Higher education student newsletter: 1 April 2020

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for the role you are playing as a member of the B&FC College community in pulling together during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Thank you for any comments, suggestions and concerns you are raising with us directly or by email, via your lecturers, personal tutor and programme leader, the Student Union, and your Course Rep.  Also, thank you for telling us where things are going well and where we can improve things, and for helping us to understand the particular circumstances you find yourselves in.  All this feedback helps us to develop our thinking and approach to support your learning journey.
Continuing to learn together
We appreciate that this is a worrying and difficult time and recognise that you will be understandably anxious, given the unprecedented circumstances the world faces with COVID-19. As well as your studies, you may have other responsibilities, such as caring for your family, your own health and employment.  In these circumstances, it is helpful for us all to acknowledge that it will take a bit of time to become accustomed to new ways of learning together and we appreciate that it will feel different for every student (and also for teaching staff).

As you will be aware, all teaching moved online from Monday 23 March and we will not be conducting any classroom based activity or assessments that requires students to be on campus. This decision was taken to support your health, safety and welfare and that of your fellow students and B&FC staff.  We continue to work hard to support your learning during this period.

Programme teams have been reviewing planned teaching and assessment for all modules and have been considering any changes that will be required to ensure that all assessment is aligned with online teaching delivery and that students can still achieve the learning outcomes for their programme, enabling them to progress and achieve their goals.  

Some changes will of course be necessary to planned assessments and we are now in the process of updating students on an individual programme basis. A significant change affecting many of you will be that formal examinations will change to time limited assessments completed at home. These will normally take place on the same date on which your existing assessment was scheduled. Your lecturers and programme leader will be able to provide further information, guidance and support. 

Mitigating Circumstances
We recognise that this extraordinary situation will be creating additional pressures. The 
B&FC Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) process will enable us to consider each student’s unique context to ensure no one is disadvantaged. To support, during this period, we will generally not require specific evidence/verification to support any students impacted by circumstances relating to COVID-19.  Again, your lecturers, personal tutor and/or programme leader will be able to provide further information, guidance and support.

Additional Support available online
Our HELMs service is continuing to provide wellbeing and study support online at 
HELMinfo@blackpool.ac.uk, and financial support queries can be emailed to ssf@blackpool.ac.uk. In addition, our Careers team can contacted on email careers@blackpool.ac.uk.

Supporting your learning needs remains our primary focus, and we are actively enhancing the ways in which the Learning Resource Centres (LRCs) can continue to do this online. For assistance with finding online eBooks and journals for your studies using Microsoft Teams please use the call or chat feature to contact the LRC staff member related to your studies, or alternatively email 
LRCs@blackpool.ac.uk including your student ID number in any correspondence.

Student FAQs on the B&FC website have additional information and are being updated regularly. Learning and teaching will continue online after Easter and we will do everything we can to support you to engage with learning opportunities, no matter what your circumstances. 
These are challenging times and unprecedented arrangements. I am very proud of the way our whole College community is rallying together in these difficult circumstances and appreciate the contribution you are making to this. Please continue to take care of your own wellbeing, and that of your families and friends, while following the Government’s advice regarding social gatherings and staying at home.
Best wishes,