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West Norfolk students adapt to coronavirus changes as education takes very different form

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way West Norfolk students have learnt this year with an increase in remote learning.

One 18-year-old Lynn student, who formerly attended Springwood High School, told the Lynn News the majority of people planning to go to university in her year are taking a gap year because they do not want to do study remotely.

Another West Norfolk university student, who has been learning from home rather than travelling to Canterbury, said he feels students’ rights have been “neglected” throughout the year.

The College of West Anglia has taken a number of safety measures in line with guidance to protect students from Covid-19 infection
The College of West Anglia has taken a number of safety measures in line with guidance to protect students from Covid-19 infection

A Lynn college student training to be a midwife said she has felt isolated at times as she has only been attending her campus once a week.

But for schools and universities, remote learning has been required to protect students and help reduce the spread of infection in what has been unprecedented circumstances.

The College of West Anglia [CWA] has taken a “blended learning approach” to most curriculum areas during the pandemic, in which students are in college on one or two days per week.

One CWA student said the measures taken by the college has ensured he has maintained consistent levels of achievement throughout the pandemic period.

All CWA English and maths lessons are delivered online due to Covid-19, but foundation courses, for example, all take place on campus face-to-face for those with learning difficulties and complex needs.

For those who are attending the campus, the college has installed hand sanitisers across the campuses and run a communication campaign to reinforce the washing of hands, maintaining social distance and wearing face masks.

A College of West Anglia (CWA) spokeswoman said: “We took a very careful approach to planning for the current academic year, trying to respond to the Government’s directive to deliver a full education to young people whilst ensuring we minimise the risk to both staff and students from Covid-19.”

The practical measures also include re-organising all teaching spaces to ensure classroom seating was suitably social distanced in line with measures.

Within the classroom, teachers stay within a defined area two metres away from students and wear a face covering if needed to work at closer contact. Classroom support workers wear suitable PPE according to their role.

The CWA spokeswoman added: “The impact of these measures has been to reduce the need for students and staff to isolate as a result of someone else testing positive. So, in contrast to many schools, we have had to stand down relatively small numbers of students and staff for self-isolation purposes.”

Many support services operate virtually such as telephone and video counselling sessions. Welfare staff offer a mixture of face-to-face and virtual meetings.

Jacob Morton, who is a student governor at the CWA, said he has achieved the same results he was predicted before the pandemic.

He said: “When the pandemic hit, it was obviously a huge and sudden change to the way in which we learn, going from a classroom to a computer screen.

“Of course distance learning will never have the same impact as face-to-face, and so since the new school year started in September, the college has been increasing our time on-campus, which I know we were all very pleased and grateful about.”

He added: “I feel that the way the college has approached the situation has been important for ensuring that I’m not at a disadvantage to previous, or future, year groups.”

"I know that the college has also provided much-needed resources to those for whom these aren’t readily available due to personal circumstances, so that no student is disadvantaged."

The Lynn News conducted a poll in which nearly 74 per cent of respondees said they have found their education to be tough going during the pandemic. Just over 26 per cent said not much has changed due to the level of resources on offer.

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