if we all stick to the rules carefully and conscientiously, we are hopeful that the control measures will be relaxed over the coming months, in line with Government guidance. I certainly hope that by the time we reach the summer months we will be moving closer towards a ‘normal’ campus experience for everyone. However, we will only get there if we do the right thing now.
We look forward to seeing learners back on campus very soon, in the meantime keep working hard and staying engaged in your virtual lessons and as usual, if you have any queries or concerns, please contact your Personal Tutor in the first instance.