As the dipping temperatures and windy days signal the coming of fall, students across the region prepare for the return to school. But what does that return look like in the times of COVID-19? While there are sure to be many new developments and guidelines, there are five big changes students should be prepared for.
Online classes appear to be a new norm around the province. The virtual classroom is certain to be an adjustment for those returning for subsequent years who have grown accustom to lecture halls and hands-on learning experienced in weekly labs.
Many students are likely used to keeping a few trusty masks in their bags with consideration to municipal bylaws in place and this practice appears to be implemented on campuses as well. Universities including MacEwan University in Edmonton, Lethbridge College, and the University of Calgary to name a few have mandated mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces.
Adjusting to COVID-19 Campus Life
Many universities are keeping tabs on what is open and what is not including the University of Alberta that provides an updated list of open facilities around campus. Reduced campus activities are to be expected and the bustling campus students adjusted to in previous years will look and feel a lot different. Most universities expect a sharp decrease in the amount of students on campus; the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) reported a decrease of 62% from 2019 fall semester student counts.
A Different Residence Experience
For those living on campus, residence environments will be sharply different than in previous years. In addition to reduced capacity, shared spaces can be expected to have additional physical distancing guidelines in place and in some cases, these areas are closed indefinitely.
Resources and Toolkits
Universities and colleges are not expecting students and staff to navigate the changes on their own. Several institutions have created guides and daily checklists for students. NAIT, for example, has prepared a coming to campus checklist along with daily check-in forms to help students navigate safety procedures on campus. Other institutions, including Red Deer College, have implemented mandatory COVID-19 training for anyone coming to campus.
This year has not been without its challenges and changes and for students, and these changes will be made increasingly more evident as the school year kicks off. For those heading off to campuses around the province, it is a good idea to check up on the university or college’s restrictions as different schools have different safety measures and regulations in place.