I write to update you about the college’s continuing operation in these extraordinary circumstances. As you are aware The College of Animal Welfare has been preparing to return to face to face delivery from January 2022 for the majority of our courses.
Having considered the latest government announcements and scientific opinion concerning the new Omicron variant our risk assessment has highlighted the potential and considerable risks that we would be taking if we were to return as planned with all students and staff back in centre.
I am confident, however, that the practices and processes we already have in centre will, with modest modification, continue to allow us to carry on delivering practical’s and skills based training where student numbers are low. We remain vigilant and responsive, and of course the situation may change as our medical colleagues learn more about Omicron, but for now we will delay the full return to centre of all students. We have therefore decided that we will not be returning to full face to face delivery from January 2022.
We will continue to review the ongoing situation with the next most likely return to face to face delivery from the start of the Summer term in April.
Whilst you will not be attending face to face lectures, you will continue to be invited to attend practical skills training sessions at our centres for a day’s training in groups of no more than 15 where social distancing and appropriate PPE will be worn .
If there are more than one student group in the building at a time then they will have their own area and the groups will not be permitted to mix together at any time including breaks. Students will be expected not to share food and will be required to bring their own refreshments and drinking vessels.
Movement within our buildings is already strictly controlled with one way systems and restricted areas where appropriate. This will continue.
Students will also continue to be offered their MCQ examinations in groups sizes that will maintain social distancing in the IT suites. Where there is the option to do so students will be offered the opportunity to choose to either attend a centre for their MCQ examination or to use online invigilation.
Social distancing is required at all times when in our buildings , unless it is essential for a closer presence, and in such circumstances the wearing of PPE will continue to be mandatory, including the wearing of masks, face visor and gloves. We will issue students with their own masks (to keep) and PPE however if they wish to wear their own they may do so.
In terms of the virtual college delivery format we will continue to seek to improve the learning experience and will be launching an upgrade of our delivery software in January 2022. We will also be reducing the online class group sizes to further enhance learner engagement.
We have notified all employers of our decision to refrain from having all learners back in centre from January 2022.
The priorities of the College will be to maintain a safe environment for students using a science based rationale. Decision making will be driven by risk based planning and protocols. At the same time we will need to meet our accreditation standards whilst taking all steps to prevent and control an outbreak of COVID -19 within our community.
In order to facilitate this approach we are:
- Seeking the views of employers and students ref mandatory vaccination
- Reviewing the use of COVID 19 passports in 2022 based on government policy. Your feedback is always greatly appreciated.
To confirm our approach:
- The college will continue to implement COVID-19 protocols in centre
- Staff and students are required to participate in regular testing using lateral flow COVID-19 test kits( Min twice a week)
- Face coverings and face visors will be worn in all areas around college. Masks will be worn at all times in classrooms and during lessons
- Staff and students will be advised if unwell or if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 to not come into centre.
We plan to make checks on students proof of their test results and will be asking staff and students to take a photograph of their latest test result on their phone showing their initials and the date of the test from January 2022 so we can reassure you that we are doing everything possible to mitigate the risks associated with the virus.
Please be reassured that the safety and wellbeing of you all remains of paramount importance to us. Our safeguarding and welfare team continue to be available. If you require any support or have any concerns, please email the college at firstname.lastname@example.org
The College will continue to provide you with regular updates via the college’s website and social media channels. Please take the time to check these regularly.
Finally may I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and the hope that you stay safe and well.