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Lethbridge post-secondary schools prepare to welcome more students to campus this fall

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge post-secondary schools prepare to welcome more students to campus this fall' Lethbridge post-secondary schools prepare to welcome more students to campus this fall
As vaccines continue to roll out, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to become more manageable, which has Lethbridge’s college and university planning to welcome more students back to campus this fall – Mar 12, 2021

Just like everyone, post-secondary schools in Lethbridge are eager to return to a greater sense of normalcy, which is why they’re planning to accommodate more students on campus this fall.

“More will come as we hear more about the directive from the government and the health mandates,” said Lindsay Workman, associate dean of student services with Lethbridge College.

“My hope would be that we’re able to offer more in-person campus experiences for our students as long as we’re able to do so,” she added.

Given the college’s success in navigating the pandemic over the past two semesters, it is confident it will be able to provide more in-class opportunities.

Read more: NDP wants Alberta government to make changes to post-secondary budget

“We are proud of the work we’ve done over the past year for the on-campus learning experiences we’ve been able to provide to our students, while following all of the health guidelines to keep everybody safe,” Workman said.

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The college says during the current winter term, students frequently had on-campus experiences and a variety of trades and health sciences programs had a constant on-campus presence.

Across a variety of programs, more than 20 courses and 25 lab sections were offered on-campus during the winter term, along with environmental sciences programs that offered outdoor experiences.

In total, the college averaged nearly 400 students on campus each day in February.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge post-secondary institutions report steady enrolment despite COVID-19 pandemic' Lethbridge post-secondary institutions report steady enrolment despite COVID-19 pandemic
Lethbridge post-secondary institutions report steady enrolment despite COVID-19 pandemic – Jan 15, 2021

“We have surveyed our students and heard how much they value the on-campus experience,” said Dr. Samantha Lenci, Lethbridge College provost and vice president – academic.

“We know it positively affects the learning outcomes of our students to receive hands-on training, and we know we can safely offer on-campus labs and classes because we have already done it successfully,” Lenci said.

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The University of Lethbridge is also confident its experiences from the past year will allow it to take a step back from distance learning, while still maintaining a safe environment for everyone on campus.

The university has made some key decisions allowing for an increased number of students on campus.

Residences are expected to accommodate at least 700 students in the fall — a significant increase from the 285 units occupied this past year — and residence applications are currently being accepted through the Housing Services Application Portal.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year in terms of how to manage folks on campus, both from a PPE perspective and as well as from a physical distancing perspective and (from) all of the requirements,” said Mike Mahon, president of the University of Lethbridge.

Read more: Alberta post-secondary students protest government tuition hike with snow penguins

The university says with the news that all adult Albertans will have the opportunity to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine shot by the end of June 2021, and additional vaccines being approved for use in Canada, the chances of having a full return to campus is becoming more of a reality.

The U of L has conducted several surveys on what students want, and an overall desire to be back on campus is evident.

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“We’re a university that’s known for its in-person student centered experience, that’s why 70 per cent of our students come from away and they come down to Lethbridge from Calgary and other parts of Alberta because they want that in-person experience, they want the smaller class sizes,” Mahon stated.

Click to play video: 'Post-secondary students in Lethbridge move into residence' Post-secondary students in Lethbridge move into residence
Post-secondary students in Lethbridge move into residence – Aug 31, 2020

The university is also pushing back the start of its Fall 2021 registration cycle by seven weeks as it ramps up planning for the expansion of in-person experiences.

By moving the start of registration to May 4, the school says students should have all the course information they need to map out their plans for the fall semester.

Both institutions will have more information on exactly how many in-person classes will be offered in the coming months as more details become finalized.

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