Coronavirus Updates

We'll use this page to keep you updated regarding developments on the spread of Coronavirus and its impact on how our students and staff will operate at the College.

We will update this page as and when there is new news to report. 

Updated 25 February 2021

We have written directly to students and to parents of our 16-18 students to provide further information regarding the availability of Covid-19 symptom-free testing when our campuses re-open.

In addition, please click here to read the latest version of our symptom-free testing frequently asked questions.

Updated 24 February 2021

Re-opening of College campuses from Monday 8 March 

Further to the Government’s announcement on 22 February, we are now preparing to re-open our campuses to staff and students from Monday 8 March.  

The fact that we are opening our campuses on 8 March does not mean that all students will be returning on that date. A staggered return of students enables us to manage the return safely and ensure that returning students have access to Covid-19 testing.   

Students will be contacted directly by their tutors to advise them of their first day back on site.  

Until students return to campus learning will continue online, and students should attend and participate in online lessons with their tutors.  

Please note the following:

Covid-19 testing 

We are required by the Government to provide a way for students to access Covid-19 testing. We strongly encourage all our students and staff to take regular tests, as this is key to helping reduce the spread of the virus by identifying those who have the virus but don’t have any of the common symptoms.  

Students will be offered three tests, with each test being three to five days apart. After three tests have been completed, home testing kits will be supplied which students should use to test themselves at home twice each week. 

We will write separately to students and parents with detailed information and instructions on the testing arrangements.  

Staying safe around campus 

Until we’re advised by Public Health England that it is no longer necessary, all students and staff must continue to: 

  • practice regular handwashing and/or use the hand sanitiser provided, 
  • wear an appropriate face covering at all times in communal areas.  This includes the refectory and eating zones, unless you are seated and eating. Students must now also wear a face covering in classrooms and workshops, except where exemptions apply, 
  • observe social distancing around our campuses and follow any directional signage or instructions from staff regarding keeping a distance from others. 

In short, we’re asking everyone to please remember ‘Hands, Face, Space’ which continue to be the key ways that we can prevent the virus spreading at College.  

We will notify students when these safety measures are no longer required.  

Self-isolation 

If students or anyone they live with are asked to self-isolate by the College or by the NHS because of Covid-19 symptoms, a confirmed case, symptoms in their household/support bubble, or close contact with a confirmed case, they must stay away from our campuses.  

Students should email healthandsafety@midkent.ac.uk to advise us that they are isolating and contact their tutor who will discuss ways for them to continue their learning from home until they can return to campus.  

Exams and Assessment 

At the time of writing, we are waiting for confirmation from the Government and the Awarding Bodies as to how students will be assessed this year. A consultation on assessment closed at the end of January and we expect to hear details shortly. We will notify students and parents of the arrangements as soon as possible.  

In the meantime, students should continue to work hard, attend and participate in lessons, and submit any work that they are asked to complete by their tutor as this will be evidence of their progress that we may need to use to award their qualification.  

It is understandable that students may be unsure as to how the disruption this year affects their progression to the next level of study at College or their progress to university or work. If they have concerns about this, they should speak with their tutor.  

If students need support 

We understand that the prospect of returning to College and adjusting to a new routine may be unsettling for some of our students. If students are worried or anxious, they should visit the Student Support pages on Moodle and contact our Student Welfare team. We would be very pleased to support them as they prepare to return to campus.  

We look forward to seeing students and staff return to our campuses in the near future. 

Updated 22 February 2021

In response to the Prime Minister's statement on 22 February, we are preparing to open our campuses to staff and students from 8 March onwards.

We will write directly to students and to parents/carers of students aged 16-18 in the next few days to outline the return to campus, in line with the full guidance published by the Department for Education.

Updated 29 January 2021

You will no doubt be aware of the Prime Minister's statement on 27 January regarding school and college closures. To reiterate the key points:

  • The earliest date that we can begin to re-open is Monday 8th March.
  • The actual date we can re-open won't be confirmed until February. We can expect further government guidance regarding moving out of lockdown during week commencing 22nd February.
  • When the decision to re-open is made, we will receive two weeks' notice to do so.

