Supporting vulnerable students
Students considered to be most at risk from Covid-19 should work at home wherever possible in line with government advice. Students who are going on placement will be required to complete an individual risk assessment and others may choose to do so. In addition, students from vulnerable groups, including care leavers, students estranged from their families and students with disabilities, are prioritised for help from the University’s Hardship Funds and for accommodation in Horton Halls. Priority for loans of laptops from the University will be given to those eligible to receive a hardship grant; those registered as disabled, care leavers or with caring responsibilities; and international students who may have difficulty sourcing an appropriate device on arrival in the UK.
We recognise the impact that the current circumstances may have on mental health and have expanded our counselling provision, offering remote appointments to any student. In addition, every student will be allocated a personal tutor to offer individual pastoral and academic support from the start of their studies. (Further information about health and wellbeing advice during Covid-19 is available here.)
Priority consideration has been given to support for students with disabilities when accessing teaching and learning online, through the provision of automatic live captioning and British Sign Language within our primary technologies of Panopto, MS Teams and Big Blue Button. These can benefit a range of students, especially those who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as students with an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), memory processing issues, and for whom English is an additional language.
Human-level captioning is also available where a need has been established through the Disability Advisory team. Human-level captioning requests are processed by the Learning Technology Services (LTS) section and can be requested by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How the course will be delivered
The existing learning outcomes for our modules and courses will remain in place. From September to December 2020 all students will primarily access their learning, including learning materials, via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Canvas. Hands-on practical teaching and learning activities will be delivered on campus with appropriate social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) measures put in place, and with controls on the number of people in each location.
The online components of the course will be designed to balance interactive real-time sessions with lecturers and other students, with self-paced independent study. Students will have clear learning pathways through the activities they are expected to engage with, and there will be opportunities to check learning and progress.
Personal tutor support and all other student support, such as the Academic Success Centre, will also be online for this period, using a range of methods for staying in touch, such as telephone, email and the University’s web conferencing systems BigBlueButton and MSTeams.
Pending Health Education England (HEE) approval, placements are currently expected to resume from September 2020 with minimum changes to planned delivery or timings. All students on placement will be expected to undertake a risk assessment and adhere to local Trust working patterns and guidance.
To get the most from online study, hardware requirements have been established and communicated to all existing students and offer holders. Students will need their own personal computer or laptop and an internet connection in their place of accommodation. This needs to be in place at the start of the course. Once enrolled, students will have the ability to use Office 365 as part of our institutional licence, and access software required for their modules/courses via AppsAnywhere. In addition, we offer Office for Mac via Ofice365, but only the following applications are available for Mac: Teams, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneNote. Web-based Office applications are available on Mac. Full details are available here. There is a provision for students who may struggle to meet the hardware requirements to contact our IT Hardship team.
The MSc Sports Cardiology is well equipped to cope with the distance learning element required during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since its inception, our course has been at the forefront of trialling and successfully using the learning technologies available at St George’s. Our module pages offer detailed material to guide you through your learning in and outside the class. All our lectures are recorded in order to offer flexibility to our students. In contrast to other clinical MSc degrees where clinical examination plays an important role, our speciality relies predominantly on history and interpretation of investigations, with a very limited role for clinical examination.
All our theory-based modules (Cardiovascular Anatomy and Physiology, Principles of Cardiovascular Evaluation of Athletes, Principles of Cardiovascular Screening, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Advanced Management of Inherited Cardiac Conditions and Cardiovascular Genetics) are well equipped to be delivered remotely with small adjustments. We are reviewing all of our existing recordings and may split some of them into shorter lectures interspersed with single best answer questions or other material. We intend to deliver a considerable proportion of the module material via live webinars on the video conferencing software BigBlueButton. We will definitely deliver any material with new developments since last year’s module this way. BigBlueButton allows for interaction between students and students and tutors, re-creating the class experience.
If required, we will also deliver online the Research Methods module (which already consisted of recorded lectures) and the modules on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Applied in Genomics and Counselling Skills in Genomics that we use as optional modules from the Genomic Medicine MSc.
