By Jensen, Randy on May 6, 2020.
The University of Lethbridge is preparing to offer a wide range of academic courses for the Fall 2020 semester at its Lethbridge and Calgary campuses, despite the uncertainty of the future caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will offer a robust, high-quality learning experience for our students in the fall,” says Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor. “We are planning for all scenarios and are working closely with faculty and staff to ready our courses for traditional and alternative delivery models. The safety of our community will continue to be our priority, so we will take our guidance from public health authorities about any restrictions that may still need to remain in place.”
When society is prepared to go back to more normal circumstances, the University of Lethbridge is wanting to be able to transition into classes, labs and other in-person applied learning experiences as soon and as smoothly as possible, the U of L said in a release. However, as the pandemic is an evolving situation, the university is planning for three potential scenarios for the Fall 2020 semester.
The first model follows going back to all in-person classes if public health directives permit the return. The second model follows a blended semester if public health restrictions are loosened but continue to limit the number of people who can congregate in one place. Courses will be offered in a combined way, with some held online and smaller courses and practical experience held in person.
The third model is a primarily online model if public health directs them to stay home. For the safety of the faculty, staff and students, the university is prepared to offer online learning experiences for its students, ensuring practicum, clinical, lab, studio and other applied learning experiences are offered in a timely and flexible manner to ensure students complete their programs as quickly as possible.
“We endeavour to finish the fall term the way we launch it, weaving in enhancements to the experiences as they become available, subject to public health requirements,” says Mahon. “We also commit to doing all we can to ensure students have the opportunity to graduate on time, as planned.”
The U of L is following the implementation of the Government of Alberta’s relaunch strategy, which plans the gradual reopening of the province in three phases. The decisions to list restrictions on campuses will be done in consultation with the provincial government and using advice from public health professionals.
Kathleen Massey, associate vice-present of students, says her team is working to not only create connections between students and the university, but between the students themselves.
“We are finding ways to ensure students will have an enriching university experience. We know students care a lot about the quality of their education, but also the university’s services, extra-curricular activities and most importantly the connections and friendships they make,” says Massey.
Student Affairs has begun moving many of their initiatives online, including the Student Mentorship Program, which supports students as they enter, and continue, throughout their academic career. The new uLethbridge Cares Student Liaison Initiative kicked off in late April to support current students and facilitate their connection to university services and supports, such as advising, scholarships and bursaries, counselling and more. Online learning workshops, tutoring and learning strategy sessions will be offered to all students to prepare them for success this fall and in the future.
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