As a result the current arrangements for teaching and learning will continue, with most students learning online supported by their tutors, and a small number of students invited to attend College where they meet specific criteria to do so.

We appreciate that for many of our students this will be disappointing news, but we must follow the guidance as laid out by government to ensure that students, staff and our wider community are protected. If any students require support to work from home, please speak to tutors in the first instance. If welfare support is required, please visit the welfare page on Moodle and contact us for assistance.

Finally, we're still waiting for confirmed guidance as to how we are expected to assess students in order to award qualifications this year. A government consultation on that topic concludes shortly, and we will write to students and parents with more information as soon as we receive instructions from the Department for Education and our awarding bodies.

Updated 15 January 2021

On Wednesday the Government confirmed that BTEC examinations scheduled for February and March would be cancelled. 

However, where assessments enable a student to achieve a license to practice, enter directly into employment, are needed to complete an apprenticeship, or are available 'on-demand' (such as Functional Skills and ESOL), exams are allowed to continue.

This does not change the previous announcement that exams in January could continue at the discretion of individual schools and colleges.

Over the last two weeks around 50% of those who were due to take exams have chosen to come to campus to sit them, and we've been pleased to support that. We're also pleased to support those who have chosen to stay at home and not take exams at this time.

We will continue to offer exam sittings during January for those who wish to sit them. For those who wish to remain at home, we do not want to cause any undue anxiety and there is no obligation for you to attend.

We await details regarding student assessment for those who do not take exams in January, and for those who will not be taking exams in February and March as planned. We will confirm these arrangements to students when those decisions are announced.

 

Updated 5 January 2021

Earlier this afternoon we wrote to our students, and the parents of students aged 16-18, outlining some steps forward in the light of the UK entering a national lockdown. Among that guidance was information relating to BTEC and Vocational exams, which the Department for Education indicated would proceed as scheduled. 

At 18:40 today we received further guidance that the Department was now leaving it at the discretion of individual Colleges as to whether or not to open for the exams. 

We know that many of our students have worked hard over the Christmas and New Year break to prepare for these exams, and many have spent today working with their tutors to make final preparations for exams tomorrow. As a result, we have decided that we will still run exams for those who wish to sit them. For those who wish to attend and sit exams, please be assured that the number of people on site will be at an absolute minimum, and we are confident that you can sit your exam in a safe manner. 

We also recognise that many of our students, and their families, are rightly concerned about the spread of Covid-19, and would prefer to remain at home and minimise their risk of exposure to the virus. For those who wish to remain at home, we do not want to cause any undue anxiety and there is no obligation for you to attend. If you choose to stay away, you will no doubt want to know what the next steps are for your assessment. At this stage, the Department has not provided advice regarding this, and this is a matter on which we are seeking urgent clarification.

We will continue to provide updates on this page as and when the guidance changes. 

 

Updated 5 January 2021


Further to the announcement of a new national lockdown on Monday 4th January, our campuses will remain closed to most students.

At the time of writing there are two exceptions to this, and our campuses will be open for: 

  • a small group of students who meet specific criteria for additional support – these students and their families will already be in contact with our Student Support team. 
  • students who are due to sit nationally-assessed BTEC exams. According to the Department for Education, BTEC and Vocational exams scheduled for January will go ahead as scheduled. If you have an exam, you should attend your exam sitting if you are well enough to do so and have not been asked to isolate because of close contact with a positive Covid-19 case. 

Obviously this is a developing situation, and should the Department change the approach with these January exams we will advise students as soon as possible. 

All students are expected to engage with online lessons and complete work assigned by tutors. Students should check their usual online learning platform (for example Moodle, Seesaw, OneNote etc) where work will be set, and should regularly check College email addresses for updates and instructions. 

We will write to students, and parents of our 16-18 students later today. 

