COVID-19: Online learning to continue at Fleming College and Trent University for spring semester

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COVID-19: Online learning to continue at Fleming College and Trent University for spring semester
Both Fleming College and Trent University hope to welcome students back soon. But as long as public health restrictions remain in place, classes will most likely remain online. Mark Giunta reports – Apr 27, 2021

As the pandemic forges on, Fleming College and Trent University will continue with mostly online learning for the upcoming spring semesters, which run into the summer.

At Fleming, the winter term ends on Friday and the spring term starts on May 17.

“The next semester we will maintain operations as we have right now,” said college president Maureen Adamson.

“Everything we’ve done since the beginning has been anchored in safety. We’re going to continue down that road. Probably in the fall, we’ll look like we do now with hopes by winter we can invite many, many more on campus.”

Fifty-five per cent of the students at the college had partial online classes during the winter term, while the other 45 per cent were fully online.

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Approximately 700 students still had some classes at Fleming’s Sutherland Campus in Peterborough during the winter semester.

No student had courses fully in person this year.

Adamson tells Global News Peterborough the situation remains fluid and planning is done daily ahead of the spring and fall semesters.

“Our plans are to remain hybrid. We’re very agile and are able to pivot as needed. We’ll remain that way and bring those in person onto campus in a very restricted and safe way as we’re doing right now.”

Adamson notes the pandemic has affected enrolment at the campuses.

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COVID-19 taking tragic toll on mental health of international students

“Most definitely enrolment has been adversely impacted, particularly with our international students.  Also with the number of sections we have to offer with classrooms of 10 people or less,” Adamson added.

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“Last summer, we were able to use those months for the folks who were interrupted (by the pandemic) to get them across the finish line. This year we’ve managed through the various changes and we’re not expecting to have a number of boot camps this summer. But if something changes, we will because it’s most important to us that our students are successful and we’ll get them there.”

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At Trent University, most students are finishing the winter semester with virtual exams this week.

That culminates another term where the university had to pivot from in-person to online learning.

“Our whole semester was primarily online,” said Michael Khan, university provost and vice-president academic.

“We were planning to have more in-person classes in the winter semester, because that’s what students and professors were looking forward to, but we had to pivot from those plans.

“The summer semester begins in a few weeks and again, that will primarily be online. That works out quite well for our students, who have headed home.”

Moving ahead to the fall semester, which begins in September, officials with the university continue to plan and monitor the situation.

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“It’s a very fluid situation. We are optimistic and are planning to be back in person in the fall. Obviously, we would adhere to whatever health and safety protocols are in place at that time,” Khan said.

But at the same time, the university is also looking at contingency plans should it not be able to open up for in-person learning in September.

“For example, if we are limited in terms of class size or if we have social-distancing restrictions placed on us. While we are planning to be back in person, we are looking at measures, if needed.”

Click to play video: '‘It has not been easy’ Trent University student shares challenges of virtual learning'
‘It has not been easy’ Trent University student shares challenges of virtual learning

Khan said it’s likely that students will have a hybrid year of both online and in-person learning.

“That is our direction for our pivot and contingency plans. If we have large classes, some of those might have to be remote and then our smaller classes, we’d look at ways to make those in-person with whatever safety measures are in place.”

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Enrolment has also been impacted by the pandemic and the recent decision to not allow flights into Canada from India has impacted the upcoming semester for a group of international students.

“We were expecting about 40 students, 20 from India, to be here on May 1 and now we have to look at alternate plans for them. Our summer semester is mostly remote so there may be opportunities for them.”

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