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Weekly COVID-19 Update: 18/12/20

Update COVID-19: Advice to all students, parents & carers – 18/12/2020  (for Higher Education students please refer to a separate email from Alastair Wilson from the University email account sent at 1200hrs 18thDecember 2020)

Dear students, parents, and carers   

Further to my last communication to you on 11th December 2020, I would like to update you on the current COVID-19 situation in the College. 

REPORTED COVID-19 CASES: LATEST DATA

The table below gives the most up-to-date picture of COVID-19 infections at South Devon College in all areas.  

Weekly cases:1 (Total cases reported during the last 7 days – this gives an indication of the number of current cases)   
Total cases: 38 (A running total of positive/presumed positive cases reported to the College by students and staff since the first case was reported on Wednesday 7th October 2020)   

Torbay to remain in Tier 2 COVID restrictions 

The government announced yesterday that Devon, including Plymouth and Torbay will remain in Tier 2 of the local COVID restrictions. This is to help tackle the spread of coronavirus in Torbay. 

Letter

As we reach the end of an exceptional year, Caroline Diamond, Director of Public Health at Torbay Council would like to thank each of our young people and their families as well as provide a COVID-19 update. Please find a link to this letter here.

COVID-19 National Testing Programme for Schools & Colleges

Education and Health Secretaries announced on Tuesday this week that students and staff will have access to rapid testing from January to help keep them in schools and colleges. 

Building on the success of pilots in some schools and colleges over the past few months, from January all staff in secondary schools and colleges, including special schools and alternative provision, will be eligible for weekly rapid tests. This will help identify asymptomatic cases, which make up a third of all cases, limiting the spread of the virus. Students and staff who are close contacts of positive cases will also be eligible for daily testing, preventing the need for self-isolation. Only if a daily test returns a positive result will the student or staff member need to isolate. All schools and colleges will be supported to roll out testing as quickly as possible during the spring term. It is anticipated that test kits will begin arriving at secondary schools and Colleges for the first phase of rollout to staff from the first week of January. We will of course update you when we return after the Christmas break with details of when this testing process is available for South Devon College students and staff.

Changes to Teaching and Learning for all students from 5th January to 8th January2021 

Following the government announcement yesterday about a staggered return to teaching in January 2021, we have made the decision to deliver the majority of lessons online or via set work for supported home learning from the first day of the new term, Tuesday 5th January 2021 to Friday 8th January 2021 (inclusive)

During this first week of term, we will operate a staggered return, tailoring this to reflect the needs and priorities for students. For the majority, this will be full-time remote education, as close as possible to that which students would get in class. However, some students will still be asked to attend College as normal from the start of the new term on Tuesday 5th January 2021 where this is in their best interests, for example those with exams or formal assessments during January 2021 or where their learning will most successfully continue in a practical environment. Other reasons will also apply.

Tutors will contact students, parents, and carers directly on Monday 4th January 2021 to confirm individual arrangements for this week. If you have not heard from your tutor by 3pm on Monday 4thJanuary 2021, please contact them directly to ensure you know the arrangements which apply.

This online delivery or supported home learning will be formally timetabled for all students. The College will remain open to support our vulnerable learners as well as students in our High School in Year 11 and our Sixth Form in Year 13.

I hope you will understand that we are still receiving updated guidance from the Government and Department for Education at the last minute and the arrangements may change at short notice. Please do keep an eye on the South Devon College website news feed and social media channels for further updates. 

USCD Options Evening 

Those on L3 programmes will have been invited to the UCSD Options Evening on the 7th January, this event has now been rescheduled to the 14th January 2021 – same time and location

Reporting positive Covid test results

Please remember to complete the ‘Out of hours Notification of a POSTIVE COVID-19 test result’ form to alert us if you, a member of your household or other close contact identified through Track & Trace, receive a positive test result whilst the College is closed during the Christmas break.  This online form is available via our main website www.southdevon.ac.uk  

I would like to remind and reassure students, parents, and carers that each time we are alerted to a positive, or presumed positive case, we undertake a forensic risk assessment process. The College has remained open throughout this term, thanks to students and staff diligently following our COVID Secure guidelines whilst on site.

Continued communication

 As promised, we will continue to issue a weekly update of the number of confirmed cases within the College when we return in the new year. The next update of this academic year will be provided at 2pm on Friday 8th January 2021.

Thank you very much for your continuing support and I wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas break.

Yours sincerely,  

Laurence Frewin  

Principal and CEO  
South Devon College