HERE Phil Sayles, principal of Selby College, talks about the steps they've been taking to ensure a safe return for students.

While this upcoming academic year may look different to previous ones, we will do everything within our power to make students feel safe and supported upon their return or start at the college, so that we can deliver education and training, but safely.

We are really keen to welcome our students so that they can meet their tutors and the staff they will be working with, as well enable them to meet and make friends with their fellow students. After reviewing how the start of the year looks, our plan is to ease students into their existing or new programme of study to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by this change.

As a college, we are following the latest advice provided by the Government to ensure students and staff are able to work safely, although this guidance may evolve in the coming weeks and months. That is why we are ensuring our students are equipped to work independently and when necessary, from home. During the enrolment process, we spoke to our students about which technology they have access to at home and are providing them with training on how to use our systems, including Google Classrooms which will be the main digital platform for the College.

Our students responded extremely well to online learning during lockdown and this has paved the way for a more independent learning approach to be implemented going forward. This will of course be dependent on the nature and level of practical learning required for each course.

We will also be hosting several two-day inductions for different student groups from the 4th of September until the 15th of September to ensure they feel comfortable and safe to return to campus. As part of this, students will receive a digital refresher, their timetables and meet with course staff and Guidance Support Tutors (GSTs) to confirm that they are ready for the coming year. We are also asking all students to bring their own equipment, such as pens, pencils, ruler etc., as well as face coverings and hand sanitiser.

Physical changes have also been made to the campus to guarantee that all students and staff can operate safely and at a distance including sanitisation stations in every building, and students and staff should wear face masks on public transport.

We have also introduced Ten Top Safety Actions to help raise awareness of the symptoms of Covid-19 and to prevent the spread of the virus across the campus. We have made the decision to make face coverings mandatory in corridors, stairs, toilets and other indoor communal areas on the campus in the hope that these additional safety measures will help keep our students and staff as safe as possible. This will not apply to those who cannot wear masks for medical reasons.