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Calgary post-secondary schools eyeing online courses through 2020
CALGARY -- Universities and colleges are scrambling to figure out what the fall semester will look like when students return to class.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her daily address Wednesday that health officials and cabinet aren’t ready to make a decision on reopening face-to-face classes again.
"Returning to school will be a very big decision," said Hinshaw.
She suggested schools are just like other segments of the economy under consideration of reopening based on case trends, but when they do reopen, an emphasis will be on handwashing and possibly, mask-wearing.
Mount Royal University
Calgary’s Mount Royal University is eyeing four different scenarios for the fall semester.
"The first would be if social distancing would be fully relaxed so we could deliver face-to face courses. That would be a return to normal," said Stephen Price, MRU dean of health, community and education.
"There's a possibility we would have to start with an alternative delivery model, and that could occur in September and run the entire semester, or at some point there could be a staged return of people to campus or a full return of people to campus."
The fourth possibility, according to Price, would see classes resuming face to face, but being forced back online by a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Price said MRU has formed a working group, which will meet Thursday afternoon, to focus on these four scenarios and decide how the institution will move forward.
"That group will try to look at what are the implications for instructors? What are the implications from the admissions perspective? And what are the implications from on campus services as well."
MRU is also preparing to begin their spring and summer semester online, which starts on May 4.
University of Calgary
The University of Calgary said it has not finalized its options for the fall semester, though sessional instructors have told CTV News they have been advised to prepare for online delivery through to the end of the year.
Jessica Revington, president of the U of C student union, said the priority must be making sure the students are looked after.
"Most student concerns have been focused on the upcoming spring and summer term. That being said, we recognize that the fall semester will quickly become top of mind for many undergraduate students," said Revington.
"We’re looking forward to working with the university on potential contingency plans for fall 2020 to ensure that the quality of student education, the students experience, is not compromised."
The U of C spring/summer term is set to begin May 6.
In a statement, Chris Gerritsen, spokesperson for SAIT Polytechnic, said the school is planning for the possibility of students being unable to return to campus in September.
"We are eager to see our students in the fall," said Gerritsen. "However, these are unprecedented times so we are preparing a number of scenarios should students and staff not be able to return to campus in September, which includes the continued delivery of programs online."
The final day of SAIT’s winter semester, which moved to an online format last month, is April 24.
Several U.S. universities have already announced plans to keep courses online until at least the beginning of 2021.