Protect Exeter College’s Vulnerable Students

Protect Exeter College’s Vulnerable Students

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Jessie Dunster started this petition to Exeter College

Last Edit: 07/09

Exeter College has implemented its precautions for resuming learning. These include: optional masks in classrooms, a one way system, and “bubbles” of students - which as most take three A levels, can be up to 75 people in their bubble alone. The government guidelines remain that you cannot socialise with more than 6 people from outside your family whilst in the outdoors, and yet the college feels it acceptable to create bubbles of up to 75 in an indoor environment. Additionally, these students will not all take the same A levels, therefore expanding the bubble/range of contact even further. Within your bubbles, as per Exeter College’s guidelines on their website (07/09), 2m social distancing will not be enforced, and nor will masks. This leaves vulnerable people open and unguarded to anyone who may have contracted the virus in any of their other bubbles, or by meeting their friends outside of college. 

The college’s safety measure for its vulnerable or disabled students is as follows:

An optional black and yellow lanyard which signals others to stay away. This is insufficient, as not only may the lanyard not be seen from any angle other than the front, it in fact ostracises those vulnerable people and sends a beacon to other students that they are vulnerable or disabled, something which many of those students do not like to share. In a school setting where maturity varies, this makes them a target for bullying, and expects vulnerable students to open themselves to this possible harassment. Should they choose not to wear the lanyard for fear of bullying or realising it’s insufficiency, it becomes the fault of the vulnerable person should they contract the virus, rather than the fault of the college for not providing good enough measurements for its most vulnerable students.

There have already been accounts, as can be seen in the comment section of this petition, of students being forced to leave the college all together as they are not catered for. I, myself, was offered help finding another college as I do not feel safe with the lack of precautions for vulnerable people at Exeter College. Other students have had suggestions which include, “if possible you seek an alternative place to stay, so that you could start with the other year two learners” with respect to not attending as their family members need to shield - so that they will still attend the college with no other precaution than the lanyard. Students should not be prompted to leave their homes in order to attend college. This suggestion is both unfair and unattainable for many with vulnerable family members. Rather than put in place extra precautions to take care of their vulnerable students, Exeter College staff are suggesting that these students carry out their studies elsewhere. As of today (07/09), for a number of factors, I have decided to continue my education with a different college online. This is impossible for many students, who should not be forced out. 

The college website’s Corona Virus guidance says that students and staff must wear face masks at busy times where it is difficult to maintain social distancing (07/09). However, as previously mentioned, in classrooms within bubbles, neither masks or distancing will be enforced. This is unacceptable, as students will have met people from outside their bubbles and could easily be carrying the virus back into them. Face masks are already being worn in class bubbles voluntarily by some, but this is not enough as masks are only effective in preventing the spread of Covid19 from those who are infected, but will not protect the individuals wearing them from others, so should be made mandatory to reduce infection. The British Medical Association has called for face coverings to be made mandatory in all indoor settings and the college should be adhering to this advice in order to properly safeguard its students, rather than at subjective busy times, and not at all in the bubble groups. 

Not offering vulnerable students the option of online learning (like many other colleges have) whilst simultaneously not making masks mandatory in all areas of the college campus is putting its most vulnerable at risk, willingly, when it is at the discretion of the college to enforce mask wearing. 

We ask that Exeter College introduces the enforcement of mask wearing on all of its campuses, including in classroom bubbles, in order to protect its vulnerable students and students with vulnerable families. Or, alternatively, that Exeter College implements full online learning as an option for those who are vulnerable or have vulnerable immediate family members, as they have previously shown the ability to provide online learning when the college shut all together earlier this year.

Vulnerable students should not be expected to put themselves or their families at risk because the college cannot provide adequate precautions for them. Please sign this petition to make sure that those most vulnerable are protected by their college, as is its duty. 

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