CALGARY -- Following a rollercoaster year for students, staff and faculty at the University of Lethbridge, officials announced this week a plan for the return to campus this fall. 

There hasn’t been a full campus since March 2020 and many classrooms, labs and common areas are currently sitting empty.

University president and vice-chancellor Mike Mahon is looking getting the campus back to a more normal state.

“We are in the early stages of planning for the fall 2021 semester and the planning teams that we have underway are looking to create an environment where as many students can be on campus, to some extent, as possible," he said.

Mahon understands they most won’t be able to get a full campus right off the bat and will have to take it step by step.

He added the fall semester is still a ways off, and a lot can happen over the next several months.

“We’re very aware of the continued challenge, so we will continue to plan but also continue to monitor the COVID situation,” he said.

"We will make decisions that are in the best interests of our students, faculty and staff from a health perspective."

Mahon says the school is also working on other contingency plans should they not be able to roll out the announced or even face further restrictions.

When it comes to the student body, they are excited about the recent announcement as well.

It’s been a tough year for many, especially when it comes to missing out on the classic university experience.

“This is really meant to be the time of your life,” said Ryan Lindblad, vice-president external for the university’s student union.

“It’s a little sad to see it not being what it should normally be, but that being said, student safety is our number 1 priority," he said.

Lindblad knows first-hand how strange things have been and can’t wait for the school to get back to more in-person learning.

“Both the faculty and students are, of course, missing the classroom and eager for that more normal University interaction," he said.

Should they be allowed to open to more students come September, both Mahon and Lindblad said they will be making sure to comply with any and all public health directives laid out by the Alberta government.

More information on the University of Lethbridge’s return to campus plan can be found online.