COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The welfare of our students and staff is a key priority for South West College. We recognise that this may be an anxious time for our college community. On this page you will find advice and information for students and staff about COVID-19, in line with official Public Health Agency guidance. We are continuing to monitor the evolving situation and will provide the latest updates and guidance here.

Update - 1st April

As we near the Easter break I wish to thank-you again for your hard work and dedication to your studies during this very challenging Term.  I am sure you are looking to a very well-deserved relaxing break over Easter.

Considering arrangements post Easter, as we move closer towards the end of the academic year, the need for essential face-face learning on campus may increase.  Accordingly, we are planning for a phased increase of essential face-face learning following the Easter break.  In practice, this may mean that you may be required to be on campus for one/two days per week from Monday 19th April.  Your course tutor will contact you directly to advise of the specific arrangements.  Remote learning will also continue in parallel as per current arrangements.

As always, if you require support using College systems, the Digital Learning team can be contacted via email at digitalsupport@swc.ac.uk and will be happy to help.

The Student Gateway offers a range of online learning support, services, information and contact details. Please follow the link for more details.

Students, please remember in this difficult time that "It's Okay to Not Feel Okay and It's Good to Talk". Support is available to you via the ‘Inspire Students 24/7 Helpline’ on 0800 389 5362 and ‘Lifeline 24/7 Helpline’ on 0808 808 8000. 

If you need personal health advice specifically in relation to COVID-19 (coronavirus), you should call NHS 111 or download the COVIDcare app. This app is a coronavirus symptom checker and acts as an information hub specific to N. Ireland. 

I hope you enjoy a much deserved and restful Easter break.

Update - 30th March

FAO Higher Education Students

In recognition of the associated costs involved with online learning the College will be making a one-off discretionary Covid Disruption payment of £500 to all eligible Full-Time Higher Education students.

If you have already submitted your bank account details to claim your £60 Digital COVID payment we will use the same bank details to process this £500 payment. You do not need to re-submit your bank details.

If you have not submitted your bank account details for the £60 COVID payment to be processed, please continue to check your college email account as a reminder communication, along with the updated link to submit your bank details, which will be issued later this week.

We plan to have all payments processed by 30 April 2021.

*Please check your college email for further details.

Update - 11th March

We recognise that you have had to live with a lot of uncertainty over the past year and that you will be keen to know how and when grades will be awarded. The Awarding Organisations are still refining the process and we will share their final decision when we have it.    

We know that your tutors will award grades based on a range of evidence from each student.  We ask you to be patient as tutors are not permitted to indicate what a final grade might be - so please don’t ask them.  

Awarding Organisations continue to refine their processes to make them as fair as possible and to ensure that no student is disadvantaged.  We will share their final decisions with you when we have been informed. 

In the meantime, it is vitally important that you continue to engage, attend online classes and complete tasks and assessments as required.  The work you do will form the basis of tutor professional judgements and will contribute towards the grades achieved.  

The College will convene Internal Assessment Panels to confirm grades that have been subjected to internal moderation.  Once grades have been agreed by the College, each awarding organisation will verify these decisions by sampling the grades awarded and the evidence presented i.e. your work!    

If you have issues or any concerns you should contact your tutor.  We want to work with you to achieve positive outcomes and your tutors are happy to discuss how you are progressing and what more you can do to achieve.  

Update - 5th March

In line with Government guidelines learning will continue online until at least Friday 9 April.  Course tutors will remain in touch to advise of arrangements for accessing lessons and course materials. 

In a small number of areas however, there is now a need to deliver a very limited amount of essential face-face learning, primarily in workshops.

Therefore we are starting to plan for very limited essential face-face learning commencing Monday 15 March. Your course tutor will contact you directly to let you know if this is applicable to you and to advise you of specific arrangements.

As always if you require support using College systems, the Digital Learning team can be contacted via email at digitalsupport@swc.ac.uk and will be happy to help.

The Student Gateway offers a range of online learning support, services, information and contact details. Please follow the link for more details. 

Learning Resource Centres will be open on a limited basis to facilitate exceptional access for students who have no facilities to connect remotely at home. Students should book into these in advance using the BookAPC.

Students please remember in this difficult time that "It's Okay To Not Feel Okay and It's Good To Talk". Support is available to you via the ‘Inspire Students 24/7 Helpline’ on 0800 389 5362 and ‘Lifeline 24/7 Helpline’ on 0808 808 8000.

If you need personal health advice specifically in relation to COVID-19 (coronavirus), you should call NHS 111 or download the COVIDcare app. This app is a coronavirus symptom checker and acts as an information hub specific to N. Ireland. 

Update - 2nd March

Online learning has been essential in continuing your studies over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. In recognition of the logistics and costs involved with online learning, the College will be making a one-off discretionary payment of £60.* 

*Please check your college email for further details.

Each full time and part-time student (Further Education, Higher Education, Training for Success, Apprenticeship NI, or Higher Level Apprenticeship) who was still attending their course in January 2021 will receive a payment into their bank account in the coming weeks. 

