Message from the Principal
This is a difficult and anxious time for everyone. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak there are concerns for the health and safety of our students, colleagues, friends and family. I would like to assure you that the health and wellbeing of our staff and students and the wider society remains our top priority. In a rapidly changing situation staff across the College having been working very hard to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to comply with official guidance, provided by the Public Health Agency and Foreign and Commonwealth Office websites.
In order to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our staff and students we have taken the following decisions:
Remote study: We will cease all face-to-face academic activity effective from tomorrow. From Wednesday 18th March, onwards we will engage with the students remotely. This action is in-line with the local universities.
Social Distancing: In accordance with public health guidance, we now advise staff and students to try, where possible, to maintain a reasonable physical distance from others. This also means that students should NOT be on campus until further advised.
Placements : It also means there is no requirement to continue with placements and obviously all visits will cease. We will contact host organisations directly but if you are in touch with individual teachers or staff you can help us contact schools/organisations by letting them know. You may wish to return to school or placement tomorrow to collect personal belongings or return items but please only do so if the organisation is happy and it is considered safe for you to do so, considering your own health and those around you.
No disadvantage at the point of assessment: Assessments may need to be adjusted in the light of these and other changes. We are taking steps to ensure that students whose studies may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are not disadvantaged at the point of assessment.
International Student Community: We have already advised international students to make arrangements to return home because of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. The International Office will provide students with the necessary support and guidance.
Our primary focus has always, and indeed will always be, the health and wellbeing of our staff, students and our wider College community. We are constantly monitoring and implementing all current government advice and would urge you personally to check the PHA website regularly for updates https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus Following government advice to help keep each other safe is critical.
We would like to remind you that Student Support is available during this time and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 028 9038 4510 / 028 9038 4401. Also counselling services are available, should you require them, free of charge, through our partner organisation ‘Inspire Students’; ‘Inspire Students’ can be contacted 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, all year round on 0800 389 5362, or by email at email@example.com
We are aware that is a very stressful time for us all and we would ask you to be sensitive to the impact that this situation may be having on the mental health and wellbeing of others, including friends and family. This article from the World Health Organisation may be helpful. If there is anything at all we can do to help or support you at this difficult and challenging time please do not hesitate to ask.
Please note further guidance and updates will be issued to staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank staff and students for their cooperation at this difficult time. As a College community we need to remain calm and vigilant and continue to support each other as we move into these uncharted waters. We all have an important role to play in order to minimise the impact of the virus.
With thanks and best wishes
Professor Anne Heaslett
Principal, Stranmillis University College
Please find below some frequently asked questions and answers.
The College has been working proactively to put in place contingency measures to provide teaching via digital means to ensure that our students’ education will not suffer unduly as a result of the outbreak. We are identifying alternative modes of delivery for these other forms of teaching and any changes will be advised through individual programmes or modules.
Normal attendance requirements will be suspended for the remainder of this term and possible longer. Most teaching material will be delivered via Canvas VLE or other digital platforms. Check your Canvas announcements for updates and College email for specific instructions.
We are aware that students will have received a differing number of visits and have been unable to complete the full period required in schools. We are actively looking at ways in which we can come to a fair decision for all with regards to your placement grade this year and would reiterate that assessments may need to be adjusted in the light of these and other changes. We are taking steps to ensure that students whose studies may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are not disadvantaged at the point of assessment.
It is more important than ever in this changing environment that you check College emails regularly. Please do so and if you use other informal means of communication such as module or course WhatsApp groups or social media then please encourage everyone in your class or year group to check official College emails. Vital information will be communicated through email in the coming days and weeks and it is important you keep checking it regularly.
In order to ensure the well-being and safety of all students and staff, the Library will close with immediate effect and will be closed until further notice. It may be some time before Library staff are able to discharge all items, so please ignore any overdue notices you may receive. During the closure period, all fines will be waived so don’t be alarmed if you see these accumulating on your account.
Students, except those living in Halls of Residence, should NOT be on campus until further advised. Technology and Design workshops are currently closed.
We are currently working hard to identify alternative forms of assessment should they be needed. Unless advised otherwise, the current examination/assessment schedules will continue as published. Contingency planning for any necessary changes to normal arrangements is in progress and will be communicated as soon as possible.
Please also note that specific arrangements for assessments are being finalised and we will prioritise alternative modes of assessment for those students who find themselves unable to attend examinations. Consideration is being given to Semester 2 assessments and any potential scope for revision, however no change is planned to semester dates for students at this stage. Any module changes whether in terms of content, assessment or delivery will be communicated to students as soon as possible. If the delivery of a module or the content contained in an assessment are affected by the move online, this will be taken into account, where appropriate, when the work is marked.
All degree enhancement courses will be postponed and will hopefully be provided as soon as circumstances permit. Please check the Degree Enhancement Course on Canvas VLE for announcements and your Stranmillis email account for updated information.
Plans for graduation remain unchanged at this point.
All field trips and travel planned for the immediate future are cancelled. Where trips have been planned for future travel, the situation is being monitored and kept under review.
We are following all Public Health Agency advice and guidance and we will continue to take direction from them in all aspects of this situation. We are monitoring the situation closely and we continue to provide staff and students with as much advice, care and support as we can. Additional hand sanitiser facilities have been put in place across the campus.
The University continues to remain open.
We understand that students and their families are justifiably concerned about the coronavirus. We want to reassure you again that we are following all PHA guidance and that we are monitoring the situation continuously and will continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our College community.
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.
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:
- Public Health Agency website
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website
- Gov.UK website
- The World Health Organization
Please follow advice published on the PHA website.
Students may also find helpful information on the Queen’s University website COVID-19 (Coronavirus): FAQs For Students And Staff
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.
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, if not you should phone your GP. If you have travelled to any of the high-risk countries listed on the PHA website, please follow the information given under PHA advice for travellers.
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), please 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.
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, students and visitors.
We are working closely with 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 Student Support
Student Wellbeing and Support:
Students are being reminded that Student Support continues to be offered. The team can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 028 9038 4510. Should you require counselling services then these are available free of charge through our partner organisation ‘Inspire Students; Inspire Students can be contacted 24/7 on 0800 389 5362, or by email at email@example.com. We are aware that is a very stressful time for us all and ask you to 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.
The Public Health Agency has provided advice on self-isolation. Read the advice here.
You should only refer to the latest guidance from the Public Health Agency, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other official authorities. The accuracy of information circulating on social media can not be verified and we ask all members of the Stranmillis 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.