Category Archives: Student covid

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Update on student return to campus following Government announcement

From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

As many of you will know, the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament yesterday on the roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England.   

The roadmap, combined with follow up guidance from the Department for Education, confirms that students on practical or practice-based courses that require access to specialist equipment or facilities can return to campus from 8 March but only within certain safety parameters. Because of that, not all students on practical or practice-based courses will, or can be, prioritised to return from that date. 

No matter which taught course you are studying, you will be informed by your academic school/department by week beginning Monday 1 March whether the return to face-to-face on-campus teaching applies to you or not. Please allow staff the time to put those communications together and do not make any travel arrangements or plans to return until you receive this confirmation from your school. Until then, please continue to follow your current timetable. 

These changes apply to both undergraduate and postgraduate taught students. There is currently no change to the arrangements for research students. 

In deciding which practical courses will be allowing students to return to campus for face-to-face teaching or assessment from 8 March, we have had to consider a number of factors including: 

  • the need to prioritise those who require on campus facilities or assessment as an essential part of finishing their course or fulfilling the requirements of a professional, statutory or regulatory body
  • the Government request that universities should not ask students to return if their course can reasonably be continued online
  • Government requirements to restrict travel wherever possible and increased testing for Covid-19
  • more stringent social distancing requirements limiting the capacity in teaching spaces and laboratories. 

This will mean the majority of you will continue to be taught online until the end of term, though students who do meet the existing criteria for return to campus (for health, wellbeing or study space reasons) will continue to be supported. We are currently reviewing our position regarding rent for University accommodation and will continue to work with Kent Union and GKSU on rent issues for those of you in private accommodation. 

There will be a Government review in mid-April, and, whilst that will be too late for us to offer any additional face-to-face teaching this term, we are hopeful that the roadmap will allow us to offer greater access to on-campus facilities and more on-campus events for a much larger number of students from the beginning of May. 

For those of you who are returning to study on campus from 8 March, revised guidance on travel and testing will be made available to you soon following several changes to Government requirements for those travelling from both within the UK and from abroad. 

For those students who will not be returning for the time being, we will be looking at ways we can continue to reinforce our online student experience in response to your feedback and in conjunction with Kent Union, GKSU and your course representatives. 

We will be holding a Student Web Chat next week where staff from across the University will be presenting information and offering guidance related to the recent updates in Government regulations and their implications for study. Please do sign-up online where you can send in any questions you may have in advance. 

Support, information and events continue to be advertised on our Student Guide and social media and we will continue updating our coronavirus web pages as often as we can. Please do continue to email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk with any urgent enquiries and we will respond as soon as possible. 

Finally, please can I remind you not to make any plans to travel back to your term-time address until you hear from your academic school/department that you are invited to do so or unless you meet the existing criteria (for health, wellbeing or study space reasons). 

Best wishes 

Richard 

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

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Student update ahead of Monday’s government announcement

From From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

Many of you will know that the Government is scheduled to make an announcement on Monday 22 February outlining how the national lockdown restrictions are to be eased. We expect that this announcement will include specific guidance for education providers and anticipate that it will outline the Government’s plans for university students’ phased return to face-to-face teaching on campus. 

After next week’s announcement, we will contact you as soon as possible to let you know how the Government’s latest guidance may influence your teaching arrangements, travel plans and the Covid-19 testing programme. Until then please stay where you are and continue to study online. Please do not make any plans to return to campus until we contact you confirming that it is safe and permitted for you to do so. 

Our priority now, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is the safety and wellbeing of our entire university community. We have audited all our teaching and social spaces to ensure we can accommodate 2m social distancing across campus. This has significant impacts on the capacity of our academic and social spaces for teaching and studying (eg library). 

Therefore, we have started to prioritise the return of students to campus for activities that are essential to academic progression which may include access to specialist facilities. With these exceptions, we anticipate that significant amounts of our teaching will need to remain online for the remainder of this term. However, working with Divisions we will continue to ensure that your stage and programme learning outcomes are met.   