 

Updated 31 December 2020

Further to the Government's statement on 30th December regarding schools and colleges re-opening, please note the following regarding the start of our new term on 4th January:

Term starts for all students on 4th January. However, we anticipate that for the first two weeks of term, students will work remotely at home supported virtually by their tutors. Please note that:

  • Campuses will be opening to support national exams scheduled for week commencing 4th January. If you have an exam, you will need to attend for your exam sitting as these exams have not been delayed by the awarding bodies.
  • A small group of students will be invited to return to College from 5th January where they meet specific criteria for ongoing support. These students will be contacted on 4th January and invited to attend by their tutors.
  • If you are not invited to attend, and are not scheduled to complete an exam, you are expected to complete work assigned by your tutors. Students should check their usual online learning platform (for example Moodle, Seesaw, OneNote etc) where work will be set, and should regularly check College email addresses for updates and instructions. As our teaching staff return to work on 4th January, you can expect to start online learning from Tuesday 5th January.
  • During the first week of term, our staff will be preparing to deliver Covid-19 tests to as many staff and students as possible. Once plans for testing are confirmed, we will publish further information to students and staff through MyDay.

We hope that you find a way to enjoy the New Year celebrations under the current restrictions, and look forward to working with you in 2021.

 

Updated 18 December 2020

We're looking forward to welcoming our students when the new term starts with timetables re-starting from Monday 4 January. 
 
You may have seen news coverage that some schools are delaying students returning until 11 January. Because (unlike schools) not all of our students attend every day, our timetables already stagger students returning across the week and control the number of students on site at any one time. 
 
Guidance also permits that the following priority groups, which cover most of our students, can return from 4th January:
 
• those who are due to take exams and assessments in January 2021
• vulnerable young people, including all students in post-16 specialist institutions
• those who are not able to access remote education, for example, because of the practical nature of study (that cannot be undertaken at a later point)
• those on technical programmes who need to access specialised equipment
• those preparing for upcoming assessments or exams, for example vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs), GCSEs and A levels during this academic year
 
If the guidance changes, we will of course respond appropriately. Please check this page for the latest updates.

Updated 17 December 2020

Obviously we hope that all of our staff and students stay well and healthy over the break. 

However, if you do start to display symtoms, have a positive test result, or are asked to isolate through test and trace activity, we'd really appreciate you letting us know so that we can prepare accordingly before term starts on 4th January. 

As you know, one of the main things we've been asking you to do so far is to email our Health and Safety team. We'd still like you to do that, but please note that when you email over the break you may not get an immediate response. 

We will be checking the mailbox up until 23rd December, and will then check it after 1st January. If you email between 24th December and 1st January, we will not contact you until 2nd January at the earliest.  

If you have a confirmed case or have been asked to isolate when the College re-opens, you must not attend College until you have spoken to our Health and Safety team.  

To help you over the break, please read below for a useful summary of actions to take if you are concerned about Covid-19:

Covid Symptoms? 

The main symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) are; 

  • a high temperature 
  • a new, continuous cough 
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste 

If you have any (you do not need to have all 3) of the Covid symptoms, you will need to isolate at home for 10 days, from the day after your symptoms started. You should arrange to be tested as soon as possible and within 5 days of the symptoms starting. 

Feeling Unwell? 

If you do not have the usual Covid symptoms, but are feeling unwell and are worried it could be Coronavirus; please use the following link to access the NHS 111 symptom check service and follow the advice given. 

https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ 

How to Book a Test 

You can book a test via this link: Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus - GOV.UK 

How to tell us about your test result 

Once you have the result (Positive or Negative), you must notify us as quickly as possible by emailing our Health and Safety team. We will be checking the mailbox up until 23rd December, and will then check it after 1st January. If you email between 24th December and 1st January, we will not contact you until 2nd January at the earliest.  

Someone at Home or in Your Support Bubble with Symptoms? 

If you live with someone or have someone in your household support bubble who has Covid symptoms, you will need to isolate at home for 10 days, from the day after you had contact with the affected person.  You do not need to get tested, if you don’t have symptoms, unless a Doctor advises you to. 

If you develop symptoms yourself, you should arrange to be tested as soon as possible and within 5 days of the symptoms starting. You must then start a new period of isolation for 10 days from the date your symptoms started. 

Contact with a Confirmed Positive Case? 

