Student FAQs: COVID-19

January return to College

Continuing with face-to-face learning and teaching is of course our priority and I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of Government advice and guidance which states that vaccinations and regular testing are the best ways to protect you and your loved ones.

Before you return to college the week commencing Tuesday 4 January we encourage you to receive your vaccination, or top up if appropriate, and ensure you have taken a lateral flow test (LFT) 48 hours prior to your return to campus and on the morning of your first day back.  If you receive a positive test result and are therefore required to self isolate the updated guidance states that providing you have isolated for 7 days and have received 2 negative LFT one on day 6 and one on day 7 (taken 24 hours apart) then you are no longer required to self isolate. Please view the updated guidance here.

LFT kits are available from reception points across all B&FC sites if you would like to collect one. We will be offering you the opportunity to partake in random testing in the New Year if you wish to participate.

For students who have exams scheduled for January please be assured that these will continue as planned within full Covid secure environments, remember to take a LFT before coming into college to sit your exam.

If you are studying on a Higher Education programme and are unable to sit an exam due to COVID related issues, then please complete the Personal Mitigating Circumstances form.

Onsite learning – All Students 

B&FC will continue with on-site learning and your curriculum area will confirm your scheduled onsite work schedule, this may include the opportunity for planned online delivery to support your learning and assessment activities.  

Your curriculum area will have been in touch to give you details of your onsite timetable, which may include the opportunity for some planned online delivery.

If you are required to self-isolate during any period we will continue to provide you with learning access and materials, wherever possible we will try and ensure this is live online.

You should ensure that you attend all planned sessions, suitably prepared and in an appropriate learning environment. Please inform your tutor if you are likely to encounter any barriers.

Degree level including higher and degree apprenticeships (higher education)

Our priority is to ensure that your learning experience is enjoyable and safe during the next academic year. We have robust plans ready to put in place should Government restrictions mean we need to shift to a blended learning approach.

Learning and teaching will return to classroom based face to face learning, from September 2021, as detailed for your programme on our website here

Your curriculum area will be in touch to give you the precise details of your onsite timetable.

Students requiring specialist equipment or resources

If your programme of study requires access to specific resources or software, please discuss with your curriculum team and B&FC will provide support where reasonable and in line with Government advice and guidance.

National booking service open for 16 to 17 year olds to book booster vaccinations

16- and 17-year-olds can now book COVID-19 booster jab appointment online

Since the vaccination programme rolled out to this age group in August 2021, more than 889,700 teens – seven in 10 people aged 16 and 17 – have had their first dose. More than 600,000 in this age group have also had their second jab.

Invites will be sent out this week encouraging people in this group to book their appointment through the online booking service, calling 119, or by finding their nearest walk-in site as soon as they can.

Information: vaccinations for students working in health and social care

A reminder that from Friday 1 April 2022, all Health and Social Care students aged 18 and over who wish to undertake a placement in any CQC registered setting will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

It is possible that these settings will expect the same for 16 and 17-year-olds, and so we ask that all students are reminded to take up the vaccination offer, with a first dose needed by 3rd February 2022 to enable students to have their second by 1st April.

Please see the following guidance for further information

Expectations

PLEASE NOTE: Even though Plan B restrictions are coming to an end in England and the government has announced that face masks will no longer be required in any classroom from Thursday 20th January 2022, our face mask policy at B&FC remains UNCHANGED.

In order to provide a safe, inclusive and fully rewarding college experience, B&FC requires you to continue to wear a face covering whilst indoors on B&FC premises. This means you will have access to all resources, and be able to continue with your face to face learning and contribute to keeping the whole community safe from transmission. This layer of protection means that you can participate in all the learning and social activities you would expect when starting or returning to college.

On arriving at your campus please ensure you follow all Health and Safety requirements. If you do not have a face covering these are available at reception points.

Remember that new variants can be more transmissible, so please wear a face covering, wash your hands regularly, keep enclosed areas well ventilated and always follow health and safety guidelines. If you receive a positive lateral flow test and/or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test you must follow the guidance available here.

Your age or vaccination status does not over-ride the need to self-isolate if you are COVID positive.

As a result of the increase in transmission rates the NHS has reopened recruitment for both paid and volunteer roles to support existing vaccine teams in protecting those who need it. There are now additional opportunities to volunteer to support the accelerated rollout, with a range of flexible roles available with full training provided. The roles available are all flexible and range from vaccinators (paid and volunteer) and registered healthcare professionals to healthcare support workers, administrators and steward volunteers. 

