Post-secondary students in Quesnel continue to learn their subjects, but courses are being delivered in new ways as both the College of New Caledonia (CNC) and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) work to reduce face-to-face contact and stop the spread of COVID-19.
At CNC, as of Monday, March 23, classes are resuming using alternate delivery, and most services and supports will be provided through a combination of online and telephone methods. The college will not provide face-to-face services in most cases.
”The new service delivery methods will be in effect at the same time as students are engaging in alternate learning formats, reducing the need to physically be on campus,” president and CEO Dr. Dennis Johnson said in an update posted March 20 on the college’s website.
“It is important to note that although campuses will remain open, we are putting in a number of enhancements to ensure social distancing, as well as create a reduction in the number of people on-site at any one time.”
At this time, all non-essential events are cancelled, all recreation services are closed, all college international travel is suspended, and all incoming international travellers are advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
For the Office of the Registrar and Admissions, service is available by phone, email and other digital means. Aboriginal Resources and Support services are available by phone, email and other digital means. As well, Accessibility Services and Information Technology services are available by phone, email and other digital means.
Academic Advising services and Testing and Tutorial services are available by phone, email and other digital means, Counselling services and Financial Aid are also available by phone, email or other digital means.
“This change in service delivery enables us to reduce density at our campuses and to promote social distancing, while supporting the health and safety of the college community,” said Johnson. “We are committed to supporting our students, staff and community through continuing operations, just in a different way.”
Service areas will have signage with instructions on how to access services through telephones and emails, and students are encouraged to visit cnc.bc.ca/COVID for details and regular updates.
“Your co-operation and understanding as we transition our service model is appreciated,” said Johnson. “We are certainly in a time of change, and I know the CNC community is open to and will embrace a safe and healthy work environment.”
UNBC is also using alternate methods for teaching classes, and the university has decided to stay away from face-to-face course delivery for its May semester as well.
At UNBC, all classes are running using alternate modes of delivery. Final exams will not be conducted in a face-to-face format. Faculty, chairs and deans will work on alternate modes of assessment and communicate with students, according to UNBC’s website.
UNBC campuses remain open, and services such as the library, food services and student housing remain open, although some service levels may need to be changed or have already changed.
In his end-of-day online update for Monday, March 23, interim president and vice-chancellor Geoff Payne noted the university is moving towards less and less face-to-face contact.
“So far, we have taken significant steps towards reducing face-to-face contact,” he said. “We’re providing course delivery and assessment through alternate delivery modes, and a large number of our academic, research and administrative services are being delivered remotely. Moving forward, however, I anticipate we will move to a phase in which we will only deploy the most critical in-person services and people to maintain our physical locations, student services, and academic mission.”
At this time, UNBC has also decided to move all courses for its May semester to alternative modes of delivery and assessment.
“I know this presents challenges, but given the evolving situation, this was the best decision at our disposal to ensure that we are doing our part as a community to slow the spread of the virus, while supporting our students in their educational journey,” Payne wrote in the March 23 update.
In his update, Payne also encourages staff and students to take care of themselves.
“We are all experiencing a range of physical, emotional and behavioural reactions to this situation,” he said. “What we feel or how we react is normal in distressing situations; increased anxiety, disbelief, sadness compounded by self-isolation can be difficult. The UNBC Coronavirus (COVID-19) website has handouts and reference links you may find useful. Don’t hesitate to contact our EFAP provider (Homewood Health) or Shelley McKenzie, Director of Health and Wellbeing.”
Last week, UNBC activated its Emergency Operations Centre, which allows the university to make decisions in a quick and co-ordinated manner.
Payne is impressed with the way staff and faculty have handled the transition to alternate modes of delivery and the changes being made.
“Our faculty have done a tremendous amount of work in a very short timeframe in order to ensure our students finish the semester successfully,” he said. “I am seeing active conversations around campus and online in which our faculty are sharing advice, tips, and tricks to further enhance our students’ experience online. Our faculty have demonstrated undeniable leadership in putting students first, for which our community is grateful. I also commend our Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. From webinars to tailored solutions, the team has outdone themselves in providing exceptional support and service to our faculty and students.”
With everything going on, UNBC has pushed back its 2021 registration date.
The university usually opens registration in early April, but due to current operational realities, UNBC will open registration for September 2020 and January 2021 on May 15.
Daily updates are being provided on UNBC’s website at unbc.ca/coronavirus.