Updated 12 May 2021
Consistent with the College Risk Assessment we are aiming to keep on-site presence limited and comply with social distancing in work areas. Please find key information in relation to this below.
The government guidance recognises that the “FE teaching environments are diverse and can include vocational and workplace training environments, FE providers can have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings by students and staff, if it is appropriate for their particular circumstances.” Indeed, in making this announcement the Prime Minster outlined that “common sense should be used to protect people under 40 who have not been vaccinated”. The vast majority of our student body are yet to have the opportunity to be vaccinated, which we believe maintains an ongoing risk of transmission even despite our best efforts on social distancing and hand washing.
Evidence published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) last Friday clearly stated that it was important to maintain the current mitigation measures in Colleges, including mask wearing, in the coming weeks.
SAGE point to the fact that a Covid strain first detected in India has recently been declared a “variant of concern” by Public Health England and this therefore suggests the need for caution.
Having considered all these factors, we have decided to maintain status quo in terms of wearing face coverings at New College Durham until the end of the May Bank Holiday week (Whit week). We recognise that for some this decision may not be well received but we believe that our decision is consistent with our commitment to provide high quality education in the safest environment possible.
During Whit week break we will review this position again and take an informed decision in relation to wearing of face coverings in the College from week commencing 7 June. In the interim, face coverings should continue to be worn as per our current guidance.
The College will reopen to students from 8 March 2021 with priority being given to 16-18-year olds, Apprentices approaching End Point Assessments and outstanding practical assessments, and Higher Education Students, again with practical elements to their course. There will be a blended teaching approach leading to reduced student physical presence on-site.
Similar to previous reopening plans, we will increase the numbers of students/staff on-site to support their learning and allow for engagement in key practical assessments. Managers will notify you if your presence is required on-site and where no such notification is received you should continue to work remotely.
Corporate and support staff will be contacted by their Head of Department/Manager regarding any attendance on-site and continued remote working. We aim to ensure that all staff have some on-site attendance.
In light of key changes to Government guidance/expectations the college has amended a number of its key documents which respond to Covid-19:
Prior to returning in September 2020 all staff completed a pre-return questionnaire, if anything has changed in terms of your response to this questionnaire you should advise the HR Department as soon as possible.
Asymptomatic testing is available twice weekly to all staff. You can find out more information in our coronavirus testing section
Information for students, apprentices, parents, staff, stakeholders and employers, and understanding the Coronavirus.