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1. How can we support students affected by Covid-19?

In addition to the welfare support we know that TEIs will be providing to students, TEIs are reminded of the following processes and procedures that can be used to support students. Students adversely affected during the academic year should still be dealt with during the year wherever possible – for instance, via extensions to deadlines, or, if necessary, by altering assessments or permitting students to submit/resubmit work at a later point. Additional guidance on action which might be taken is available from the guidance on Student Absence and Illness. Where the impact on particular students can’t be mitigated during the year in this way, TEIs are also encouraged to make effective use of the Serious Adverse Circumstances procedure. 

2. What if a student falls ill with Covid-19?

In situations where students have missed teaching, we would expect the student to 'catch up' where reasonably feasible (for instance by reading the proposed text for the seminar discussions; reviewing the teaching materials for a lecture etc), and we would hope that TEIs would facilitate the student in their attempts to do so where they are able. 

Where students miss teaching sessions due to illness, the University advises that students complete and submit a 'Self-Certification of Absence Form' stating the circumstances and the duration of the absence. This essentially 'covers' the student for the missed contact hours. We are not suggesting that TEIs need to use such a form, but we do ask that you keep a record of when and why the student was absent. We work on the assumption that students are trusted to self-certify accurately and honestly, and there is no need to provide further evidence (such as a medical certificate). Certainly in the current circumstances, although we hope students do not find themselves ill as a result of Covid-19, we would expect TEIs to be understanding about illness related absences. 

If the absence affects the completion or submission of assessed work then you can make use of the usual options available such as extensions to deadlines (including extensions that reach into next academic year), or, if necessary, by altering the assessment. It is important to ensure that there is adequate support for students if they are preparing alternative forms of assessment, or working towards new deadlines). 

If, after all of those options have been exhausted, the student still seeks further mitigation, the Serious Adverse Circumstances procedure can still be used. We will also be releasing further guidance soon in relation to those students who are unable to complete all the credits required for their awards. 

3. What if a staff member falls ill with Covid-19 and is unable to teach or mark assessments?

Where a staff member falls ill, we hope that TEIs will in most circumstances be able to find other members of staff who can cover their teaching and marking. 

Whilst we expect that most such staff will already be involved in teaching on Common Awards programmes, we recognise that in some circumstances TEIs may need to turn to staff who have never taught or assessed at the TEI before. We expect TEIs still to check whether any such staff are suitably qualified, and have appropriate teaching experience. We also expect TEIs to monitor formal and informal student feedback closely to ensure that these alternative staffing measures are working well. We also expect TEIs to keep students fully informed about such changes, especially if the lead to any changes to the content or approach being taken in the relevant modules. 

Where staff without Common Awards experience are involved in marking student work, the TEI should ensure wherever possible that the work is moderated by a member of staff with experience of assessment on Common Awards programmes. 

We recognise that circumstances may arise in which it is impossible to arrange appropriate alternative staffing. Particularly if several members of staff fall ill at once, it may become necessary to cancel teaching, or otherwise to change arrangements, at short notice. In such circumstances, please ensure that students are informed as early as possible about the changes, that the reason for them is clearly explained, and that they are if at all possible consulted about any alternative arrangements that need to be put in place 

4. What if Covid-19 results in a change to a student’s record? Such as a change of end date or programme, or a suspension?

We understand that changes to students’ records might be necessary as a result of Covid-19. In such instances, please ensure that you clearly communicate Covid-19 as the reason. This is especially important for when we consider students at Boards of Examiners. Please ensure that any necessary concession requests have been approved before seeking the change in a student’s record. 

5. What additional resources are available to staff and students?

Learning Resources 

We are aware that some very useful additional resources have been made open-access by institutions and organisations around the world. We are working closely with the National Ministry Team to compile a composite list of those which might be most useful to TEIs and staff. This will be made available on the Common Awards Hub. Colleagues are invited to contribute. 

The Common Awards team has additionally reinvested in the eBooks Religion Collection, which is available via EBSCO. 

Online Teaching Resources (Staff) 

This resource has been developed to support staff wanting to explore options for delivering some or all of their modules online. The guidance is predominately directed at supporting colleagues based at Durham and so may make specific references that are not applicable to TEIs (such as DUO, the University’s online learning environment, instead of Moodle, for instance); however, we hope that the principles can be easily translated to support TEIs. Please give careful attention to any processes that might need be adapted to fit the Common Awards Framework, and as outlined in the FAQs above. To access, please click here. 

The National Ministry Team recently hosted an online event dedicated to supporting TEI staff in delivering teaching via Moodle. 

Online Learning Resources (Students) 

This resource is designed to help students at Durham University find effective ways to learn using digital resources and tools. It is designed to be used together with subject-specific advice from academic departments and lecturers. TEIs are invited to use the resource, if this would be helpful. To access, please click here. 

Wellbeing Resources 

The current crisis may cause anxiety for many colleagues and students. We know that TEIs will be doing everything possible to support students and staff during this difficult time. The University’s Organisation Development team and others (such as Public Health England) have published a range of resources on support and wellbeing activities. We hope you find these helpful. Please take a look at the University’s Wellbeing and Development for colleagues workingdifferently webpages, and take care of yourselves during these challenging times 

6. What additional support is available to TEIs from the Common Awards Team and National Ministry Team? 

We (the Common Awards Team and National Ministry Team working together) offered a number of things to help those who will be teaching online to a greater or lesser in 2019/20 including: 

  • A course on the Hub to ensure anyone designing and delivering an online course has the basic competencies they need; 
  • Another section of the Hub to act as a repository of, or gateway to, a range of resources on teaching online, selected to be of high quality and helpful to TEI staff; 
  • Meetings for those planning to teach online in the areas of Biblical studies; Ministry and mission; Doctrine and church history; and Worship and spirituality. 

Updates will be provided on this page as additional events are scheduled.