Further information on the type of roles available and how to sign up is available on the NHS website

NHS Covid pass

An NHS COVID Pass shows your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination details or test results. This is your COVID-19 status. You may be asked to show your pass to travel abroad, or at events and venues in England asking for proof of your COVID-19 status. 

Full details on how to obtain an NHS COVID pass and demonstrate your COVID-19 status can be found here.

Face coverings

PLEASE NOTE: We will be asking you to continue wearing a face covering indoors at B&FC despite the recent government announcement (19/01/22).

At B&FC we have a very detailed series of actions to minimise the potential for any transmission on B&FC premises, this includes the continued use of face coverings, increased ventilation, social distancing and more frequent hand washing. B&FC is choosing to continue to operate the most comprehensive level of risk management. The current policy, which is that cloth face coverings must be worn in all shared indoor areas, including workshops, classrooms and corridors remains unchanged regardless of any vaccination status or recent government advice (unless you qualify for an exemption card).  If you have an exemption card and wear an appropriate lanyard you will be expected to wear a face visor or shield, it is noted that these do not offer the same level of protection to a cloth face covering but do offer some mitigation. In the unlikely event that you cannot wear either then other mitigations may be considered, including the option to learn remotely.

Any medical exemptions which applied previously will continue.

Please be reminded to thoroughly wash your hands before putting on or taking off a face covering, you should not touch the front of the face covering during use or when removing it.

Temporary face coverings should be disposed of in a ‘black bag’ waste bin (not recycling bin).

Reusable face coverings should also be stored in individual, sealable plastic bags between use. Please be advised to carry a spare face covering in case one gets wet. If you need a spare face covering, please contact your tutor or reception team. B&FC will provide a face covering if requested.

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering you must present the exemption certificate at a reception point, where you will be issued with an appropriate lanyard and a face visor.

Travelling to College

Please follow the national advice and guidance for using public transport.

B&FC encourages you where possible to walk or cycle to College, which provides the opportunity for regular exercise which contributes to our wellbeing.

Remember, unless you are exempt some transport providers may require you to wear a face covering.

For the health, safety and wellbeing of our College and wider community it is critical that your behaviour on, and travelling to, campus is respectful of:

Now, and more than ever, respect, consideration and tolerance are at the forefront of our shared values.

Wellbeing on campus

COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Testing

Regular testing is a very practical way in which we can all keep each other safe in our B&FC community.  The data indicates that 1 in 3 people with COVID have no symptoms.  The government advice is that we should test twice per week.  

In line with Government advice and guidance B&FC will initially offer Lateral Flow Device tests (LFD) to all our students, these should be spaced 3-5 days apart. These tests are voluntary but are strongly recommended.

Home testing kits are also available. Your tutor can advise on how to get these kits. B&FC strongly recommends that you take these tests twice a week . The health and safety of our college, and wider community relies on us all being proactive to defeat this virus

You are required to report the results of all lateral flow home testing kits on the government website here, even if negative or void. If you have a positive test you must inform your curriculum area and follow the appropriate advice and guidance about self isolation.

The Department for Education expects anyone testing positive with a lateral flow test administered at home, to take a PCR test.

How to organise a PCR test.

I have had a COVID-19 vaccine. Should I still be tested?

We strongly encourage you to be regularly tested for COVID-19 whether or not you have been vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines do not guarantee protection against the virus. And anyone infected can transmit it to others.

Therefore we strongly encourage all students to be tested regularly against COVID-19.

What are the new rules on contact tracing if there is a positive COVID case?

Please see the attached letter from the Department for Education and the NHS here.

Will food and drink be available?

All eateries will be fully open for 6 September 2021.

Will temperature checks be undertaken?

Yes, random temperature checks will take place across all campuses.

Is B&FC a smokefree college?

Yes.

As part of our commitment to providing every member of the B&FC community with a healthy and safe environment, we have made all our campuses no smoking.

This means smoking of all kinds - including vapourisers and electronic cigarettes - is strictly forbidden.

If you need support in quitting smoking, there are many support services available:

 

Your wellbeing

We understand that many of you will be feeling anxious. Please do reach out to colleagues, friends and family and support each other.

The College’s student support services also remain available to all members of the community.

Supporting students

Still looking for the answer to your question? Email us at info@blackpool.ac.uk.

 Digital support

How can I access online learning?

Whilst the majority of learning will take place via face to face sessions there may be some opportunities for online learning.

