We received additional guidance from government late last night regarding school and college closures, and expectations for supporting vulnerable students and the children of critical workers.
Having assessed the current situation, we have reached the point where it is in the best interests of our community to start transitioning to online learning as a precautionary measure because of COVID-19. We have a significant number of staff and students, who have been advised to follow guidelines on social distancing because of either age and/or pre-existing health conditions. This means they should significantly limit their face-to-face interaction with others.
Within current Government guidance, the College will remain open, but face-to-face teaching will pause from close of play on Wednesday 18th March 2020. Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March 2020 will be designated as staff development days with the exception of planned exams. Online learning will commence from Monday 23rd March 2020. We are currently working through the arrangements for individual courses. We have put in place arrangements for those in receipt of Free School Meals to access financial support and have allocated teams to keep in touch with our most vulnerable learners.
We have spoken with our local MP, Robert Halfon, who is in full support of the measures we are taking to safeguard our community.
We do not envisage face-to-face teaching restarting before the start of next term at the earliest. We understand that this is a difficult time for students who are preparing for examinations and formal assessments, but the current public health situation is unprecedented. Our sector is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure there is clarity regarding arrangements for the Summer assessment period.
We will keep you up to date as the situation changes through the News section of our website.
Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Today, the Department for Education and Public Health England have issued updated guidance for education settings on COVID-19.
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
What you need to know:
- staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
- if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they will be be sent home
- clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
- ensure you wash your hands for 20 seconds, more often than usual, with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
A short video on hand washing can be found here
The updated guidance can be found in full here
The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.
We are continuing to follow advice from Public Health England in respect of Coronavirus.