If you’re over 16 and due to start or continue further education this academic year, it’s important you can get back to college or training safely. Being back supports your progress towards higher education or employment, but it’s also a more fun way to learn and develop, as you get to be face-to-face with tutors and friends again. Having a routine is important for everyone and being back in college or training gives us a routine that’s good for our wellbeing.
The shielding advice from the Government ended on 1st August which means everyone can go back to college and training, including if they or a member of their household was shielding previously. If you need more advice or guidance on this, then please contact your GP or other relevant health professional.
Staying safe INSIDE college
We’ve learnt more about keeping places of education safer. Colleges have introduced measures to keep their students, staff and their families as safe as possible. These measures are based on Government guidelines and are appropriate to each individual college, its community and environment. Public health risks, and measures that need to be taken to reduce these, will be kept under constant review.
Stay safe OUTSIDE college
If you can, you should walk or cycle to college. As well as keeping public transport less crowded, it’s great for the environment and your health. If you do need to take the bus or train, check for changes to the services and allow plenty of time to get there. Remember that it’s now a legal requirement to wear a face covering on public transport, unless you are exempt, and follow social distancing rules.
You are still expected to keep 2 metres between yourself and anybody who isn’t in your household or support bubble. From the 14th of September, any gathering of more than six people either inside or outside is illegal – unless it meets specific criteria set out by the Government. The controlled college environment in college means different rules apply there, but you must remember to follow the rule outside of college.
We understand this may all be frustrating, but it is so important to maintain this social distancing, as it is designed to keep the infection rate low. If this isn’t followed, then it’s likely stricter measures will have to be put in place as the infection rate rises. To keep everybody safe, follow the latest guidance.
Stay at home if you have symptoms
If you or anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, including a new, continuous cough, high fever or change in sense of taste and smell, that person needs to stay at home, self-isolate for 10 days and follow the guidance at gov.uk/coronavirus. Everyone else in the household must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the same guidance.
You will also need to self-isolate if you have tested positive for coronavirus, or if have been advised to do so by the NHS Test-and-Trace service. If you need to self-isolate, inform your college as soon as you can. This is important for the NHS Test-and-Trace service to be effective, and to help you with continuing your learning at home.
Looking after your wellbeing
It’s completely normal to feel anxious about starting or going back to college, especially this year. If this is affecting you, please talk to friends or trusted adults about it. You can also talk to other young people and wellbeing professionals confidentially about this and anything else troubling you at www.kooth.com. Other resources you may find useful are:
the Mind website (www.mind.org.uk): Provides information about mental health, coping techniques, and support
SHOUT (www.giveusashout.org): A 24/7, confidential and free text line where you can share your worries and access support. The number to text is 85258.
The CYP Haven (www.cyphaven.net): A drop-in service for if you are in a mental health crisis. They also hold a variety of workshops.
Heads Together (http://www.ymcaeastsurrey.org.uk/our-services/youth/heads-together-counselling/): Provides free and confidential counselling in areas of Surrey for anyone aged 14-24.
The Mix (www.themix.org.uk / 08088084994): A support service for under 25s providing counselling, a helpline, and an online community.