As students return to class this fall, most are engaging with their faculty professors via virtual instruction platforms. But many schools, such as University Canada West in Vancouver, have also been working hard to ensure that the in-class experience is a safe and welcoming one.
At UCW, the school’s fall registration closes Oct. 16. It has implemented a blended learning delivery for the fall term at its West Pender Campus and in its new Vancouver House Campus, students will have access to online classes and limited on-campus learning. The strategy in place is that they will do preparation work in the university’s online student portal for their course before attending on-campus learning sessions with professors.
“Since the onset of COVID‐19, the safety of our students, staff, and faculty have been at the forefront of our response. We have adapted our teaching delivery methods and supports to ensure students can continue to succeed,” says UCW president Brock Dykeman.
Masks required and classrooms sanitized
Working closely with public health authorities and B.C.’s provincial government, UCW has developed a detailed plan for students and staff to safely return to campus. As CourseCompare reported earlier this fall, schools like UCW are making sure students, faculty and staff are safe when attending campus facilities. As part of UCW’s plan, the university is hiring Student Health Ambassadors — students who will help ensure students are maintaining physical distancing while attending class and other activities on campus.
Student Health Ambassadors will assist students, staff and faculty with the return to campus and ensure that:
- Physical distancing guidelines are practiced by students, staff and faculty on campus and in the classroom.
- Only the maximum number of people are present in each classroom, elevator and level of the campus.
- Furniture in and outside of the classrooms is kept two meters apart to maintain physical distancing, and that equipment, such as hand sanitizer and masks, are available.
- Incoming and outgoing traffic in common areas, like hallways, lounges and classrooms is monitored and managed.
- Classrooms are sanitized between classes.
“During these uncertain times, our team is working hard to help students pursue their academic dreams safely and responsibly. At the same time, we are thrilled to be opening our new Vancouver House campus, in the centre of one of the world’s most livable cities, for the fall term starting in October,” says Cyndi McLeod, CEO, Global University Systems Canada.
The comprehensive UCW safety plan also includes:
- Mandatory masks for everyone on campus,
- Directional signs to help students, staff and faculty maintain physical distancing,
- Protective barriers in areas where students interact with staff, hand sanitizer stations at all entrances, in classrooms and common areas,
- Limited seating capacity in all classrooms, and
- Frequent sanitization of all high-touch areas.
“Our team is here to help students reach their academic goals in a safe and responsible manner,” says Dykeman.
Action plan for international students
New international students starting their studies in October can now take all their first-term courses online from their home country. Previously, international students without a study permit were only eligible to start a single course online. International students with or without Approvals-in-Principle (AIP) can start their full program online if they intend to arrive in Canada after travel restrictions are lifted.
Students who are unable to take classes in Vancouver for the fall term will still be able to access their classes online and start on-campus studies at a later date.
All student services are available both online and in person.
UCW is also providing $455,000 in financial assistance to international students required by the federal government to self-isolate in a hotel for their first 14 days in Canada. The university will provide each student self-isolating in a hotel with a $650 voucher and additional support.
Students arriving in British Columbia must submit a self-isolation plan, a legal commitment to self-isolate that is enforceable under the Public Health Act. The plan must include where the students will stay, how they will get there (it cannot be on public transit), how they will get groceries and how they will access essential services and medical care.
UCW has created a Pre-Arrival Package so students can prepare for their journey to Canada and UCW. The package includes information you need to know before you leave, while in transit and once you arrive.
UCW has also compiled a list of isolation resources for incoming students, including special accommodation rates for UCW students at various hotels in Vancouver (please note that Hotel Vouchers can only be applied to hotels booked through Hotels.com).
With the goal of making sure students are doing OK, the university’s Student Affairs team will contact students to check on their mental and physical wellbeing and provide them with online social, wellness and entertainment activities.