College students say: ‘It’s fantastic to be back’

South Devon Colllege students are back after the Lockdown

South Devon Colllege students are back after the Lockdown - Credit: Archant

The students at South Devon College have returned after Lockdown and they have been telling us how fantastic it is to be back

THE long-awaited return to safe learning is proving a massive success at South Devon College, where a whole range of measures have been introduced to ensure students can once again feel comfortable in an education environment.

Technology has played a huge role through the pandemic but there is nothing like personal interaction for students and teachers, as well as being able to safely enjoy College life.

“When the crisis first emerged in March, we had to very quickly close down the College and move everything online,” said Kelly Sooben, Vice Principal of People and Resources at SDC.

“From June, we were able to slowly bring some students back for assessment purposes. A lot of safety measures were put in place, with social distancing, sanitising and guidance across the whole campus.

“The College is now thriving again with students and we have worked extremely hard to provide a safe environment for people to learn and enjoy College life. It has been a major operation but we have fully taken on board the Department of Education guidance, and we feel confident that the right measures are in place.

“We have been overwhelmed by the brilliant compliance displayed by the students. They understand the new situation we are all living through and we immediately introduced face-mask exemption lanyards for those unable to wear a mask. We also have staff circulating the College at all times, providing advice and reminding people of what they need to do.

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“In the classroom areas, we have a social distance between students, the staff and other adults all wear visors and everything is wiped down after each lesson. It is slightly different for workshops, where students might be working closer on a practical project, so we provide them with visors.

“We are also acutely aware that some students may come from vulnerable backgrounds and we have a brilliant positive intervention team at the College, ensuring everybody has the support they need.

“The best thing is to see the students so happy to be back at College, restarting their education and being with their friends and teachers.”

Walking around the College, it is truly inspiring to see young people following all the guidelines but also enjoying the company of their friends

The Torbay Weekly spoke to five A Level Students and it is very clear they are thrilled to be back where they belong.

“It has been a lot better to be back in the classroom, particularly as we have a lot of coursework in this year of the course,” said Katie Lofthouse. “It was a bit daunting but the College have made things very clear on the measures we need to follow.”

“In Year Two, our course is around 60 per cent coursework and coming back into College will make that a lot more manageable,” said Elise Elliott. “How to move safely around the College is very clear, hand sanitisers and masks to keep us safe. We have spent so long inside and it is much nicer to be around your mates again.”

“There is still some digital learning but it is great to spend more time with our teachers,” said Shiphrah Somerville. “The College have provided mental health support as well and a topic that a lot of people are talking about. They stay in regular contact with us and also encouraging safe contact between students.”

“It has been a rollercoaster coming back to College but there are so many safety procedures in place that I soon felt comfortable,” said Brandon Murphy. “I haven’t seen my friends and teachers for six months, so it has been very exciting to be back and finding a normal routine again.”

“My parents are extremely vulnerable, so I only left home three times in five months,” said Amy Barber. “Returning to College makes life feel normal again and so nice to have a social life again. I turned 18 during lockdown and being back is fantastic.”