If you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace or have been in contact with someone confirmed as Covid positive, you will need to isolate at home for 10 days, from the day after you had contact with the affected person.  You do not need to get tested, if you don’t have symptoms, unless a Doctor advises you to. 

If you develop symptoms yourself, you should arrange to be tested as soon as possible and within 5 days of the symptoms starting. You must then start a new period of isolation for 10 days from the date your symptoms started. 

Need More Information? 

Please visit the NHS website.

Please also let your Tutors or Line Manager know directly by email if you will not be returning at the start of term due to symptoms or isolation requirements. 

 

Updated 17 November 2020

We're aware that there are some posters on display around the College which are causing some confusion regarding use of the NHS Test and Trace app. 

The guidance for schools and colleges is that the app should only be switched off when:

  • You don't have your phone with you, for example if you're leaving it in a locker or a staff room, as that will avoid the app registering contacts when you are not with your phone, or
  • You are speaking with someone who is working behind a perspex screen, fully protected from others, or
  • You are being supported by a staff member wearing medical-grade protective equipment (like our First Aiders).

Apart from the above circumstances, the app should remain switched on.

Apologies for any confusion caused. 

 

Updated 2 November 2020

As England prepares for further lockdown starting on 5 November, the advice regarding educational settings is that schools, colleges and universities will remain open as usual. We will continue to monitor the guidance this week, but anticipate that we will remain open for teaching and learning this term. 

We look forward to seeing students return to College for the start of term on 2 November.

However, as a reminder, staff, students and any pre-approved visitors must not enter our campuses if:

  • they have Covid-19 symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 10 days
  • somebody in their houshold has Covid-19 symptoms in the last 14 days
  • the College's internal track and trace has advised self-isolation
  • NHS Track and Trace has advised self-isolation
  • they are required to complete quarantine due to recent travel to another county.

In all instances of the above, please email our Health and Safety team to tell us the circumstances, and await instructions for hope we will provide support and when they can return to campus.

We continue to follow the control measures put in place in September, which now includes wearing of face coverings on campus from 2 November onwards.

 

Updated 31 October 2020

As advised directly to students and staff before the half term break, we have taken the decision that to minimise disruption to learning and in addition to the control measures outlined in our previous post below, from Monday 2nd November we require all students and staff to wear face coverings in communal areas and while moving around indoors at our campuses.  

Face coverings do not have to be worn once in classrooms or when outside during breaks, though some students and staff may wish to do so.  

You should wear, store and wash your face covering in line with the most recent Government guidance which can be found here.

If you require any support, any of our staff will be pleased to help you. 

If you believe you are exempt from wearing a mask due to medical reasons please request a green sunflower exemption lanyard through MyDay.

 

Updated 21 September 2020

Means of control

Our campuses have been ready for students and staff to return since June. While we remain responsive to the latest Government advice and guidance, the main controls we've put in place to keep our protect our students and staff are:

Stay away policy: We respectfully ask that students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms, or living with someone with symptoms, does not come to campus.


Timetable changes: We've made changes to our normal timetables to reduce the number of students and staff on site at any one time. These changes include the addition of home learning periods for some students where appropriate.


Campus changes: We've increased the frequency and intensity of our site cleaning, and we've made changes where possible in corridors, classrooms and workshops to promote social distancing.


Isolation process: If someone develops symptoms while on site we have isolation processes and trained staff ready to help them leave the campus safely, and in a way that protects other students and staff.


Good hygiene: We've installed additional hand-sanitiser stations in reception areas and key locations around the College, and strongly support good handwashing practices.


Campus access: We're carefully managing visitor access to the campus. Our buildings are controlled environments where only people permitted on site can enter

To support us in keeping our campuses safe, please:

  • Stay at home if you have symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has. We will support you to continue your learning remotely.
  • If you're being dropped at College, please use the designated drop-off and pick-up points. People dropping you off or picking you up should remain in their vehicle while on site.
  • Please observe social distancing
  • Check your timetable, and be aware of the days and times when you are expected on site. Social areas are temporarily closed, and only students invited to attend should attend campus on any given day.
  • If you are not a student, please don't enter a campus unless you have a confirmed appointment to meet with a member of staff.