Online and distance learning will be provided to support students with their learning, using the College’s Virtual Learning Environment (Canvas), OneFile, B&FC email and/or Microsoft Teams.

What you'll need

  • Computer or other device capable of connecting to the internet.
  • Wi-Fi or broadband connection.
  • Webcam and microphone (can be integrated).

To get started

  1. Activate your college Office365 email address
  2. Download Office365 applications including Outlook (for email) and Teams (for working with your tutor and fellow students). To log in to Office 365, go to https://www.office.com/ and use your college username and password.
  3. Log on to Canvas - your virtual learning environment. 

Support accessing digital resources

  • Technical issues? Contact IT Services 01253 504222.
  • Need advice on using these resources? Contact your tutor.

How can I get help with Canvas (the College's virtual learning environment)?

Problems accessing Office 365?

If you've double checked your username and password, visit the Microsoft 365 Service health status page here

If the page says there are currently no known issues, or you need a password reset, contact the IT Service Desk.

How do I contact IT Services?

  • If you're having issues logging in to your account, or need to reset your password, call IT Services on 01253 504222. This line can be busy at times, and you may be asked to leave a voicemail. If this occurs please ensure you leave a name, student number (if applicable), and contact number so that a member of the team can get back to you. Please be prepared to verify your identity for security purposes.
  • For any other issues, please raise a request on the IT Service Desk Portal.

The Learning Resource Centres

All LRCs are now open and no booking slots are required. 

If you require a specific (hard copy) text from a different LRC/campus it can be ordered and made available at a campus of your choice.

You are also able to browse books, though we recommend doing this online in advance using your library catalogue

If you need assistance in locating the relevant resources an Adviser is on hand to help in your Teams Virtual Library Channel.

If you require a specific eBook, email LRCs@blackpool.ac.uk. Don't forget to include your student ID number.

Accessing LRCs

We have dedicated computer and quiet areas at our campuses within the Learning Resource Centres (LRC’s) to support your digital learning. 

To avoid disappointment, we recommend you book in advance but you can attend without a booking.

To book in advance please follow the links below:

Alternatively, we offer access to our iLockerz laptop cabinet for you to borrow a device for the day, these can be taken to your learning sessions.

Staying safe online

We support students in 'Being Safe and Feeling Safe', and this includes staying safe online. With the increased use of the internet here are some links to additional resources: 

  • Cyberaware is the UK government's advice on how to stay secure online during coronavirus. This site gives you guidance on how to follow their six top tips for staying safe online. 
  • The National Crime Agency has developed some useful resources helping parents, carers and guardians support their students safely and securely get the most from the web. The Thinkuknow website (thinkuknow.co.uk) provides you with tools and tips to keep young people safe online. You’ll also find advice handling situations where you think students might be in difficult situations.
  • saferinternet.org.uk includes tips, advice, guides and resources for non-experts to help keep safe online. Advice and resources are here to support you as you support your child to use the internet safely, responsibility and positively. 
  • childline.org.uk this is a great resource to help you keep safe, and what to do when things go wrong. Some of the topics covered are tips to staying safe online, keeping your information secure, and how to spot fake news.  
  • ceop.police.uk is for safely and securely reporting online sexual abuse, whether you have been the victim of online sexual abuse or you’re worried this is happening to someone that you know.  
  • reportharmfulcontent.com guides you through reporting and removing harmful material from social media. 
  • Lancashire Safeguarding features essential advice for parents, carers and guardians.

Beware phishing coronavirus scams

Phishing is the process of tricking someone into providing their personal information such as credit card numbers, social security/national ID numbers or other financial data.

Phishing is on the rise due to hackers taking advantage of the fear and anxiety caused by the global pandemic.

Usually, once the victim has provided the information, it is used to steal their money, property or identity.

Technology supporting learning for degree-level (higher education) students

All B&FC students can access the following software via their accounts to assist them with their education: 

  • Read + Write – literacy software with tools designed to support reading, writing, study and research, which includes reader software and speech to text. 
  • Mindview – software used for mind mapping, concept mapping and other visuals. 

If you are unable to access either of these two pieces of software via your account and would like to use them, please email canvas@blackpool.ac.uk.

 Study support

Your tutor

You can contact your tutor on Canvas, Microsoft Teams, or via email.

 Alternatively, please contact your Head of Curriculum:

Apprenticeships

Email ApprenticeSupport@blackpool.ac.uk.

Wellbeing

Please fill in this short referral form and we'll be in touch.

Study support for degree-level (higher education) students

How can Higher Education Learning Mentors (HELMs) support my studies?

