Chesterfield College principal says safety of students and staff is priority in resuming face to face learning

There has been a lot of debate about how schools, colleges and universities can safely re-open their doors.The risks posed by Covid-19 have to be balanced against the educational need for students to return to schools and colleges to provide them with the best chance of a successful future.

Chesterfield College students in the art and design department.
Chesterfield College students in the art and design department.

New approaches to teaching and learning have already been seen and these will continue to develop to enable students to be safe as well as benefitting from being part of a physical learning community.

During lockdown, it has been a pleasure to see the way students have engaged in online learning and the creative ways in which staff have delivered virtual lessons and wellbeing services. Of course, it is harder for some students to access this virtual world which is one reason we need to find a solution to open places of learning as soon as it is safe.

The team at college has started planning and putting safety measures in place for a return to some face-to-face learning. As well as following government safety advice, we have asked staff and students for their views on the measures we can take to help them to feel safe when in college.

The safety and wellbeing of all students and staff is our number one priority. Every measure possible is being considered and implemented to provide a safe environment to work and learn including smaller class sizes and zoning the college buildings to maintain social distancing. We are also continuing to further enhance online learning. This will provide a flexible approach to delivering lessons in class or virtually to meet individual student needs and choices.

I hope the steps we are taking will help students to feel calm and confident about coming into college and continuing with their studies in the classroom as well as at home. It is so important that both new and existing students feel safe and are able to focus on their studies without feeling anxious.

Pausing education can have a big impact especially when tough economic circumstances may be on the horizon. Having the appropriate skills and qualifications can provide an edge in the jobs market and support with progressing to higher levels of study. I would encourage all students to finalise their plans for September and apply for courses now.