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Corona Virus Update

Dear All,

As the whole of society, Church and economy, ERMC is affected by the corona virus. Please find below an update about the way in which we are continuing to operate in this challenging environment.

First of all, since the beginning of this week we have cancelled all face-to-face teaching. Fortunately we are experienced in online teaching, so we were able to move classes to our BigBlueButton classrooms straight away. This went without smoothly, although some minor inconvenience for students who are not used to online classes can’t be avoided. At least we continue to provide teaching. We have already had all our residentials for this term, so they were not affected.

We are expecting that face-to-face teaching will not be possible next term either. If it were, we’d rejoice and restart our centres straight away. More realistically, we are making arrangements for all teaching to be online next term, and we are even exploring what virtual residential weekends may look like. This would not be quite the same experience as being together in Belsey Bridge, but at least we will be able to teach the curriculum and possibly even join together in virtual worship. At any rate, students should be able to complete their modules.

In most cases I assume that work in training parishes and placements have been disrupted if not cancelled. It may be interesting for students to see, though, what online ministry in time of pandemic can look like. I guess that I some cases our students, being used to doing think online, may have useful ideas for their parishes and chaplaincies. Ministry Division has let it be known that we can flexible about placement requirements, so even if students miss a big chunk of their field education, they can complete the year.

We are experimenting with way of enabling ongoing contact with students and peer support. Much of that will be taking place through the informal communication channels. We have set up an online common room and an online chapel. It will be interesting to see how those are being used.

I am confident that ERMC is quite well placed to operate, even with some limitations, in this new environment. The main uncertainty are the student admissions for next year. It looked as if we could look forward to a good intake, but now it is not certain if BAPs will take place at all (and if so in what form) for the rest of spring and summer. I am hoping for a creative national solution.

Most colleagues are working from home already and some are self-isolating. As long as possible and sensible we are going to maintain a skeleton staff in the office, consisting of Anne Simms, our new administrator, and myself. There are enough rooms here to spread ourselves out. Again, we can have meetings online, so we should be able to function as a team, even if slightly more dispersed. And we had our first virtual coffee break yesterday.

All that remains to say is, please keep the ERMC community in your prayers. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch

With all good wishes

Alex Jensen

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