Post-secondary schools prepare for upcoming fall semester amid COVID-19 pandemic

Post-secondary schools prepare for upcoming fall semester amid COVID-19 pandemic
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WatchWith September just around the corner, post-secondary schools are getting ready to welcome back students. Most learning will be done remotely, but as Jasmine Bala reports, some of it will have to take place on campus.

Post-secondary education will look different this Fall 2020 semester, with schools adopting hybrid learning models.

At Camosun College, students will be offered both remote learning and in-person classes.

“Some will have a portion of their class on campus, but others will have all of their classes remote depending on the courses they are taking,” said Sherri Bell, president of Camosun College.

Some courses in the trades require hands-on learning, she explained, like the health program. This means some students could be on campus once every few days, but their classrooms will look different.

“Some of the spaces have plexiglass put up,” Bell said. “[In] others, the spacing of the desks are further apart. Each room and each course…  would have different needs.”

But all of the classrooms that would be used have been reviewed by health and safety, she added.

“So there’s very strict restrictions on how you come into a building, how you leave it, how many students can be in a classroom and the kind of protection that they need in the environment they’re working,” Bell said.

Most students understand why these steps are being taken and appreciate them, according to the Camosun College Student Society.

“Students, for the most part, appreciate this is a unique situation that requires some adaptation on their part,” said Michel Turcotte, the society’s executive director, adding, “[But] there are certainly students who think they’re not getting the same value for their money.”

Camosun College has about 1,300 international students registered for the fall semester and less than 50 are flying in from abroad.

“The only students that are coming here are ones that had already been approved and had their visa prior to the pandemic,” said Bell, adding most of them have already been here since the start of the pandemic.

The college is helping those that are coming from abroad come up with quarantine plans, Bell said.

“We have a plan with each individual student and they’re set up in a hotel,” she explained. “They have a food plan, they get a welcome package, they have check-ins with our international advisors quite frequently, and they get counseling support [to make] sure they are safe and healthy during that two week period.”

With many classes online, Bell added, some international students are learning remotely from their respective countries.

Remote learning is the bulk of what the University of Victoria is offering for the fall semester.

Ninety per cent of undergraduate courses and 60 per cent of graduate classes will be taught entirely online.

“I definitely think it’s the right move, I don’t think we’re ready to be back on campus,” said Sarina de Havelyn, the director of outreach and university relations at UVic’s Students’ Society.

“I think that UVic has made a lot of really good strides towards ensuring students are able to access education at a reasonable level online…. there’s just a lot of catch up work to do to make sure that students with different accessibility needs are being accounted for.”

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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