HELMs offer:

  • Academic development: we can help you to improve your essay planning, critical analysis and editing skills.
  • Coaching sessions to establish what your goals are and how you will reach them.
  • Hacks to save time and stay organised Individualised action plans so that you achieve the best outcomes you can.
  • English support to develop your grammar, punctuation and writing skills.
  • Valuable feedback: students who have used the HELM service have seen the quality of their work improve.
  • Employability: all of the skills you develop with your HELM will help you to reach your career goals.

How to contact HELMs

Read our letter to HE students.

Study support for 16-18 (further education) students

How do I get in touch with my progress coach? 

 Careers and employability support for degree-level (higher education) students

The Careers Team is still operating and is available to support you throughout the pandemic and beyond.

The team can help you with online support for interviews, CVs, application forms and applying for student finance.

In addition, there are lots of opportunities to learn new skills and develop your employability.

All B&FC students have free access to LinkedIn Learning offering short video courses in creative, software and business skills.

You can also access your Gradintelligence account to create or update your CV or do some psychometric tests, in addition to reviewing your electronic transcript (HE-AR).

Contact us for any careers support you need - including a personal careers guidance interview to discuss your goals, aspirations, progression options and more we can help you to formulate your ideas into a plan:

What's DegreePlus?

If you have been volunteering to support those in your local community, in response to the current situation, you may want to consider applying for DegreePlus.

You can also apply for a DegreePlus award if you are a Student Rep or maybe you have been involved in a fundraising activity?

We have a Digital DegreePlus award that will enable you to learn and demonstrate your digital skills to a prospective employer.

Any award that you successfully complete will be added to your HE-AR for the purposes of enhancing your employability.

 

 

What about placements?

Some placements have already commenced, where COVID-19 secure environments have been suitably risk assessed. From September 2021 it is anticipated that the full range of placement opportunities will recommence, subject to appropriate Government advice and guidance.

Please consult with your curriculum area for details of placement opportunities.

If you have any queries please contact your tutor or email placements@blackpool.ac.uk.

 

Who do I contact for more information?

Email info@blackpool.ac.uk.

Don't forget to include your student ID.

 

Financial support

If you don't find the information you need below, please visit our financial support pages:

Will I still receive my bursary?

Bursary payments will continue as planned.

You may be eligible to apply to the Barriers for Learning Fund - please email ssfunds@blackpool.ac.uk. 

I normally get a free meal at College. How will I access this?

If you're eligible for free meals, you will be able to access these through the college eateries from 6 September 2021.

For more information please email ssfunds@blackpool.ac.uk.

Financial support resources

There are lots of organisations providing support through financial hardship. 

Councils

Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre councils support for residents, including financial support and food bank information:

Debt support services

Food banks

Sometimes, you may need to be referred to a food bank, this can be done via the council links above and via the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

Health and wellbeing support

What if I need to self-isolate?

Please do not be concerned about your studies if you need to self-isolate. Please notify your tutor to explain your circumstances and discuss arrangements regarding your studies.

If you are a HE student and have to miss exams or assessments due to self-isolating, you will need to submit a claim for personal mitigating circumstances (PMCs).

Your tutor can help you with this.

I have a health reason or disability that prevents me from wearing a face covering

Wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

But if a health or medical condition prevents you from wearing a face covering on campus, please download an exemption card from GOV.UK.

Show the card, either in printed form or on your phone, at a main B&FC reception desk in exchange for a lanyard that lets tutors know you are exempt from wearing a cloth face covering. You will be issued with a face visor.

More information about exemption is available on the government website.

Here are several other useful resources:

Personal safety

We support students in 'Being Safe and Feeling Safe'.

If you feel unsafe or are at risk of being unsafe - speak directly to your tutor or another member of College staff that you feel comfortable talking to.

If you cannot contact anyone you wish to talk to and you feel you are at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, or feel you are at risk of danger from others, and need help:

For non-urgent medical help - Do not leave your home.  Contact the National Health Services (NHS) either by phone or online. This may be any of the following:

  • Your GP – your GP contact details will be available on-line.
  • Blackpool Urgent Treatment Centre (Walk-in Centre) 01253 953953. Please click on this link for more details Blackpool Urgent Treatment Centre Contact and Opening Times
  • NHS helpline on 111, or NHS online via 111.nhs.uk/. (Please note however, during the COVID 19 situation, the 111 service is extremely busy -expect a wait).

For situations that do not require an immediate police response: dial 101.

If you are in an emergency situation ring 999.

