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Lethbridge post-secondary institutions update plans for COVID-19: ‘We are preparing’

New steps being taken at Lethbridge post-secondary schools regarding COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: More than 15,000 students are enrolled at the Lethbridge College and University of Lethbridge. Eloise Therien explains what the post-secondary institutions are doing to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lethbridge has yet to confirm any cases of COVID-19, but its two largest post-secondary institutions are updating plans of action should the virus arrive in the city — or even on campuses.

“We have suspended some of our recruiting teams to areas of the world that have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus,” Doug Mackie, chief safety officer at the University of Lethbridge, said on Thursday. He added that the university has also contacted all students studying abroad.

He said the university has not suspended any activities on campus.

It’s a different story at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., where officials moved the institution’s classes online until further notice, making it one of the few universities in Canada to do so.

Simon Griffiths, the vice-president of corporate services and CFO at Lethbridge College, says that institution has online options for all its courses, but the situation hasn’t called for that yet.

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“Our primary concern is that the students are able to finish their course by the end of the academic year,” Griffiths said.

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However, the University of Lethbridge may not be able to provide online options for all of its programs.

“Some of our courses require active participation,” Mackie said. “It is something that’s going to take a little more effort, but we are preparing for that eventuality.”

READ MORE: Confirmed coronavirus cases in Alberta rise to 23, officials urge cancellation of large gatherings

Andrew Gammack, president of the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union, said he thinks the school is doing enough to make information on the outbreak known, and that it shouldn’t consider shutting down at this point in time.

“I worry about immediate action as there are a lot of students on campus that rely on very robust services, and potentially limiting that could have a lot of ill effects on students,” Gammack said.

He also urged students to follow the regulations set out by Alberta Health Services, including proper hand-washing.

“We’re aware of the conditions in the U.S, we’ve been monitoring some of their decisions there. We’re also monitoring decisions made in other universities across Canada,” Mackie said.

“Our efforts to date are for planning to remain open and continue to deliver the services that the U of L is known for.”

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Both institutions said they have been in contact with post-secondary schools across Alberta and are monitoring the situation closely.

Here is a look at the population of the institutions:

University of Lethbridge

-8,307 total students

-2,265 local students

-6,042 from outside Lethbridge

Lethbridge College: 

-6,972 total students

-4,393 local students

-2,576 from outside Lethbridge