College of New Caledonia (CNC) students can expect an extra week of rest between semesters this year, as the college has delayed the general start to the winter term to Jan. 11, 2021.
This change acknowledges the added stresses students faced during the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release from CNC.
“The fall term has not been easy for anyone,” said Dr. Chad Thompson, CNC vice-president academic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to navigate through fear, stress and loneliness. These added stressors have been exhausting. I hope this added time off will help students recharge and be ready to see the pandemic through to the end.”
Thompson says they really want to give students a break, but he encourages all students to check the CNC website to make sure they know their program’s start date, as they could not all be pushed forward.
“All students really need to check online what the start date of their programs will be because some of the programs, like the health programs in Quesnel, the semester start date couldn’t change — they’ve got very tight schedules for clinical rotation, and so they will still be resuming as originally scheduled, so students really need to check that,” he said.
The delay will not affect professional and trades programs with unique scheduling or community partnerships. Students will be notified by their program if the January term begins on a date other than Jan. 11.
Thompson says almost every program at CNC is offered online or as a hybrid program due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“There are a few exceptions, such as the Health Care Assistant program in Quesnel, which has been running face-to-face,” he said. “We were able to do that with physical distancing and the necessary protective measures. Most programs in the Health Sciences, such as the first two years of the Bachelor of Nursing program down in Quesnel, they’re able to do their laboratory work on campus — we’ve had to do a lot of adjustments in terms of group sizes and such like that to ensure we are able to comply with all of the safety regulations and keep our students and our staff safe. Then there are programs that are able to operate entirely online, which don’t have a lab or a shop component which is necessary for students to come in.”
Thompson says most of the trades programming is hybrid, with the classroom portions being done online, but with the shop portions being done in the shop face-to-face.
“The biggest change, of course, in a place like a lab setting has been having a much smaller number of students in a lab at any one point so they can maintain the physical distancing,” said Thompson. “There are places where we’ve put up Plexiglas barriers to provide that level of protection. Masks are now being worn indoors, the necessary safety gear. The Quesnel Campus has been really engaged in working with the director of safety and security to make sure that we’re delivering all of the activities safely and that we’re still able to continue a lot of those continuing education courses that are really in-demand in Quesnel.”
In terms of student services, Thompson says they have not reduced any services due to the pandemic, just adjusted them.
“We are offering a full suite of services,” he said. “It is a combination of things, so there is still some face-to-face ability, by telephone, by video link, whatever is necessary to provide the particular service that is required.”
Thompson says although there have been many changes to how programs are delivered, these changes are not keeping prospective students away.
“There still is definitely a great deal of interest,” he said. “Classes are in some cases, we have wait lists still. The numbers are still very, very strong and very healthy. It is definitely a different style of college than what students had expected, but I always would say that in this time of uncertainty, the single best thing any prospective student can do is get a post-secondary education. That is the way to give yourself some certainty, to give yourself stability as we start to kind of look towards the end of the pandemic.”
Thompson is grateful to the staff and students who have worked so hard to navigate through the challenges of COVID-19.
“A huge thank you to all of the staff at CNC Quesnel who have done so much to keep the campus going for the students and the community, and to the students, I would encourage everybody to be safe and be smart over the holidays,” he said. “With the announcements we’ve had this week about the vaccine, the end is in sight, but we’re not there yet, so this is really the time for everybody to take those steps we need to keep ourselves, our loved ones, our classmates, our friends safe.”
For more information about CNC’s upcoming winter semester, visit cnc.bc.ca.