To report a non-urgent safeguarding concern please use the big yellow button on the Student Life SharePoint site.

 Mental health support

Local information and resources

  • Together all - a digital mental health support service available 24/7. This is a free completely anonymous service that allows you to access peer support and tailored self-help programmes that Blackpool and Lancashire NHS are supporting.
  • FYI Directory outlines local health, community and social services available. Accessible online at www.fyidirectory.co.uk or call 0800 0922 332, a simple postcode search, allows you to find the nearest services to you.
  • Healthy Young Minds is a network including NHS Lancashire and Cumbria NHS offering advice, guidance and support related to mental health and emotional wellbeing. A topic page for COVID-19 has been created specifically aimed at young people Lancashire and South Cumbria Healthy Young Minds.

National information and resources

Helplines

  • Wellbeing and mental health support helpline: 0800 915 4640 (call) and 07860 022 846 (text). Both services available 365 days a year - Monday to Friday, 7pm until 11pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 12pm until midnight.
  • CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services) NHS Support: 01253 957160 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
  • CASHER (Child & Adolescent Support and Help Enhanced Response team): 07810 696565 (Monday to Friday, 5pm to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 8pm)
  • Youtherapy – a counselling and wellbeing service: 01253 955858 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
  • Samaritans: 116123 (freephone, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
  • Young Minds: Text YM to 85258 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Local community support

Community Hubs have been set up to help support those deemed vulnerable or through self-isolation during the COVID 19 crisis, signposting residents to local services such as preventing loneliness, mental health support and financial and debt advice.

Blackpool Council hub

To offer help, email helpoffered@blackpool.gov.uk.

Wyre and Fylde and other Lancashire County Council hubs

For additional information, check out 10 ways to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.

 Advice for parents, carers and guardians

Thanks for your patience and understanding during this challenging time.

B&FC’s priority has always been to help students achieve their aspirations and enjoy a high-quality learning experience in safe and supportive environments.  

Read our 16-19 Tuition Fund Statement to find out how Blackpool and The Fylde College plans to use its 16-19 Tuition Fund allocation to support students who may have had their learning disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our students and colleagues in this difficult situation and we are committed to doing everything in our power to help students achieve their goals and ambitions. 

B&FC strongly encourages students to access lateral flow testing and to continuously monitor their status through home testing kits. These kits are available for collection at B&FC campuses.

If a student is unwell or unable to attend sessions, they must notify us by phone on 01253 504343.

Please find below the many things we are doing here at B&FC to support students with online and remote working arrangements during the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • In order to maintain continuity of learning and to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, face coverings will remain mandatory for all indoor spaces at B&FC. Where a medical exemption is evidenced alternatives may be explored, this could include opportunities for remote learning
  • B&FC reviews daily, all official guidance from the UK government, public health England and other relevant bodies and uses it to inform our support for students. We have set out below the measures that we have taken to continue to support students and deliver learning and teaching: 
  • Progress Tutors, Programme Leaders and lecturers have kept in contact with their students through phone calls, e-mails and on-line conversations. This is to check on their engagement and progress 
  • Curriculum Areas have posted onto B&FC’s social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter video updates, messages, useful tips, links and competitions 
  • B&FC’s Progress Coaches have continued to contact students to check that everything is going well and they have everything they need to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding 
  • Our Students’ Union have produced an on-line enrichment programme. Here, students can engage in competitions, communicate with their friends and show case any volunteering activities they have undertaken in the community. 
  • B&FC’s Student Support team has continued to provide a high level of study support for students 
  • The Careers Team continue to provide a full service of online careers advice, interview support, CV writing and assistance with financial matters such as bursaries, free school meals and bus passes 
  • Where possible, B&FC has supported eligible students who were unable to access a device or IT to enable them to complete online tasks by loaning out a laptop and or arranging access to WIFI 
  • B&FC has ensured that all vulnerable students have been identified and are working with a named point of contact at B&FC on a regular basis, in addition to their subject tutor 
  • B&FC colleagues have provided, and continue to develop, a comprehensive range of resources for students, to support with any wellbeing or health challenges through various online platforms and useful links to websites. We have put together a handy guide to many of the wellbeing resources

 Helping us, help you: providing feedback on your student experience

We welcome feedback from students, parents, guardians and employers about the service we provide as a college.

To provide feedback:

FDAP
Apprenticeships
European Structural and Investment Funds
Council for Independent Education
European Social Fund
Lancaster University
Matrix
Disabled Confident
QAA
STEM
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