The announcement last week by the Minister for Education Kirsty Williams effectively means that we have now been given approval to put together a second plan for September based on 16–18 year old College students being physically present on campus.
And whilst we would be delighted if this was the way forward in less than two months’ time, clearly any final decision – according to the Children and Education sub group of the Technical Advisory Group – will be based on a continuing steady decline in the presence of the virus in the community and a range of appropriate measures being in place including an effective contact tracing programme.
So, as a College, we have taken the decision to put two plans in place. The first is based on a model of blended delivery i.e. a combination of on-campus and online teaching and support. The second is based on the majority of our full time students being taught almost exclusively on-campus.
It would appear to me that the ideal position for us to be in is where the College has separate plans which then allow us to move easily and efficiently between the two models as and when necessary e.g. if we suffer a second spike mid-year.
This means all of the preparation work that has been undertaken to date, by staff from across the College has been invaluable, and in many cases it will now act as a new baseline, which we can build on.
We now await further detail and guidance in terms of what we can do and what we can’t in critical areas such as transport and the management of bubbles for students studying different subjects e.g. for A Level students could we teach one subject on the Monday, and then teach a second separate subject on the Tuesday etc.
And as we receive this clarity, we will initially work with our staff and our recognised trade unions to work through the detail and then share this with students, parents and other key stakeholders as soon as we can.
As we have communicated throughout this pandemic, we are committed to ensuring that the health and safety of our students and staff remains at the forefront, so please be assured this will be identified at each stage of our plans.