For those of you who are already living back on campus or if you are accessing any campus facilities, please can I remind you it is vital you are tested regularly for Covid-19. Providing you don’t have symptoms, please ensure you get tested twice each week at our campus testing facilities at both Canterbury and Medway. You can also get tested at your nearest community facility. 

I will be in touch with you next week once we have assessed the impact of Monday’s Government announcement.  

Please also sign up to our next Student Web Chat on 3 March 2021 where we will discuss these issues in more detail 

With best wishes,

Richard

From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

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No detriment measures update

From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

Please note – this guidance is intended for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students only. If you are on an apprenticeship programme, please wait for further guidance from your department. 

Dear Students 

Following my email to you last week concerning our No Detriment measures, I wanted to provide more details on the approaches that have been developed to support the different circumstances you are facing in 2020/21.  

In keeping with guidance from our regulator, the Office for Students, and in line with many other universities, we are adapting our approaches this year to suit the specific impacts that Covid-19 has had on the whole of this academic year.  

Please find below answers to some of the key questions you have raised in recent days. 

What no detriment measures will be used this year? 

To ensure no student is disadvantaged because of Covid-19, our package of measures includes: 

  • More flexibility for coursework submissions and deadlines. 
  • No requirement for supporting evidence to prove the impact of Covid-19. 
  • An assurance that Boards of Examiners will offset the impact of the pandemic on your academic performance. 

This year’s measures reflect how the pandemic has affected students’ entire academic year rather than needing to mitigate for the sudden, unexpected changes to teaching from March 2020 onwards.  

Why is there no Safety Net calculation this year? 

Applying a University-wide Safety Net Calculation this year would not present a fair reflection of your academic abilities or your progress for the following reasons: 

  • The 2019-20 Safety Net Calculation, implemented in March 2020, was undertaken during a time of a sudden and unexpected disruption due to the pandemic and the need to move to remote learning.  
  • By March 2020, a significant proportion of you had completed sufficient assessments to calculate a fair and robust weighted average on which the Safety Net Calculation could be based.  
  • With national lockdowns taking place in November 2020 and January 2021 this year, there are insufficient marks already achieved to make the same calculation.  
  • Finally, academic staff planned this year’s modules and assessments to be suited for online delivery rather than needing to make unexpected changes to teaching partway through the year.  

What are the mitigations available to Boards of Examiners? 

Boards of Examiners already have powers to act to ensure there is no disadvantage to either individuals or groups of students. Boards consider individual performance as well as reviewing the performance of this year’s students against previous years.  

If Boards find evidence of an individual or group of students at a disadvantage, they already have several measures available to them. Last year, these measures were enhanced in response to the pandemic and these enhanced measures will be used once again this academic year. The full range of mitigation measures for Boards of Examiners will be published later in the term.  

In the meantime, please make sure that you complete any work that has been set to the best of your ability given your personal circumstances. 

I hope this has helped reassure you of our commitment to protecting your academic progress. Later in the term we will be revisiting this in our Student WebChat series. Please contact your student support team or our CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk mailbox if you have any urgent enquiries. 

Best wishes 

Richard 

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

  

Jar of coins

Covid-19 Hardship Fund – apply now

The Government has launched a new scheme to support current students who have experienced hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. £70m in additional funding is being provided to English universities of which Kent has been allocated £588,000.

The Covid-19 Hardship Fund can be used to support any current students who have incurred unexpected costs due to Covid-19. This could be due to a loss of income, childcare costs, travel or rent.

Phase 1 of the Covid-19 Hardship Fund is now open and current students can apply for a £500 individual award to help their finances. There is a simple application process outlined on the Covid-19 Hardship funding webpage. When applying you’ll be asked a series of questions to make sure you are eligible and asked to include your bank details. If your application is successful, your award will be transferred directly to your bank account.

Applications will close on 16 March 2021, or earlier if the full £588,000 has been awarded.

Please remember that if you have suffered financial hardship this academic year due to coronavirus, there is lots of support available through our range of Emergency Hardship Funds.

Please contact our Financial Aid team or Kent Union’s Advice Service (Canterbury) or GKSU’s Advice Centre (Medway) for more information on what fund may be suitable for you.

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Covid-19 student update – 5 February 2021

From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

I hope you are well and enjoying your Term 2 studies despite the current challenges.

The latest Government briefing outlines that universities should continue to provide online teaching for most study programmes until at least 8 March 2021 and that you should not return to campus unless for a specific reason. If you have any questions about what this means for your teaching, do please speak with your module convener or academic school/department.

No detriment

Many of you have raised questions concerning your progression during this academic year. I understand this is a concerning time and want to reassure you that the University is focused on this very important area of work.

This year, we will be using a range of different academic mitigation methods to ensure no student is disadvantaged by the pandemic. We have already implemented many changes to our teaching and student support and have now published information on how we will be continuing to do this throughout the year in our No detriment measures for 2021.

Student support

I understand this is a difficult year however must stress how important it is that you remain committed to your studies. There is a wealth of help and support available to ensure you continue to develop academically and achieve the learning outcomes you need to progress and graduate.

Our new Head of Colleges, Jacqui Double, has written a brief introduction to the support available from your College and Community Life team no matter where you may be living at present.

We have a number of emergency funding options to help any student in financial need and instructions on how to apply are online. Please contact our Financial Aid teamKent Union or GKSU if you at all unsure whether or not you are eligible or which option might be best for you. They will be happy to help you.

Covid-19 testing for students in term-time accommodation

To those students who are living on-campus or accessing University facilities under the Government’s exemptions, I must urge you get tested for Covid-19. You should have two tests 3-5 days apart on your return to your term time address or self-isolate for ten days. After that you should be regularly tested twice a week. Please book your tests now and get tested at our on campus testing sites at both Canterbury and Medway. This is a vital part of the Government’s strategy to combat the virus.

Web chat

The next Student WebChat is on tuition fees and student finance and will take place on Wednesday 10 February 13.00-14.00. The booking form is now available online.

New weekly updates

From this Monday, 8 February, we’ll be sending you a new brief weekly update of the main student events of the week, top tips and quick links to key support services and information informed by the feedback we receive from you and the questions raised at our WebChats.

We will continue updating our website as often as we can. Please do continue to email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk with any urgent enquiries and we will respond as soon as possible.

Thank you for your continued dedication to your studies.

With best wishes,

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Coronavirus

Regular testing for Covid-19

Taking part in regular testing is an essential part of the Government’s strategy to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

If you are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19

If you are currently living on campus or accessing campus facilities having followed the latest Government guidance and are Covid-19 symptom-free, it is very important that you get tested regularly.

Canterbury campus

  • We can now provide 2 tests per week at our Asymptomatic Testing Site on the Canterbury campus up until at least 15 February 2021 for any students who need to be on site and are not experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

Medway campus

Alternatively, you can also choose to access any of the regional community testing facilities, whichever is nearest to where you are living. Lists of community testing facilities are available on the Kent County Council and Medway Council

For those of you living away from the University at the moment, please refer to your local or national government websites for information about Covid-19 testing in your area.

Please remember – even if you receive a negative test result following a Covid-19 test, you must still adhere to the national lockdown restrictions and continue to follow all advice concerning Hands, Face, Space.   

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19

If you do display any symptoms that could indicate Covid-19, self-isolate immediately, get a PCR test at a local testing site, and let the right people know.

Please read our procedure if experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or have been advised to self-isolate. There is a local testing site on the Canterbury campus in Rutherford College car park.

We know that this is a worrying time, and we are here to support and advise you wherever you may be. If you have any concerns or queries, please check our Student Coronavirus webpages or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

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Latest guidance on national lockdown – 12 January 2021

From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Latest guidance on national lockdown 

Following my latest email to you and last week’s Student WebChat, we have received further guidance on what the Government’s latest lockdown restrictions mean for universities and for you.

The main message of the lockdown is that you must stay at home apart from in a small number of exceptional circumstances. The UK Government has declared this lockdown in England in order to control the spread of new-variant Covid-19, and reducing travel and social contact are key to that.

There are exceptional circumstances for Higher Education contained in the guidance, and these are now included in our new set of Spring return and travel FAQs. You should only travel to your term-time address if you meet one of these criteria and it is absolutely necessary. Students who have already returned should remain at their term-time address and follow the guidance provided.

Rent reduction 

Included in the FAQs are details of the University’s Spring term rent reduction scheme for those on the Canterbury campus and further information for those in Pier Quays at Medway. In addition, we are committed to supporting Kent Union in their work representing those of you in private accommodation.

Academic mitigation and support

We remain committed to ensuring that no student is disadvantaged by the pandemic using our academic mitigation processes. We are currently updating our ‘no detriment’ processes and will continue to offer flexibility in applications for mitigation to ensure that we can support your needs as quickly as possible.

In addition, whilst we expect most students to meet their current coursework deadlines, students with deadlines between now and the end of the second week of term (29 January) who have been unable to submit will now be given an additional week’s extension automatically. For further academic support or advice, please contact your academic school.

Weekly Student WebChats and regular communications 

Thank you to those of you who have asked questions about the current situation and provided feedback over the last week including during last week’s WebChat. We are working to complete answers to all those questions in line with the latest Government guidance.

So that we can hear from you more regularly and keep you up to date, we are now arranging weekly Student WebChats. Please sign up for the next one on Wednesday 13 January 2021.

We have also introduced a new feature to our sign-up form where you can ask questions in advance to help us address as many points as we can on the day.

In addition to the WebChats, I will be contacting you more regularly over the next few weeks and we will continue updating our website as often as we can. Please do continue to email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk with any urgent enquiries and we will respond as soon as possible.

My very best wishes to you, your friends and your family.

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Coronavirus

University accommodation rent reduction

From Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education & Student Experience

As you will be aware, on Monday evening the Prime Minister announced another period of national lockdown due to increasing rates of Covid-19 infections across our country. Unlike the last lockdown period in November, universities have been instructed to suspend face-to-face teaching for most study programmes and students have been asked not to travel to their term-time addresses.

This leaves many of you unable to return to your University on-campus accommodation at this time.

I appreciate that this has been causing concern and has been worrying for many of you. Please be assured we are committed to doing all we can to support your studies and wellbeing during this difficult time.

Rent reduction scheme

We are introducing a rent reduction scheme for all students with contracts for accommodation on the Canterbury campus who are unable to return due to the current Government lockdown restrictions.

From next week, you will be able to complete a simple form to apply for the equivalent of a six-week reduction of your second term accommodation fee.

In order to allow time for the application process and for us to apply the reduction, we will also be delaying this term’s rent payment date until 1 March 2021.  A revised statement will be sent to you during the week beginning Monday 22 February 2021 to confirm the new amount.

Our Accommodation Team will be in touch next Monday (11 January) with more details of the scheme and a link to the application form. For urgent questions only, please email accomm@kent.ac.uk. Please note, we are unable to accept applications by email – you will need to use the form available from Monday.

The amount of the reduction will take into account whether or not you have ‘Bed and Flex’ or ‘Bed and Bistro’ packages as part of your fee. Those students who have purchased the Flex catering package in addition to their accommodation fee will be contacted by the Catering team separately.

Medway – For students in accommodation at Pier Quays in Medway, we are currently in discussion with Unite, the private provider of that accommodation, regarding rent rebates and we will provide an update on this as soon as we can.

Private accommodation – We will also be pledging our support to the work being done by Kent Union to represent the interests of our students in private rental accommodation in the region.

Financial support

Please be aware we have emergency short term loans and other hardship funds available if you do find yourself in financial difficulty.  Please contact financialaid@kent.ac.uk and a member of our Student Finance Team will help you.

Spring term restart

We recognise the importance of providing a blended approach to teaching and we aim to resume face-to-face sessions for all study programmes from 1 March 2021.

Please be aware that the provision of teaching will be solely online until 1 March 2021, except for the exempt study programmes which are medicine, social work and pharmacy. Students studying these programmes should speak with their School for further information on face-to-face teaching.

I would like to remind you that (with the exception of KMMS) Term 2 starts on 18 January 2021 and to please engage with all online teaching sessions as outlined on your timetable.

Students on campus

We appreciate that you may have already returned to campus, or may have been with us throughout the vacation period. Please be assured we will continue to support you.

For those of you already here, Government guidelines state you should remain at your term-time address and not move between here and your home address. If you haven’t done already, please book your two asymptomatic Covid-19 tests online.

Visiting campus to collect belongings

A number of you have asked for clarity as to whether you can come to campus to collect your belongings.

The Government is advising against returning to campus for this purpose, however “if you require medical supplies or equipment to support your online learning” you may return but only if this is absolutely necessary.

If you do return to collect items, please ensure you adhere to all social distancing regulations, wear a face-covering, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and remain on campus for as short a time as possible.

I understand this is an unsettling time for many of you and that there are still many more unanswered questions. Please be assured we are doing all we can to minimise the impact of this national lockdown on your studies and ensure you can access the support and advice you need. We are keeping this matter under constant review and will communicate any changes that will affect you as soon as we can.

If you have any concerns or queries, please check our student Coronavirus webpages or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

With my best wishes,

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Coronavirus

University response to Government lockdown announcement – 5 January 2021

From Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience.

Dear Student,

I am writing to you following yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister that we are now in a third national lockdown, and to update you on our current position.

Unlike the second lockdown in November, universities have been asked to pause face-to-face teaching during this time apart from to those on medicine, pharmacy or social work courses.

As a result, all our teaching will be delivered online until the end of February unless you are studying on one of the above courses. The start of term remains 18 January 2021.

You should follow Government guidance and not move between your home and term-time addresses. Unless you are already living on campus, please do not come onto campus until you hear from the University that it is possible to do so. We will continue to support you and your studies no matter where you are.

If you have University accommodation which you are currently not able to access due to these latest Government restrictions, please be aware that we are looking into the implications of this situation and will update you over the next few weeks.

If you are already living on campus, the Government has recommended that you stay in your University accommodation and has stressed that university campuses are regarded as COVID-safe. Library and catering facilities will remain available.

This announcement supersedes all previous arrangements. I apologise for any confusion this may cause but, as you will appreciate, we are in a rapidly changing environment.

I will continue to keep in touch over the next few weeks and we will update the website with new information as it becomes available.

If you have not already done so, please sign up for tomorrow’s (6 January 2021) Web Chat during which we will answer your questions about these latest changes as well as any others about the Spring term. The booking form is now open so please do sign up.

Our priority remains to keep you and our community safe while still providing the highest quality teaching and student experience.

We know that this is a worrying time, and we are here to support and advise you wherever you may be. If you have any concerns or queries, please check our student Coronavirus webpages or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

My very best wishes to you, your friends and your family.

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Coronavirus

Letter to all students from UK Minister of State for Universities

[05.01.2021 Please see latest update following the announcement of a third national lockdown which supersedes the 1 January update.]

From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Following my email yesterday, please read the following letter to all students from Michelle Donelan MP, Minster of State for Universities outlining the UK Government’s decision to further restrict the number of courses that can return to in-person teaching as planned at the beginning of the Spring term.

As I said before, I will continue to keep in touch over the next few weeks as we develop our plans in response to this latest change and update our online information as soon as we can.

Please do sign up for our Web Chat on 6 January 2021 during which we will answer your questions about these latest changes as well as any others about the Spring term.

If you have any concerns or queries, please check our student Coronavirus webpages  or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

My very best wishes to you, your friends and your family.

Yours sincerely

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience