Merton College, part of the South Thames Colleges Group, has taken its first steps to re-opening as it welcomed groups of learners back into its grounds on Monday 15 June.
One of the main groups to return were Supported Learning students and learners from Merton’s Aurora Centre, the college’s specialist, non-residential FE centre for young adults with moderate to severe learning disabilities. The classes worked under strict social distancing measures, with a re-organised learning space created to ensure that both students and staff are able to work together safely and successfully. These measures have been supported by the Cleaning and Facilities teams, with an emphasis on social distancing and hand washing.
The 24 learners attended alongside 17 staff members, including tutors, therapists and classroom support workers. The college will also be open for selected invited students in groups of up to five. The focus of this re-opening is the mental wellbeing of the learners as they emerge from the lockdown period and return to college.
Jazel Dela Cruz, one of Merton’s students said: “It is so great to be back! It’s like coming out of the fog into a new world.”
Steve Dixon, Head of School of Foundation Learning, added: “Although we have been open throughout the lockdown, providing a continuous teaching and learning provision to vulnerable young people and those of key workers, it was really fantastic to see every space taken up this week with keen and enthusiastic students who are eager to engage once again with face to face learning. I cannot thank my amazing colleagues enough for volunteering to support our learners in their transition back to College.”
Peter Mayhew, Group Principal for South Thames Colleges said: “We’re so delighted to expand our provision for vulnerable students and can see just how much of a difference it makes to be able to welcome these young people back into college. We’ve worked hard with all our staff teams to make this a safe and positive experience, rich with learning opportunities and fun after all these weeks of lockdown.”