I know how anxious all of you are about the spread of the Coronavirus and what it might mean for the health of you and your families.
If you are a student, you will also have concerns about what this means for your exams, student funding, assessments and ability to progress to the next stage of your studies.
If you are a staff member, you will be looking for an understanding of how your working life may be changed in the next few months.
As you probably know, a Covid-19 Action Group has been meeting daily to assess the College’s response to this rapidly-changing situation.
The Group’s efforts are now focussed on arranging a well-ordered, phased closure of the College: a closure that ensures that disruption to our students’ education is kept to a minimum, and that vital services – such as the ability to pay our staff and secure funding for students – continue to be delivered. Student support payments will continue as if you were attending College.
My very strong view is that the smooth re-opening of the College will be made easier by a smooth, phased closure.
There are two things we need to get right to ensure this happens:
Firstly, we need to be certain that as many students as possible can access as much online teaching as possible.
Secondly, we need to be confident that levels of home-working among staff will allow the College to continue to function. Through speaking to our teams, we have enabled a majority of staff to work from home. Over the next few days, we will be completing this process to ensure other business-critical colleagues can do the same. Some others will be unable to work from home because of the nature of their role.
I am satisfied that we now have enough clarity on both these matters to be able to shut our buildings from close of business on Friday 20 March.
It’s important for me to thank our trade union partners and our Students’ Association for their co-operation, support and understanding in these difficult times.
I also want you to know that over the last few weeks, the College has been in regular contact with Scottish ministers, the Funding Council and others. We have at all times been guided by their advice and the advice of medical experts, particularly Health Protection Scotland.
While other institutions have indicated when they hope to re-open their buildings, my feeling is that this crisis is so fluid that it is impossible for us to give you a provisional reopening date. That decision will be made taking the best advice of scientists, health experts and ministers.
We will be providing regular updates on the College’s social media accounts, as well as our website and student intranet. Please check them regularly.
Please remember, our College is not closed. Our buildings are. Studying from home, will allow the College to continue to function, albeit it an very different way.
We really are all in this together. As a College community, let’s do everything we can to keep ourselves, our colleagues, friends and family safe.
I am confident we can get through this and emerge a stronger and even better College.
Principal & Chief Executive