The College’s finance department will contact you via your South West College email account to ask for your bank details, your name, student number and course to verify eligibility. Please know that this is a legitimate request and reply as soon as you can as this will allow the payment to be made as promptly as possible. 

For further information on these payments please read more here

COVID-19 FAQ's

Why do we have to wear a face covering, at all times, on campus now?  

With the emergence of new variants (up to 70% more transmissible) of the COVID-19 virus the Department of the Economy has mandated that all staff and students should now wear a face covering, at all times, on campus unless they have a College agreed exemption.    

The College are legally obliged under Health and Safety law to provide a safe and healthy working environment and employees are also legally obliged to comply with measures implemented by the employer to ensure the health and safety of all.  The wearing of face coverings is our way of protecting each other and limiting the spread of the virus.  

Do I have to wear a face covering if I have asthma?  

Most people with asthma, even if it’s severe, can manage to wear a face covering for a short period of time, and shouldn't worry if they need to wear one. Wearing a face covering does not reduce a person’s oxygen supply or cause a build-up of carbon dioxide. You may have read stories that say that it can, but this isn’t true. (Source Asthma UK) 

Who qualifies for a College exemption?  

If you have a severe respiratory condition (such as chronic asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis) which means you cannot wear a face covering you can qualify for a College Exemption.  

Some circumstances make it difficult for some people to wear face coverings.  In these circumstances people may have a 'reasonable excuse' not to wear a face covering.  Again this can qualify you for a College exemption.  

College exemptions can be applied for via completing this on your Health Declaration and making contact with HR. You will then be issued with an exemption card which you can insert into the back of your lanyard.    

It is important that we all respect one another and remember that the reasons for not wearing a face covering may not always be visible.  

I have a health condition and don't want to wear a face covering. What do I need to do?  

In most cases face coverings are safe for anyone to wear, regardless of health conditions.  Staff, students and visitors are expected to wear them, at all times, whilst on campus unless they have a College exemption. For those not used to wearing a face covering, they can initially feel restrictive, hot and uncomfortable, but for most, these feelings will improve in the short-term.  The College would urge you to comply with the wearing of face coverings while we all play our part to drive down transmission rates of COVID-19.    

Where should I store my face covering when I’m eating & drinking?  

Ideally you should store your face covering in a plastic bag (eg ziplock) whilst you are eating or drinking. Do not leave it on your desk or uncovered in your pocket or bag due to the risk of contamination of hands and surfaces with respiratory droplets.  Disposable face masks should be disposed of into the nearest bin.   

How often should I change my face covering?   

There is no set time, nor recommended number of face coverings you should use each day. It all depends on what you are doing.  However, if your face covering gets dirty, wet or damaged, or if you touch the inside of it, then you should change to a new one.  When you take it off to eat or drink, you should store it in a plastic bag (as described above), wash or sanitise your hands, and replace it when you have finished eating or drinking.   

Do people develop an immunity to the Coronavirus disease after being infected?  

There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.  

Once we get the vaccine can we end restrictions and lockdown?  

Not initially but as large numbers of people from at risk groups are given a vaccine, the Government will be able to examine the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths; if successful this should in time lead to a substantial reassessment of current restrictions. Given the numbers of people to be vaccinated it is likely to be many months before the full impact of the programme is seen in the community.  

Can I still spread the virus to others if I am vaccinated?  

The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent you from getting COVID-19 infection, this should reduce the chances of you being able to spread the infection by becoming ill. However, as the vaccine is new it has not yet been possible to establish if vaccination will prevent carriage of the virus in the nose and throat of people who have been vaccinated.  

If a person has received the vaccination and is subsequently notified that they have been in direct contact with a positive case - are they still required to isolate?  

Yes. While the purpose of the vaccine is to prevent you from getting COVID-19 infection, which should reduce the chances of you being able to spread the infection by becoming ill; as the vaccine is new it has not yet been possible to establish if vaccination will prevent carriage of the virus in the nose and throat of people who have been vaccinated. Therefore, the current PHA advice is, if you are a household contact of or are advised by Contact Tracing or the STOPCOVID NI App you are a close contact of a case of COVID-19 you need to self-isolate.  

For additional questions on the vaccine visit the PHA Site https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/northern-ireland-covid-19-vaccination-programme/covid-19-vaccination-programme

The Student Services contact details are below. 

Dungannon

Caroline McCaffrey

Caroline.McCaffrey@swc.ac.uk

Enniskillen

Dermott Feely 
dermott.feely@swc.ac.uk

Omagh:

Judith.McCusker@swc.ac.uk

If you need personal health advice specifically in relation to COVID-19 (coronavirus), you should call NHS 111 or download the COVIDcare app. This app is a coronavirus symptom checker and acts as an information hub specific to N. Ireland. 

Thank-you as always for your continued support during these very challenging times.

  • More detailed information and protocols for staff can be found
    here
  • More detailed information and protocols for students can be found here