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How are Universities and Colleges Preparing for the Fall?

As COVID-19 struck communities all over the world, it brought about changes in almost every aspect of our lives. Corporations moved operations online, in-person classes were cancelled, and big social events were put on hold. While the hope is that this virus will be largely contained by the end of the summer, there is no guarantee. With the uncertainty of the virus, post-secondary institutions across Canada are acting cautiously, and several have announced full or partial online delivery in the fall semester. What are the implications of this new format for the student experience? This article will address some of the important changes that are coming, and it will give students a sense of what to expect.

Please note, the information in this article is current as of the beginning of July 2020 but as circumstances evolve, some of these decisions may also change.

Online Delivery of Courses

Some of the country’s biggest universities such as the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa and McGill University have announced plans to have mostly online classes in the fall. Canadian colleges such as Fanshawe College, Humber College and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology are in a similar position, planning to offer a mix of online and in-person delivery.
Several schools have indicated that researchers will be some of the first people granted access back into facilities, however, they will be operating under new safety regulations to lower the risks. For undergraduate courses, most schools are hoping to have some level of in-person activity, particularly for lab and experientially-based courses. However, if you are unable or unwilling to return to campus this fall, many universities have made provisions that will allow students to take all of their courses online. Some students have opted to defer the classes that they feel would be best done in-person to a later semester.
It is also important to understand that the level of in-person activity is heavily dependent on the location of your school and your program of study. So be sure to check your school’s website consistently for updates and do not be afraid to reach out to members of the faculty or administration for additional information if needed.

University Residences

Some schools, such as King’s University College (at Western University), Queen’s University and George Brown College will be offering a modified version of residence accommodations in the fall. Naturally, the capacities of the residences have been reduced in order to comply with health and safety regulations. At all three of these institutions, only single rooms will be offered in the fall. Be sure to check out your school’s residence website for information about how your school is handling the situation!

Sports and On-Campus Clubs

University athletics play a major part in the university experience for many students. For student-athletes, it can be one of the main reasons for attending a certain school, and for others, it can be a great form of entertainment that keeps things interesting throughout the year. Unfortunately, U SPORTS (the governing body for varsity Canadian university sports leagues) has announced the cancellation of fall championships in 2020; varsity-level sporting events are on pause for the time being. Furthermore, they have enforced a moratorium on in-person recruiting until June 30th, 2020. This includes campus visits and facility tours. The bright side is that student-athletes will still be training and throughout the fall semester and will surely come back with an eagerness to play in the fall of 2021 that will make the events all the more entertaining!

While the reduced presence of the students on campus this fall will certainly affect the activities of campus clubs, there are still many positions that need to be filled! Some clubs are moving a portion of their operations online, while others are taking the time to fulfil administrative duties and get a head start on event planning for when campuses fully re-open. Be on the look-out both now and in the fall for clubs that may interest you and that are still hiring!

So maybe your first year is not going to turn out exactly how you planned it, but guess what? Almost nobody’s first year ever does. Yes, this may be a bigger wrench in the works than most other years have experienced, but that’s doesn’t mean this year can’t be fun! We are sure you’ll find ways to have a great time with the changes that have been imposed. Stay optimistic, class of 2024!

This article was researched and written by Arinze Imasogie. Arinze is a mechanical engineering student from Queen’s University who acts like a Swiss Army knife for HigherEdPoints! From blog posts to marketing solutions, Arinze plays a part in anything and everything as needed.