Saturday 19 September 2020

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Cork Independent


St John’s is ready for new term

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020 3:17pm

Staff at St John’s Central College Cork have been busy all summer ensuring a safe environment for students when they return for the new term.

With students expected back by the end of the month, focus has now shifted from physical preparations, such as signage and perspex screens, to establishing effective means to deliver courses within current Covid-19 guidelines.

College Principal Paula McCarthy told the Cork Independent that, after a lot of hard work, the college is now a safe place for both staff and students.

Ms McCarthy said: “When we send our daughters and sons off to school, we want them to be in a safe environment, and we have every confidence that St John's is a safe environment.

“There was a lot of preparatory work to do over the summer. We consulted with various health and safety firms. They advised us of things like anti-microbial films and the benefits of a one-way system in the college.”

Ms McCarthy said that the college is now working on “rebuilding” its various courses, many of which are practical and require specialised equipment.

“We are rebuilding the courses with a blended learning lens, to see how we can support students in off-site and on-site delivery in a blended, hybrid model,” she said.

She added: “A lot of our courses here are practical. We have invested a lot in the facilities over the years. Our labs, workshops, veterinary studios are all top-notch facilities and we want students to be able to come in and use them.”

Due to social distancing, the amount of applications accepted for this year’s term will be greatly reduced.

However, with reduced class sizes, students will have the opportunity to have more one-on-one time with teachers, as well as more access to facilities.

To prepare both returning and new students, the college has decided to develop a number of video promos in order to smoothly transition students into their new term.

Ms McCarthy said: “To prepare the students before they even come in the door, we are putting together a promo video so that they will know what to expect and what is expected of them.”

Students will also be able to access their student email and Moodle accounts from the very beginning of term, which was previously not the case.

“Students will be able to immediately access their emails and Moodle accounts when their term begins. This will be achieved with further promo videos showing students how to set up their own accounts.

“When they do come in, we will give them an induction session which is going to be different this year. The focus will be to guide student through the digital tools,” said Ms McCarthy.

Staff have also been given huge support and have each received a laptop, as well as being brought up to speed with virtual learning tools such as Zoom and Screencast-O-Matic.

“Our focus is to really know our college community, and to know our students and what their needs are, thus enabling them to upskill and meet the needs of Cork city,” concluded Ms McCarthy.

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