COVID-19 General FAQ's (Coronavirus)

Updated - 15.06.20

All staff and students are asked to regularly review the FAQs provided in this website section, which is being updated on an ongoing basis with the latest information.

Even though the college campuses are closed, we will continue to provide staff and students with updates, signposting to official government and public health advice, as well as whatever reassurances we can in the midst of so much uncertainty and unease.

*URGENT UPDATE 15.06.20* See "Work Based Learning" section below.

Vocational and Technical Qualifications Update 17.04.20

GCSE and A-Levels 
 
Calculated grades will be issued for those completing their A Level, A/S level and GCSE qualifications based on a combination of information provided by the college and using statistical information.  A/S level grades will count as a stand-alone qualification but they will not contribute to final A level grades in 2021.  Grades will be awarded for GCSEs due to complete in 2020.
 
Vocational and Technical Qualifications
 
The situation for students undertaking vocational and technical qualifications is more complex and while we do not yet know exactly how awards will be graded, work is ongoing to reach an agreed way forward in the coming weeks. It is therefore important that you stay in touch with your course tutors.
 
You may be aware from recent media reports this week that England will award calculated results for vocational and technical qualifications that are used for progression to further and higher education. This is likely to include BTEC Extended Diploma and other general vocational qualifications where evidence of assessment carried out to date will be used to award grades. Should this be the case, students will receive calculated results in the summer, thus enabling everyone to progress this studies or careers  as planned. 
 
While no decision has yet been taken in Northern Ireland, I have been assured  that a decision is imminent. The College has not yet been informed if arrangements will apply for those students on the first year of a two-year course and again it is important that you continue to engage with your course tutors.
 
Skills and Competence Based Qualifications 
 
Specific qualifications based on skills and competence assessment and license to practice are likely to adopt a different approach should it not be possible to use existing evidence to calculate results. This alternative approach may use tailored assessment methods or in some cases include delaying completion of the qualification when the College reopens. 
 
I understand that the current position is not ideal and I hope you will recognise the importance of  finding a solution that is fair, transparent and  adequately reflects the work you have undertaken to date. Please be assured that all Further Educations Colleges are working together to find the best way forward. As soon as more information is available you  will receive an update.
 
A full list of courses where calculated results will apply is currently being agreed with awarding organisations and when we receive confirmation of whether your qualification fits within this list, we will be in contact with you to advise on what to do next.
 
The position on awarding results for Essential Skills qualifications is also under  consideration and we should know more in the coming week and will advise you accordingly.
 
I would ask you to continue to engage with your course team and personal tutor and follow their advice. It  is vital that you work with the College  to ensure that you have all your assessments up to date including assignments that need to be resubmitted, so that  you receive the calculated result you deserve.
 
Should you have any questions or concerns please contact your Course Tutor for further help or use the college contact form https://www.swc.ac.uk/discover/contact-us Please continue to visit the college website and the Frequently Asked Questions section for further updates.

Work Based Learning (Apprenticeships) Updated 15.06.20

On 15th June 2020 the Economy Minister announced there will be a partial reopening of College campuses. This is to ensure that students on work-based learning programmes can complete essential practical assessments that will enable them to finish their qualifications in this academic year. In South West College we will likely have a very small number of students in the areas of Electrical, Engineering, AMR and Plumbing who we plan to bring on-site in June and early July to complete these essential assessments. Over the next week the College will communicate directly with all students involved and they will be invited on to campus for this assessment process.  It is likely that other areas, including essential hairdressing and beauty assessments, will follow later in the summer.

Over the past number of months, very intensive work has been undertaken in the College to ensure all necessary measures are put in place to prepare campuses in line with current Covid-19 guidance. This is to ensure we fully protect the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff on return to site.

If you have any further questions about Work Based Learning programmes please contact your Training Support Officer:

Dungannon Campus
Barry Canavan – 077 331 4286
Denise Gourley – 077 3346 4434
Marie Holmes – 073 9173 8239
Hannah McGilly - 073 917 38223

Enniskillen Campus
Ashley Farrell – 073 9173 8238
Evelyn Slevin – 073 9173 8226
Marie Holmes – 073 9173 8239

Omagh Campus
Germain Kelly – 073 9173 8228
Barry ONeill – 077 5983 9619
Louise Henry – 073 9173 8229
Elaine Hawkes – 077 3995 1972

Teaching

All forms of face to face teaching will cease with immediate effect until further notice. All teaching and associated material will be provided online as far as possible, normally via the Canvas VLE environment.

Assessment

We are currently working hard to identify alternative forms of assessment recognising that it is highly unlikely that on campus assessment will be possible in the near future. Contingency planning for any necessary changes to normal arrangements is in progress and will be communicated as soon as possible.

Learning Resource Centres

All Learning Resource Centres will be closed.

