There’s a buzz around Lakes College as some students returned to the site for the first time in 12 weeks.
All students have been working remotely since the lockdown kicked off in March.
Following the latest government announcement that certain groups would benefit from some face to face contact with their tutors, the first students were welcomed back yesterday, Monday June 15.
There are usually around 850 learners in the college and out of those, about 50 have been invited back as they cannot carry out practical assessments at home.
The rest of the students will continue with their online work.
Principal Chris Nattress said: “It’s an exciting week for us here at the college. A great amount of preparation has been going on for many weeks. We have opened to a small group of students who will benefit from being on site and having some face to face contact with their tutors.
“We’ve closely followed government guidance and have made sure our risk assessments are appropriate.
“Lakes College is all about the students, so it’s fantastic to see some of them back here learning.”
Staff at the college have been working hard to transform the facilities.
This includes introducing one-way systems, hand sanitising stations and limiting the amount of people in areas as well as cordoning off work stations.
Wellbeing stations have also been placed around the college, where students can pick up bottles of water as well as advice and guidance leaflets on important issues.
Eight students, who are on the Level 3 Welding course, arrived at the college’s Construction Skills Centre yesterday morning.
They were greeted by their lecturer, Clive Bell, who has worked at the college for 16 years, with this being the longest time he’s ever been away from his workshop.
“It’s great to be back,” said Mr Bell. “They’ve been away for 12 weeks which is very hard, so it is nice to be back in the workshop again.”
One of the learners, Mark Ritson, said: “I’m really pleased to be back in college, it’s going well so far. It’s good to be back doing the practical side of the course and to see my lecturer Clive and others.”
Scott Dunstan, also studying Level 3 Welding, added: “Coming back into the college gives us a chance to finish our projects – I’ve missed the buzz of the workshop.”
Over in the engineering department, lecturer John Crook was back teaching – something which he’s missed since lockdown was brought in.
“It’s great to have some students back working on their projects,” said Mr Crook. “We have put a lot of safety measures in place to keep both staff and students safe.
There’s a one-way system, social distancing, taped-off work areas and we wear face shields in the workshop.”
A safety video has been produced for all staff and students to watch before entering the site to explain the new procedures.