COVID Re-Opening Plans – FAQs

If you’re starting or returning to College in September you may have some questions.

In order to ensure that we are best prepared to support future students’ studies, and so that students are prepared to join us here at West College Scotland, we have delayed the start date for all full-time courses. The new term will commence week commencing 21 September.

Below are some questions we’ve been asked – we hope you find them useful.

Please note, these FAQs will be updated as often as we can, so please check this page regularly. If you have anything specific that you don’t feel has been addressed – please email Marketing@wcs.ac.uk.

Full-time and short full-time courses, are planned to start in the week beginning 21st September 2020.   You will receive more information over the summer before your course starts with a Pre-Course induction to help you prepare for college and to let you know what to expect.

Each team is looking at this to get the right solution for the students on their courses. We need to limit the number of people on a campus at any given time so we can adhere to social distancing guidance. That means that at least some of your classes and learning will be done off campus, supported by a mixture of learning materials, project working, online lessons and tutorials. The type of learning activities will vary depending on your course.

Where you have practical classes that take place in kitchens, workshops, salons or labs (for example), you will be in college but this is likely to be in smaller groups.  We are also planning to extend our campus opening hours so that some classes can take place in the evening when the campus is quieter.

Our curriculum teams are making adjustments that are required to be put in place due to the COVID situation but they will also ensure you get the best possible learning experience to enable you to progress to the next level of learning or into employment. Your learning experience may be different to those who studied the course previously but we are working to ensure it is of the highest quality and the alternative attendance patterns and use of technology could make parts of it even better and enable you to develop a wider range of skills.  We will still ensure, even when studying at home, your course is as interactive as possible and you work collaboratively with other students and don’t miss out on the social elements of learning.

No, the courses are planned to finish at the same time as planned.  Lecturers are planning your courses to ensure you cover all the required content to enable progression to the next level of learning or employment. In some courses elements can be reduced and in others, extra time can be given within the course to cover the required content.

The delayed start is essential to allow time for those students completing this year’s courses the time in college to complete. We need to ensure there are not too many students on the campus at any one time due to social distancing requirements and to keep everyone safe.

Appropriate PPE will be provided for practical subject areas such as Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Engineering, Science, Hospitality and Construction.  Subject specific training will be given to students on COVID and measures put in place in line with the specific guidance for the different industry sectors

In order to limit the number of people on campus at any given time, all courses are likely to have an element of off-campus learning.  College students always undertake some independent work for courses but this autumn there will be a higher proportion of course time where students study while not in college.  This could be through classes which are taught online in timetabled times, pre-recorded lessons, online tutorials, learning packages, paper-based workbooks, activities or projects.

Some classes will be completely off-campus and sometimes where classes are in college, the off-campus option will still be available to individual students who cannot come in for personal circumstances – maybe due to childcare or because they are self-isolating.

We will make every effort to support you accessing computers and software that you need to complete your studies at home.  We understand how important this will be to enable you to study. We can also support you if you need to develop your skills in using computers.

For students who may need to study on campus outside class time, we are looking at options and we will communicate more information when it’s available.

There are many factors that can change timetables at this time, including guidance from Scottish Government on COVID and social distancing requirements for colleges.  We understand that students who have children in school may be concerned about how their future college course can fit in with amended school pupil attendance patterns in place in the autumn.  We are working on timetabling for all courses and will confirm with students when we can, but this is likely to be in August.  Where it is possible, we will try and fit your college timetable in to meet your caring and employment requirements.

HE Students: The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) do not intend to make any changes to HE bursary payment dates, and have taken the decision to honour their original start dates that have been provided. This ensures that students will still receive their first SAAS bursary payment on the date they originally expected (outlined in their SAAS Award Notice). This is in line with their commitment to ensure that students do not face financial hardship as a result of Covid-19.

FE Students:

Your student support funding will commence from the new start date for your course. Please note the revised course start dates and ensure your benefit arrangements remain in place until the new start date. You will be funded based on your engagement on the course rather than solely on attendance. Please apply as soon as possible through the normal methods for your student support funding to allow us to assess your application and notify you of your entitlement.

Public transport will be implementing various measures to meet social distancing requirements and minimise risks.  Where it is possible, we will look at class start and finish times to help you avoid peak travel times.

We are looking at how we can continue to give students the chance to gain work experience as part of your course (where applicable). We will work closely with our placement providers to agree when and how students can safely go out onto work placement in line with the appropriate guidance. We are also looking at other ways for students to gain the skills required by employers until they can safely go to the work placement. We will share more information about the plans as they progress.

As with the delivery of your course, all Student Support services are reviewing how they can deliver their services to students successfully. We have already been providing ongoing support online to students during COVID lockdown, including providing learning support and counselling services.

More information will be provided to you about accessing these services in your pre-course induction. In the meantime, if you have any particular question, you can contact us:

  • Student Funding: student.funding@wcs.ac.uk
  • Student Services: info@wcs.ac.uk
  • Students’ Association: sa@wcs.ac.uk

The College is following Scottish Government guidance on arrangements for Test and Support. This guidance doesn’t currently require routine college-based Covid-19 testing as part of our reopening activities, but if this guidance changes then testing will be put in place as needed.

Current guidance confirms those groups that should follow the shielding requirements. This will also be supplemented for those that are required to self-isolate under the Test and Protect strategy. The College is fully supporting this guidance and will expect that any student who meets the official criteria will follow the shielding / isolation guidance – including not coming onto campus / accessing College buildings.  Where it is possible, you will be able to continue your learning or part of your learning off-campus.

As you would expect, the national discussions with SQA and other awarding bodies have been focused on students who have been studying this year (2019-20). Discussions are now focusing on students studying with us next year (2020-21) and discussions are taking place around the need for further changes to recognise the disrupted learning. There are no outcomes from these discussions yet, but this work will continue and all involved are keen to ensure that arrangements are developed that reflect the challenging situation we’re in.

The Scottish Government has planned out how all sectors of Scottish society can begin to move on from lockdown and return to (near) normal life in a planned, phased and safe basis. This guidance is based upon the most up to date scientific information available, including the assessment of the risks surrounding COVID-19 and the risks associated with living in lockdown. The College is, and will continue to follow the official guidance available and will put measures in place to keep staff and students safe.

The Scottish Government Route Map guidance outlines four phases for moving from lockdown, with lower restrictions and a move towards near normal activities growing with each phase. These guidelines currently anticipate that Phase 1 will start at the beginning of June 2020, with Phase 2 following over the summer, and Phase 3 being reached in August 2020. Phase 4 is estimated at some point over the remainder of the current calendar year. Please note though that these timings are subject to change depending upon the scientific evidence.

We are fully aware of how difficult this may be for parents, both students and staff. For those where alternative childcare is not available, the curriculum staff will be as flexible as possible to enable you to learn or attend college at different times. Many of the practical classes in college will be in divided smaller classes due to social distancing so alternative attendance times by joining another group may be possible to suit your children’s schooling times. Your tutors will work through the best options for you once timetables and school attendance patterns are known.

Generally you will not need to wear a face covering as we have ensured that in most situations you will be able to socially distance 2 metres from others when on Campus. You may pass people in corridors within 2 metres but you will only fleetingly be in the presence of other individuals in such circumstances. There may be rare cases where social distancing is not possible during certain lessons. If so, your lecturer will explain the safety measures and will supply you with the appropriate PPE.

In most shops it is not possible to remain at a 2 metre distance from others. The same is true on public transport. That is why you must wear a face covering in those environments.

Even though you are not required to wear a face covering you may wear one if you wish.

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