Face masks now compulsory for students and staff at Weston College

Weston College has made face masks compulsory for staff and students.

Weston College has made face masks compulsory for staff and students. - Credit: Submitted

Weston College has made wearing face masks compulsory for all staff and students in common spaces as the coronavirus infection rate in people under 30 rises.

The change is one in a series made by the college in its Covid-19 defence across five campuses.

Speaking in a video on the college’s website, Principal Dr Paul Phillips cited another rise in the national R rate for the precautions.

The R rate, or reproduction number, represents the number of people each infected person will pass the coronavirus on to, on average.

Dr Phillips said: “I will be requiring all staff, all learners and all apprentices when on the college site, apart from a classroom or office, to wear face masks at all times.

“I have done this at a time when the R factor is rising nationally.”

On September 11, the Government estimated the UK R rate to be between 1.0 to 1.2.

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Other changes have been made to the college, which has 30,000 enrollments annually. as part of its ‘Back to College’ model.

Aside from making face masks compulsory, smaller class sizes, hand sanitizer stations and a one-way exit and entrances have been introduced alongside a system designed for emotional support.This system has led to the college being named a ‘Trailblazer’ by mental health charity, Young Minds.

A Young Minds survey found that 80 per cent of respondents felt that the coronavirus pandemic had a negative effect on their mental health.

In the same survey, 31 per cent stated they needed support but were not able to access it.

Throughout lockdown, virtual ‘body and mind’ sessions were made available to students as part of a task force set up and chaired by Paul Phillips.

The mental health support offered has continued into the return of the academic year.

More than 100 staff at Weston College have been trained in mental health first aid.

Dr Phillips said: “Covid-19 may not have hit everyone physically, but its impact has affected many people’s mental health in one way or another.

“Our approach at Weston is to concentrate on all the positives of being back in college life and all that brings by being part of a solid routine.”