Kingston-area post-secondary schools are making plans for a return to in-person learning this fall.
Queen’s University, St. Lawrence and Loyalist College have made their intentions known to students. But with the pandemic heating up, it remains unclear if their best laid plans can move ahead.
In a perfect world — a non-COVID-19 world — the fall semester would be like it was before the pandemic struck. But those days are gone and a return to the classroom for face-to-face learning will include protocols in place.
While it’s still months away, officials at St. Lawrence College have told students that where possible, on-campus learning will begin in September.
“We’ve been a college now … for 54 years. We’ve been getting ready for a fall semester, and yes, there are more challenges this time around, but this is what we do,” said Glenn Vollebregt, president and CEO of the tri-campus (Brockville and Cornwall) institution.
“We’re a college, we know how to do this and our folks know how to do this — we’re professionals and we’re looking forward to getting back to face-to-face instruction.”
Loyalist College in Belleville is also in lockstep. Queen’s University, too, would like to return to in-person classes. University officials are also looking to the area’s medical officer of health for guidance.
Dr Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, has spoke with Queen’s officials.
“There a lot of issues still be to finalized,” Moore said. “I haven’t put it in writing and we’re just reviewing our progress. Probably by the end of April we’ll be able to write something more formal to the university on our opinion of full return.”
Moore says a number of factors have to be taken into consideration when it comes to a decision to return to in-person classes for the fall semester.
“I have to be up front: we had preliminary discussions with Queen’s, I’ve given them some guidance with that hope that with full vaccinations we could have a return to school in September for all of our post-secondary settings,” Moore said.
“The real kicker, though, is variants of concern, vaccine supply and (maximizing) the delivery of vaccine.”
Queen’s did not have anyone available for an interview on Tuesday.