Online classes will be part of the new normal for post-secondary students and institutions in British Columbia and across Canada.
The lingering uncertainty over the novel coronavirus pandemic is prompting some Canadian higher educational institutions to announce strategies to navigate evolving health and safety measures.
The summer semester is now on course for domestic universities, and it appears the way the classes are being administered now — online — will continue as is in the fall.
Statements from SFU, UBC, Langara, and Kwantlen have all signaled that there could be a possibility for some physical classes come the fall, but that depends on guidelines or instructions from health authorities.
Santa J. Ono, University of British Columbia (UBC) president and vice-chancellor, confirmed in an email sent out Tuesday the approach that the institution is going to take for students in fall 2020.
UBC will essentially offer larger classes online, with selected smaller classes conducted physically, while adhering to social distancing and other public health requirement, he said,
“We will maintain a clear focus on ensuring high-quality in-person instruction, where possible, and high-quality remote e-learning.”
Further face-to-face learning will be introduced under the direction of the provincial health officer, Dr. Henry Bonnie, while various faculties will be sharing updates about specific programs in the weeks ahead.
Ono also said arrangements are being made for students by the university in the form of financial supports. Particular focus are on those who are experiencing financial difficulties, or who need extra advising or counselling.
“The requirements to maintain social or physical distancing also includes planning for any potential impact that travel restrictions may have on our foreign students, such as obtaining study permits or having difficulty coming to Canada,” Ono added.
Plans for residences and co-curricular activities have are yet to be finalized.
Jon Driver, SFU provost announced Monday that most courses will continue to be taken by remote delivery in the fall.
“At the same time, we will be working jointly and collaborating with health authorities and the province to ease some Coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions on our campuses,” he said.
“So much has changed in recent months. But what has not changed is our determination to work together, to forge new ways to connect, and to deliver a high-quality education while protecting the health and safety of all people of the SFU community.”
Meanwhile, Kwantlen University’s David Conop Price said the post-secondary institution is adjusting to the new normal.
In recent weeks, the University of Ottawa, McGill University, and others laid out plans for how they will manage the fall semester amidst evolving health and safety measures.
In Montreal, students at McGill University will see classes delivered primarily through remote platforms, while the Universite de Montreal says only a few programs or parts of programs will take place on campus.
The University of Ottawa, meanwhile, announced that all its classes, with some exceptions, might include a distance-learning options in September.
Initially, post-secondary institutions across Canada were forced to shut down their campuses in March due to the coronavirus health crisis, and rapidly shifted their classes online.