Update following new lockdown restrictions
With new nationwide lockdown restrictions coming into force yesterday (5 November 2020) to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has issued new advice and guidance for higher education settings that will apply for the next four weeks (expected to end on 2 December 2020).
While there are some changes we need to make in response to the Government advice, (outlined below) our campuses will be remaining open and we will be continuing with the existing blended learning delivery of your courses. As such UCEN Manchester students should continue to follow their existing timetables and attend sessions, both on campus and online, as scheduled. We remain committed to providing you with a high quality learning experience throughout this challenging time and believe that blended learning, delivered in Covid-secure face-to-face sessions or remotely, remains the best way to do this.
Throughout the lockdown period of national restrictions we will be following government advice which requires us to make the following changes to our provision:
- Students and tutors must now wear face coverings at all times while on campus, including in lessons/practical sessions and communal areas including libraries, except while sitting down to eat or drink in one of our refectories. This also does not apply if you have an exemption from wearing a face covering.
The new guidance also states that, where the wearing of face coverings adversely impacts the learning experience exemptions can be applied. We are currently reviewing our curriculum with course tutors and where the criteria is met, this exemption will be granted accordingly for specific tasks. You will be informed of any sessions or modules or activities where face coverings do not need to be worn but otherwise please wear your face covering at all times until you are told to remove it for an activity.
- If you have been previously told you are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable or Clinically Vulnerable, and have not yet received a new letter from the NHS, you need to consult with your GP/clinician to obtain advice on if this still applies to you. If your GP/clinician confirms you are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable you must stay at home and not come to campus. You should inform your Personal Tutor and they will make arrangements for you to continue accessing your course during lockdown.
- Students that live away from home while attending UCEN Manchester (i.e. in student accommodation) should not return to their home address during this four week period. A letter to students in Higher Education from the Minister for Universities, giving more details about this, can be found at the bottom of this page.
In addition to these changes, the government has advised us that we should review if a greater number of lessons can be delivered virtually and online providing it is not detrimental to the learning experience. We will be continuously reviewing this situation and where any changes are made these will be communicated to students on a course by course basis.
Will there be any further changes in delivery?
Unlike some institutions, we have been able to maintain a level of on campus face to face delivery due to the Covid-19 safety measures we have put in place, including 2 metre social distancing, wearing face coverings and one way systems, as well as conducting some of the less practical elements of teaching online.
As a result of students’ high compliance with these measures on campus, the number of positive cases in UCEN Manchester remains manageable at this point. We have been able to quickly isolate individuals and minimise the number of people that are required to self-isolate. As such we are confident that these measures remain effective at preventing the spread of the virus on campus and the evidence we have gathered suggests that positive cases in UCEN Manchester have largely been passed in settings in the community/home.
Currently we are planning to continue with our blended delivery model as thus far the measures we have introduced to reduce the risk of transmission on campus have proven effective. However, in the following scenarios it may be necessary (taking advice from Public Health England) to amend our delivery model and increase the amount of online and virtual delivery:
- Government guidance requires us to close campuses
- We have a high number of positive cases among students on a particular course. In this instance students on that course would move to a fully online model for a period of 2 weeks
- We have an outbreak among students on multiple courses at a particular campus. In this instance we would move all delivery online for a period of 2-3 weeks.
In addition, on a course by course basis, in the event of tighter restrictions we would restructure the course schedule to prioritise theory based work during a closure and reschedule practical sessions for later in the course.
We will continue to keep any changes under constant review to ensure that the impact to learning is kept to a minimum while making sure that the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and tutors remain our number one priority.
What support is available?
We fully appreciate that many of you may be finding things difficult in the current circumstances. As such I wanted to remind you of the support that is available to you.
- There is wide range of free welfare support available via our Future U student support service. Future U can support you with any queries, concerns or issues you have with accommodation, finance and general welfare. You can contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03333 222 444 and request to speak to them.
- For general information, advice and motivation you can also visit our #InThisTogether Hub where you’ll find a range of resources to help you look after yourself and stay motivated as well as further information on managing stress and links to external resources you may find useful.
- Access to our PAM Assist service. PAM Assist is a free and confidential life management and personal support service that is available to you on an entirely self-referral basis. There is no need to sign up or register or seek approval first, just call : 0808 196 3533 or email: www.pamassist.co.uk This is a 24/7 helpline. Username: Student. Password: Student1.
Should you have any concerns, challenges, or even suggestions on how we can improve our offer and delivery please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Future U team or your course tutor and we will endeavor to take every possible step to help.
Maintaining a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment
We understand that these changes have been introduced at very short notice and apologise for any inconvenience. However, we have to adopt government guidance as and when it is issued to us. We will communicate any changes to you as quickly as possible but please remain patient as we deal with a rapidly evolving situation.
We fully appreciate that these are challenging and worrying times but please rest assured that we are taking every step possible to maintain a welcoming and safe learning environment while keeping the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and our staff, our number one priority.
Please note that all of our existing Covid-19 prevention measures, including 2metre social distancing, one way systems and hand sanitizing facilities will be remaining in place. We ask that you continue to follow these control measures to ensure that we can keep us all safe and can remain open for face-to-face activity.