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Update in relation to the new academic year

2020-21 academic year

Dear student,

As you will have seen in the media, England is now in a second lockdown, intended to stem the rise in cases of Corona Virus across the country. Whilst this means many day-to-day activities will not be possible, the government has made clear that schools, colleges and universities should remain open. I wanted to take this opportunity to outline what this means for your studies over the next few weeks. This letter contains important information so please take the time to read it all, but to summarise:

Since we returned to UCO in September, the aim of all staff has been to provide as much face-to-face teaching as possible, whilst ensuring the safety of all students and staff on campus. To date, we have had very few positive cases of Corona Virus on-campus, and that is thanks in large part to the efforts of everyone in ensuring the government guidance of Hands, Face, Space has been followed. As we move into the new lockdown, it is our intention to continue to provide as much face-to-face teaching as we can, whilst adhering to all national guidance.

We recognise of course, that people have a range of different circumstances that may influence whether they are able to be, or whether they want to be on campus. We don’t believe a one-size-fits-all approach is the right one, so we have encouraged all our course teams to work with their own students to identify the best approach, in terms of delivering classes. For some students, this might mean more online delivery, whilst for others, maintaining as much face-to-face as possible is important. I would encourage you to speak to your tutors about your personal circumstances if you would rather not attend classes on campus.

We place the health and well-being of all of our staff and students at the forefront of all our decisions, and we recognise of course that our staff may also be significantly affected by the impact of the virus. If staff are unable to attend the campus in person, arrangements will be made for delivery to take place online wherever possible. If this is not possible, arrangements will be made for either another staff member to deliver the class, or for the class to be delivered at a later date. In all circumstances, we will update you by email as soon as possible.

Over the next four weeks, we aim to maintain our on-campus operations as closely as possible to what we have delivered since September. There will need to be a change to our catering facilities however, in order to comply with government restrictions. Our café will remain open, but will provide a take-away service only – it will not be possible to use the seating area to eat or drink.

To help us ensure we can continue to offer as much face-to-face learning as possible, it is very important that you follow these basic rules to keep everyone safe:

If you have any symptoms you must not come into UCOYou should immediately get a test and let your tutor know (please see appendix one below).

Hands: Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitiser.

Face: Wear a face covering in all communal areas

Space: Maintain a two metre distance from others as much as possible

It is very important that these rules are followed not only on-campus, but also as far as is possible when you are making your way to and from campus, and at break times. Only by following these rules, can we ensure the safest environment for everyone and maintain our high levels of on-campus delivery. You may have seen in the media that many universities are delivering only online classes, or extremely limited amounts of face-to-face classes (in some cases 1-2 hours per week). From the feedback we have received from students, we know how highly you value face-to-face contact, so our aim is to maximise this for you, but we can only do this if everyone helps to keep the campus safe.

We recognise that the pandemic has presented challenges for everyone, and that for some, the rise in cases and the new lockdown will present a significant cause for concern. I want to remind you about all of the support services that are available at UCO and to encourage you to make use of them, if you feel the need. You can of course, speak to your tutor or course leader about any concerns you may have, but you can also access our health & well-being officer, disability officer and academic development team, who are here to provide you with advice and support throughout this challenging time:

Laura Macmillan – Disability Officer (Laura.Macmillan@oldham.ac.uk)  

Charlotte Moran – Health & Well-being Officer (Charlotte.Moran@oldham.ac.uk)

Academic Development Team (asc@oldham.ac.uk)

You can also access online resources through the Student Space website.

Despite the new lockdown, I want to assure you the entire team at UCO remains completely committed to ensuring we provide an outstanding education for you and to supporting you to achieve your potential. Please do speak to your course team or the wider support team if you have any concerns or questions at all. We will always do our best to help wherever we can.

By working together, we can continue to maintain a safe campus and can support each other to get through this period.

I hope you and your families stay safe. Please follow the new rules in relation to the lockdown both off and on-campus and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Best wishes



Helen Mathers


Vice Principal HE and Higher Skills


Appendix 1 – Information required in the event of self-isolation or a positive Covid-19 test

Please remember, if you develop any symptoms of Covid-19, you must not come to UCO. Instead, you should self-isolate at home and arrange a test as soon as possible. Symptoms of Covid-19 include:

In the event that you need to self-isolate for any reason, you should contact your tutor as soon as you can to advise them. This will ensure we can put the right support in place to help you to continue your studies from home if you are well enough.

When contacting your tutor, please provide the following information:

Name:
UCO student ID number:
DOB:
Home postcode:
Date of test (not the day you received the results):
Date when you became symptomatic:
Date when you were last on Campus:
What were the symptoms: i.e. temperature, new continuous cough, loss of taste, smell:
Any siblings/close contacts at UCO: