Scotland: Colleges move to hybrid learning as Omicron spreads
Jeff J Mitchell
Published: 20/12/2021- 05:47
Many colleges will move to blended learning this week to protect staff and students amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Colleges Scotland said that several colleges are also planning to deliver hybrid teaching for the first two weeks of next year to protect people and minimise pressure on public transport and the NHS.
Both Edinburgh and City of Glasgow Colleges will switch to online learning from Monday until term ends on Wednesday, while other colleges including Dumfries and Galloway College and Dundee and Angus College will also minimise activity on campus and move as much as possible online.
Colleges will be keeping in touch with their students throughout December and January as plans are subject to change.
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: “Colleges have prepared very well for this model, and students can be assured that the quality of their college experience is being protected.
“Scottish Government and colleges across the country are working closely together as the situation changes.
“Colleges were already operating at a higher safety level than the rest of society through this autumn and winter, and we expect that to continue when learning and teaching resumes in January.
“Everyone over 18 in Scotland can now get first, second and booster doses of the vaccine and getting a jag over the Christmas holidays will help us all get back to classes more quickly and safely in the new year.
“Students have also been able to access lateral flow tests at their college for many months, and I’d urge anyone attending a campus to test regularly.”
Colleges Scotland said that arrangements will vary at different colleges to meet local needs, and urged students to check information from their institution regularly.
Audrey Cumberford, chairwoman of the College Principals’ Group and Principal of Edinburgh College, said: “We have pro-actively prepared in case the pandemic shifted again.
“Over the past 21 months colleges have become adept at delivering high quality learning and teaching remotely or in a hybrid model, with vulnerable students and practical subjects prioritised for access to our campus spaces.”
She added: “Students should be checking the information sent to them over the Christmas and new year period to understand what the return in January looks like for them, and they should feel confident that their courses will be delivered in a really supportive way while we all deal with the latest disruption.”
Paul Little, principal of City of Glasgow College and Vice Chair of the College Principals’ Group, added: “In order to keep the flow of qualified and skilled people coming into the workforce – including critical parts of the economy like health and social care, construction, and the maritime industry – the college sector has a crucial role to support our students gain their qualifications even while we deal with this latest wave of the virus.”