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Coronavirus

The latest information, updates and advice for students, parents and guardians about the current outbreak

Update: 15 April

You may be aware that The Department for Education advised last week that school and colleges will remain closed until further notice. 

We understand the Government plans to review the current measures and issue guidance following an update later this week. We will clarify our position after this announcement via email to students and parents/guardians, so keep an eye on your inbox. Stay Safe! 

Update: 31 March 

A message for our students,

As we begin the second full week of our College closure, it’s very sad that we’re not in our classrooms, mixing together and working with each other.

Learning has continued, albeit in a very different way, and we thank you for engaging with your teachers and adapting so well to online learning, which has been a learning curve for us all!

We will continue to share good news stories and positive messages across our social media to help us all feel connected.

Whilst you are at home, we want you to know that our Wellbeing team are still available to support you and you can contact them via email:

Please continue to be very self-disciplined and rigorous about your hygiene and social distancing, isolating yourself if you need to.

We wish you good health.

Update: 23 March 

Since the announcement last week that all summer exams will be cancelled, the Government has provided further clarity around what this will mean for students and how grades are likely to be calculated. 

The Department for Education’s newly published guidance seeks to reassure students, parents and educators that candidates will be awarded a fair grade that recognises the work they have put in. 

The Government has confirmed that students will not simply be awarded their predicted grades as this would not be fair to all students. Instead, grades awarded will take into account a broad range of evidence, including teacher assessment of likely grades and prior attainment, such as mock exam results. 

The information also provides reassurance that any student will be able to make an appeal or sit an exam as soon as possible after schools and colleges open again if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance. Universities UK, which represents UK universities, has advised that it expects universities to be flexible and do all they can to support students, including allowing a delayed start time for those students wishing to sit an exam after the summer. 

More detailed information is available here.

Update: 19 March 

Distance Learning for A-Level, BTEC and Higher Education students

Further to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson’s speech to the House of Commons yesterday (18 March), we would like to clarify that the arrangements we have put in place for distance learning for our A-Level, BTEC and Higher Education students will still stand.

Teachers will continue to work remotely to deliver these lessons as planned and those students should continue to engage with learning on a daily basis. The only change to our update yesterday for those students is that the College campuses will be not be accessible as of Monday 23 March until further notice, meaning that students will be unable to use on-site facilities such as the library during this time.

Support will continue to be available remotely from teachers, Heads of Learning, our Wellbeing Team and other staff during the campus closures. Key contact details can be found here.

Exams

The Prime Minister also confirmed that exams will not take place in May or June. Like us, we’re sure you will have many questions as to what it means for your GCSE and A Level grades and your places on future courses or study. As soon as we are given any further information we will of course let you know.

Critically, there has been no decision made regarding whether summer qualifications will be graded or allocated. We are anticipating that mock examination grades and assessments may be used to inform final grades awarded, as may projected grades. We are storing mock papers centrally if the exam boards ask for evidence from us regarding your performance to date.

Vulnerable students

We are also awaiting clarification from the Government on what yesterday’s announcement will mean for our vulnerable students. We will contact parents of our vulnerable students directly once we have further information.

Free school meals

The Government has confirmed it will put in place a national voucher system as soon as possible for those eligible for free school meals. Those who are eligible to receive these meals should expect a payment to arrive in their bank accounts this Wednesday.

 

Update: 18 March (5:50pm)

Further to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson’s speech to the House of Commons today (18 March), the College's management team will be meeting first thing tomorrow morning to make plans accordingly. We will provide an update following this.

 

Update: 17 March (5pm)

USP College will move to distance learning from Thursday 19 March

Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister gave a speech introducing more rigorous self-isolation and social distancing measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus. This has resulted in a number of staff and students needing to stay at home, which means we are now going to introduce distance learning from Thursday 19 March until the beginning of the Easter break (Friday 3 April).

We have been spending the past two weeks planning and preparing for a move to a distance learning approach so we can continue to support students to achieve the best learning outcome possible.

Students are advised to come in tomorrow as usual, and their tutor will provide them with guidance on how to engage with distance learning, set clear expectations for the duration of this approach, and provide reassurance. Students who are unable to access IT equipment for online learning, please speak with your teacher and tutor.

The College campuses will remain open, and some specific groups of students may still be advised to attend in order to undertake particular assignments or assessments on campus. This will take place in small groups or in a 1:1 basis to limit contact.

This is not a College closure, and there will be clear expectations for students to engage with their learning via the online tools and communication channels that have been put place.

We would like to ask for your support in encouraging students to participate fully with this temporary change. Distance learning should be treated with the same rigour as learning on campus in order to maintain educational outcomes. 

In light of the Government advice to limit social contact, we have also taken the decision to postpone work experience placements that are currently underway or due to begin. If your son or daughter is currently undertaking or due to undertake a work experience placement, we will contact their employer to let them know that you will not be attending with immediate effect.

We are taking decisive leadership action for your safety based on our current situation. We will keep communicating on a regular basis, so keep an eye on our website and your inbox for daily changes in this fast-moving situation.

Please be assured that the College is taking all possible steps to ensure that students are not disadvantaged when it comes to their qualifications and next steps. Teachers, Heads of Learning, the Director of Curriculum and Campus Operations, and Learning Plus team will be contactable throughout this time; you can find the contact details of key staff here. 

Term is due to start again on Monday 20 April as planned, with attendance expected at both campuses as usual unless we advise otherwise.

We understand that you and your families may be feeling worried or anxious so please find some useful resources below. 

To get in touch with a member of staff please use our staff list.

