Since March and April there has been a paradigm shift from in-person learning to virtual and online delivery of programs for most post-secondary students across the country. As the school year ends for 2019-2020, many institutions have been planning for the start to the fall intake and 2020-2021 academic year.
So, what can post-secondary students expect this fall in attending classes even with increasing cases of COVID-19 surfacing in the communities recently? All post-secondary institutions continue to take guidance from the Public Health Authorities in BC to ensure all involved are protected and safe as we enter the next school year. Many institutions will continue delivering programs online in some form. This comes as no surprise given the seriousness with the pandemic. To bring too many students back to campus for in-person delivery too quickly could have devastating repercussions on the campus community and broader Canadian population. Safety is by far the primary concern in most institutions and Western Community College shares this view.
Western Community College has taken many steps to ensure the ongoing health and safety of its students, staff & faculty, as well as the community from the beginning of March with concerns for COVID-19. All necessary measures were put in place and the college was pro-active by temporarily closing its doors to transition most of its programs to be delivered virtually. Along with keeping students and faculty at home and delivering programs virtually, the college increase protocols for cleaning, put physical distancing measures in place, and procure the necessary PPEs as part of WCC’s COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan.
As we begin to see decisions made public by institutions from coast to coast, we have put in place a plan for this academic school year. However, as the situation changes and evolves, the college will adapt and take recommendations from the Government, Public Heath, Ministry for Education, and its regulatory bodies during the academic year.
Along with provisions set for domestic students, the Go-Forward Guidelines from Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training recognized that the arrival of international students is a part of all private and public institutions. WCC has taken these guidelines in planning for this academic year. The Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC) has additional information on its website as part of requirements that each institution must meet in order to be considered to host international students. International Students are required to observe and follow the guidelines set for them by PHAC including:
- Pre-arrival planning and communication with student(s)/co-arriving family member(s) on legal requirements to quarantine or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
- Transportation upon arrival to quarantine location (including avoidance of public transit).
- Quarantine supports (e.g. location options; resources for food/medical care; social/mental health supports).
- Regular and robust monitoring during 14-day period for COVID19 symptoms, well-being and compliance.
- The process for care should a student develop COVID-19 symptoms.
- Contingency for additional supports if a student should become ill during quarantine.
- Final screening by a health care professional within 24 hours of the end of self-isolation.
In addition to the above mention requirements for international students, Western Community College has put forth the plan for the 2020-2021 academic school year as followed:
Academic Calendar: September 2020 – December 2020
- All programs will continue to be offered and delivered virtually/online;
- Limiting Students: Students are assessed if needing in-person services. Students are encouraged to access virtual services first;
- In-class lab sessions:
- All students will be required to wear masks and gloves.No more than 6 students and one instructor will be allowed at one time in the HCA lab. Students will be required to wipe/sanitize the equipment after use.
- Meeting with student(s):
- Staff/Faulty are not to meet with student(s) in small offices where the physical distancing (min 2 meter / 6 feet) is not possible – use classrooms for one to one meeting
- Staff/Faulty will continue to practice physical distancing in the classrooms using techniques such as:
- Remaining far behind student(s) when providing computer assistance
- Screen sharing with student(s) from the Instructor’s desk (behind plexiglass)
- Using a classroom projector to work collaboratively on the document.
Academic Calendar: January 2021 – Onward
Western Community College will continue to monitor the situation closely and take recommendations from the Government, Public Heath, Ministry for Education, and its regulatory bodies as we move forward in the academic school year. We hope to return our students to in-class session and face-to-face program delivery as soon as it is safe to do so. Details of the academic year are available on WCC”s home page.
WCC will release and curate plans with returning to in person program delivery on campus as the academic school moves along. Follow us on our blog from the WCC’s webpage and social media for the latest updates.