Working from home

In line with advice from the UK Government, the College has transitioned to a working from home model where possible in line with local Business Continuity Plans. Please refer to advice from Information Services to prepare for working from home. Some areas of College operation cannot be conducted remotely. Many staff will already have discussed this with line managers and understand their role in this context. All staff will be contacted directly by local management to clarify what is expected of them over the coming days.

Colleagues will be expected to provide as much flexibility as possible when working from home and understand that they may be asked to work according to a rota or perform functions normally outside of their remit as the situation requires.

Wellbeing services

We understand that this situation may be worrying, especially if you have family or friends in the affected areas.

If you’d like to speak to somebody, further advice, support and information is available from:

For other contact details in relation to wellbeing click here

We also continue to encourage all staff to continue to refer to the Public Health Agency website for the latest advice as this is constantly changing. Please note the following key changes to the health advice that were announced by the Government on 16 March:

  • If you have a high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough, you and all members of your household must stay at home for 14 days.

We would also remind you of the following measures already implemented which remain in place:

Social Distancing

You can read the latest guidance on social distancing here.

Events

All events on campus from Wednesday 18 March to Sunday 31 May will be cancelled or postponed. This position will be reviewed regularly and may be extended in advance of 30 April.

The College's Management Team fully appreciates that the implementation of these measures will raise many questions for both staff and students. Please bear in mind that in this fluid and rapidly evolving situation it is not possible to provide answers to all potential questions. We will provide further advice and guidance as soon as possible.

Keeping our people safe and well

What action is the College taking to keep students and staff safe and well?

We have followed all PHA advice and guidance and are communicating regularly with our staff and students. There is more information regarding these measures elsewhere on this page.

  • Moving all teaching material online and ceasing face to face teaching and learning activities
  • Identifying alternative forms of assessment in the event that exams can not take place
  • Cancellation/postponement of all field/Erasmus trips
  • Advising against all but essential travel.
  • Asked staff and students to adopt social distancing
  • Cancellation of all events
  • Established a working from home model in line with local Business Continuity Plans.
  • Closing key public areas as outlined

I am concerned about the impact on my mental health or that of my colleagues, what should I do?

We ask that all members of staff and students remain calm and respectful of others during this pandemic. It is a stressful time for many of us so please be sensitive to the impact it may be having on the mental health of friends and colleagues and offer any support that may be needed. This article from the World Health Organisation may be helpful.

Should I be adopting social distancing?

In accordance with public health guidance, we now advise staff and students to maintain at least a 2 metre physical distance from others. You can read the latest guidance on social distancing here.

Information and support

Where can I find the latest information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

This is an evolving situation and staff and students are asked to continue to visit and regularly check the following websites for the latest updates and guidance:

Where can I access health advice in relation to COVID-19?

Please follow advice published on the PHA website.

Northern Ireland now has full access to the NHS 111 helpline service on coronavirus. Callers should press 1 when they are advised. This service is provided in Northern Ireland solely for coronavirus guidance and not for other conditions. 

In the case of medical emergency, call 999.

What precautions should I be taking?

It makes sense to practice good hygiene and follow advice published on the PHA website.

Like seasonal flu, the same public health advice applies for COVID-19 (Coronavirus): if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose, throw it away carefully after use, and wash your hands.

Washing your hands regularly will help prevent flu and other viruses spreading. 

If you do become unwell with flu or flu-like symptoms, you should stay at home - most cases of flu are likely to be mild and can be managed at home with over-the-counter remedies. For most people it will have resolved within a week but the latest guidance advises you and all members of your household to stay at home for 14 days. If symptoms persist, you should phone your GP.

It is also important to remember that a course of antibiotics won’t help your cold or flu. Cold and flu are viruses and antibiotics are useless against them. 

If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 14 days from when your symptoms started - read the public health guidance setting out what you should do if you experience such symptoms.

Your wellbeing is the College’s first priority. Please do not let any concerns about your work or studies stop you taking this advice.

I am anxious about COVID-19 - what support is available?

We understand this news will cause concern and anxiety among our students, staff, and the wider community. 

Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the continued health and wellbeing of our staff and students. 

We are working closely the Public Health Agency, who are responsible for taking the lead in any public health issue of this nature.  

We are also signposting staff and students to regular updates from PHA. There are a number of support services available which can be accessed via the Student Support and Engagement Team.

If you are a student concerned as a result of COVID-19, please contact Free Confidential and Immediate Support 24/7 on 0800 389 5362 or email

support@inspirewellbeing.org or via the Inspire Hub on inspiresupporthub.org/students

I have contacted the NHS 111 helpline and have been advised to self-isolate - what do I need to do?

The Public Health Agency has provided advice on self-isolation. Read the advice on the Public Health website here and on gov.uk here.

I am worried about the information circulating on social media, what should I do?

You should only refer to the latest guidance from the Public Health Agency, and other official authorities. The accuracy of information circulating on social media can not be verified and we ask all members of the SWC's community to remain calm and follow the official advice only.

Please do not contribute to the circulation or sharing of rumour on social media as this is unhelpful and causes unnecessary anxiety.