Update: 16 March 2/2 (5:30pm)

Further to Boris Johnson's press conference this afternoon, we would like to ask that students, parents and staff adhere to the following new guidance to combat the spread of Coronavirus that anyone who lives with someone who has a cough or a temperature should stay at home for 14 days.

In order to support those most vulnerable to be shielded from social contact, we are contacting staff and students with serious health conditions about ways we can support them to work or study from home.

The Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, has said that school closures may be necessary, but they would need to be introduced at the right time. We will therefore remain open until advised by the Government to close, however we will continue to plan for a move to distance learning should the decision be taken by the Government for educational institutions to close.

It is our intention to remain fully compliant with the guidance of the Government, which is being informed by scientific evidence on the best course and timings of actions to slow the spread of the virus.

Update: 16 March 1/2 (12pm)

The health and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community is of the upmost importance to USP College and we are committed to lessening both the risk of the spread of Coronavirus and the impact on students’ learning.

As of this morning, there are still no confirmed cases at the College. A member of staff at our Seevic Campus has reported having a high temperature and is therefore not currently in College but has not been advised to have further testing. In line with Public Health England advice, we are still taking a cautious approach in sending those with any of relevant symptoms home to self-isolate until they receive further advice from NHS 111 and undertaking a thorough and deep clean of any areas they have been in contact with.

The specialist cleaning products that we have been using on all contact surfaces since the start of the outbreak have a seven-day latency, meaning that they continue to remain active and kill germs after they have been applied.

As an extra precaution, we have also decided to postpone the Course Welcome Evenings scheduled for this week and the Student CPD Day next week, as well as cancelling all visits to and from external organisations until further notice.

The guidance from the Department of Education is still that schools and colleges should not close unless advised to by Public Health England, and so the College remains open.

The Chief Medical Officer has advised “there is no scientific evidence yet for closing schools” and Boris Johnson has stated “the scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time but of course we are keeping this under review and this again may change as the disease spreads.”

Update: 13 March

We know that the spread and impact of Coronavirus is changing rapidly and that this is causing concern for students and parents/guardians.

We are continuing to monitor developments and are closely following any changes to the Government’s published plan and recommendations. We are also remaining alert to healthcare information and advice from the World Health Organisation, Health and Safety Executive, Public Health England and daily updates from the Department for Education, and seeking advice and further clarification as needed. 

The Department of Education advice for colleges continues to be that they should remain open unless advised to close by Public Health England, and the College will adhere to this guidance.

We understand that the decision to remain open may be a cause for concern for some of you. The reason the Government is taking this decision is that introducing school and college closures too early would limit the effectiveness of these measures at the time of greatest risk but could have a huge social impact. 

We would like to assure you that we have not had any confirmed cases within the College, and we are taking a cautious approach in sending those with relevant symptoms home to self-isolate until they receive further advice from NHS 111. 
 

The latest advice if you feel unwell

Public Health England's advice is now that you should self-isolate for seven days if you have a new persistent cough or high temperature (above 37.8 degrees). We would like to emphasise that those experiencing these symptoms should not come into College. 

Any students self-isolating should notify the College on our absence reporting line:

  • Seevic Campus: 01268 882 629
  • Palmer’s campus: 01375 898 608

You can also notify us by emailing attendance@uspcollege.ac.uk with details of the symptoms.

The advice from Public Health England is that you should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, but should use the NHS 111 website or advice line if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse. 

What additional measures have we put in place?

While our hope and intention is that the College will remain open in order to minimise the impact on students’ learning, the College management team is fully focused on planning to ensure that we can continue to deliver quality education remotely in the eventuality that a closure is necessary. This includes ensuring appropriate methods of communication, work-setting, assessment and feedback are available remotely, and ensuring we hold accurate and up-to-date home contact details of all students.
 
As an innovator and leader in the enhancement of education through technology, we feel well prepared to maintain educational outcomes through non-traditional classroom settings in the event of a closure.

Update: 4 March

We understand that students, parents and guardians may be concerned about the current Coronavirus outbreak and want to provide some reassurance about how we are monitoring and responding to developments within the College.

Close monitoring

We are carefully monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19 in order to contain the spread of the virus whilst ensuring we maintain educational outcomes for our students. We receive daily updates and are following advice from the Department for Education, and are frequently referring to guidance from Public Health England and taking relevant action in accordance with their advice.

At present, advice from the Department of Education states that no school should close in response to a suspected or confirmed case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.

Precautions being taken

We have boosted our cleaning efforts, including more frequent cleaning of contact surfaces such as door handles, turnstiles, cash point machines, keyboards and toilet facilities, while hand sanitisers have been placed in key areas such as reception, offices, classrooms and restaurants.

In addition to information on this webpage, we are sharing information and updates from Public Health England and other partners, via:

Our response if the situation changes

The College's management team is meeting on a regular basis to review updates to information and guidance and to determine and adapt our course of action as the situation changes.

Whilst the College has no plans to close at present, we are putting plans in place to ensure that learning can continue and students are not adversely impacted if we do find ourselves having to take this course of action.

How you can help

Help limit the spread of germs

NHS England have advised that the virus is transmitted in much the same way as the flu virus through coughs and sneezes. You can help to limit the spread of germs by practising good hand and respiratory hygiene. Catch a cough or sneeze in a tissue and thrown it in the bin, and wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.

Get the right advice

If you are concerned that you may have come into contact with the virus and are displaying symptoms of a cough, fever and difficulty in breathing call NHS 111 for advice. They will advise on whether or not you should self-isolate.

Notify the College

Please notify the College on our absence reporting line (01268 882 629 at our Seevic Campus or 01375 898 608 at our Palmer’s campus) if:

Further information

Department for Education Coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education has launched a new helpline, open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education.

Telephone number 0800 046 8687

Email address DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk