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Coronavirus: University of Manitoba students, staff weigh in on remote learning

Classes will look a lot different at the University of Manitoba this fall, as post-secondary institution transitions to remote learning amid COVID-19. .
Classes will look a lot different at the University of Manitoba this fall, as post-secondary institution transitions to remote learning amid COVID-19. . Global News File

Classes will look a lot different at the University of Manitoba this fall, as the post-secondary institution transitions to remote learning amid COVID-19.

University of Manitoba vice-president John Kearsey says there will be some rare exceptions where students will have to gather.

“[There will be] some exceptions, you can imagine — things like medicine and where there’s laboratories involved, where students will need to gather, but that will be done at a rare exception,” Kearsey said.

“There will be a lot of discussion about that and we’ll make sure we’re putting the safety precautions in place to ensure the students have a safe and positive experience.”

READ MORE: If COVID-19 forces classes to remain online, should universities cut tuition?

University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) president Jelynn Dela Cruz says while she understands the important role 30,000 U of M students play in keeping Manitoba’s COVID-19 curve flat, she has concerns students having access to resources.

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“Students do get the brunt of this online shift,” she told Global News.

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“More specifically, students who don’t have access to high speed internet in rural communities, for example, or access to devices to connect with their peers.”

She also says there are concerns over the quality of learning.

“There are still shortcomings in terms of learning just because learning how to do the job and learning from a digital platform is incomparable to being able to do that in person,” Dela Cruz said, adding that UMSU is focusing on ensuring students have the resources they need in place by the fall so they can get the same value in education with online courses.

READ MORE: University of Manitoba says province is cutting 5% of operating budget, layoffs possible

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) also says the biggest impact will be on the students.

“The students that wanted online courses were taking online courses,”UMFA president Janet Morrill said. “And the students who are going to be affected are the ones who prefer that face-to-face delivery; that’s what we’re all used to.

“You’re giving something up when you’re moving away from face-to-face delivery.”

From “stay home” to “stay safe”; a shift in Manitoba health officials’ messaging
From “stay home” to “stay safe”; a shift in Manitoba health officials’ messaging

Morrill says professors have concerns about the workload involved with switching courses from in-person to online.

“I do think that people are tremendously concerned about the amount of work involved,” she said.

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“We’re all looking at having to entirely convert, for most of us, at least two courses. For some people it could be more than that. In the past if you converted a course to an online course, you would get a course relief for doing that because it’s a huge amount of work.”