For our two practice modules, we are planning considerable adjustments. These will ensure that you are able to gain the necessary experience to fulfil the module requirements and complete the assignments. All students who want to experience face-to-face interaction with patients/clients will have the opportunity to attend our specialist clinics and screenings at their convenience throughout 2021, long after the end of the module. Given the limited number of individuals, we can accommodate per session, this will need to be arranged with the respective module lead.
The module Practice of Cardiovascular Evaluation of Athletes, which runs in November, will be delivered as distance learning this year. As such, students will not have the opportunity to join staff in their NHS clinics to review cases. However, similar to previous years, we will deliver interactive case-based tutorials through BigBlueButton, where you will have the opportunity to review and discuss in excess of 100 cases, as per the module requirements. In fact, we aim to surpass the number of cases from last year, given that we will avoid the inherent delays of waiting for patients in an NHS clinic.
The module Practice of Cardiovascular Screening runs in March. The main component of the module is students attending screening sessions organised by the charitable organisation Cardiac Risk in the Young. Such screenings are currently suspended, but we hope they will resume soon. If they do not, we will still be able to offer students the opportunity to review more than 500 cases with a combination of online review of ECGs and case-based tutorials. We will use this opportunity to further improve our module and the experience students get, irrespective of whether it is delivered face-to-face or remotely. The module assignment will be changed to a reflective essay to reflect the lack of participation in a screening session.
Incoming students (starting September 2020)
Students with pre-existing illnesses or disabilities, or who are shielding
If you suffer, or have suffered, from a serious illness (physical or psychological) or have a disability, or have been required to shield due to Covid-19, please let us know. St George’s is committed to supporting our students and will explore all reasonable adjustments to support you to thrive on your course.
Please contact our Disability Advisor as soon as possible with details to help us establish whether your health history or disability is likely to affect your ability to study or practise. This will also give us sufficient time to carry out a detailed assessment, obtain reports and organise additional expert assessments if required.
Attendance at site
Most of our courses include elements of teaching for which you will be required to attend the University site. Attendance at these sessions will be essential to enable you to engage with the course and undertake assessments.
You will be required to undertake a personal risk assessment before you can attend any placement that is part of your course (or undertake certain other activities, such as those which include the practice of clinical skills or require the use of PPE). Where a health concern arises, every effort will be made to identify alternative placement arrangements, but your health and safety will be the first priority, and alternative arrangements may not be possible. This may have implications for the continuation of your study. If you are clinically vulnerable or have been shielding, we strongly encourage you to contact the Disability Advisor now to undertake an assessment.
Students with pre-existing illnesses or disabilities, or who are shielding
If you're a student with a pre-existing illness or disability, or who is shielding, your course team will contact you to ask if you would like to complete a personal risk assessment before you return to the site. If you suffer from a serious illness which may increase your level of risk, or have been required to shield due to Covid-19, we recommend that you complete a personal risk assessment. St George’s is committed to supporting our students and will explore all reasonable adjustments to support you to thrive on your course.
Attendance at site
For the majority of our courses, we will be delivering an element of face to face, hands-on teaching on campus in line with social distancing guidelines which you are required to attend. If you will be unable to attend teaching on-site due to a health reason, you must let us know by the start of the academic year so we can consider alternative arrangements to ensure you progress through the course. Mitigating Circumstances can still be submitted for unforeseen illnesses; however, being unable to attend the site due to shielding or being at heightened risk from a pre-existing illness or disability will not be accepted as grounds for Mitigating Circumstances. Please discuss this with your course team and complete a personal risk assessment so that all reasonable adjustment can be made.
You will be required to undertake a personal risk assessment before you can attend any placement (or undertake certain other activities, such as those including the practice of clinical skills or requiring the use of PPE) that is part of your course. Where a health concern arises, every effort will be made to identify alternative placements arrangements, but your health and safety will be the first priority, and where alternative arrangements are not possible, there may be implications for your studies. If you are clinically vulnerable or have been shielding, we strongly encourage you to contact your course team now to undertake a personal risk assessment.