U of A to deliver most classes online this fall
Some labs and smaller classes will be delivered in person in accordance with public health and safety guidelines, says president.
By MICHAEL BROWN
The University of Alberta will offer a combination of remote learning, in-person instruction and experiential learning as permitted when students are welcomed back for the fall semester.
“We’ve worked quickly to respond to COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of our community,” said U of A president David Turpin. “As always, our commitment is to provide a high-quality learning experience for our students, and to maximize university research and service activities. At the same time, our top priority must be ensuring the health and safety of our community.”
Turpin said remote learning will be the new norm for most classes during the semester, but in-person instruction will likely be permitted for smaller classes, and experiential learning—such as clinical instruction and some labs—will continue, especially in those programs where in-person instruction is essential.
He added that in cases where students cannot join activities in person, alternate arrangements will be made so that they can continue in their programs.
“One of the strengths of the decision to continue to deliver most courses remotely, with a mix of other learning opportunities where possible, is that it allows our community to deal with some of our current uncertainty,” said Turpin.
In formulating the outline for the fall semester, Turpin said university administrators are working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other post-secondary institutions to ensure plans are aligned and that public health and safety guidelines are being met.
Residences will be available for incoming students in the fall of 2020 and the winter of 2021 based on public health guidelines. As well, the university will provide accommodation packages for students, faculty and staff arriving who may be required to self-isolate.
In response to the added financial pressures the pandemic has placed on students, Turpin said the university increased the number and dollar amount of bursaries being awarded to those who are in financial need. He added tuition for fall 2020 will not change.
More information about the financial aids are available at ualberta.ca/admissions/undergraduate/tuition-and-scholarships/financial-support
U of A International continues to work on the many issues affecting international students, said Turpin, including obtaining clarification on and providing advice related to immigration and other policies. Current international students can contact email@example.com with any questions or concerns. Prospective international students may reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding fall 2020 admission.
Gradual resumption of other activities
In addition to the plans for the fall 2020 academic term, Turpin said administrators have also been preparing for the gradual resumption of research activities on campus that were required to shut down or move off campus in March.
Starting as early as this month, when the necessary safeguards and supplies are in place, on-campus research activities, including those involving both undergraduate and graduate students, will gradually resume.
Turpin anticipates that other parts of the U of A’s physical campuses will be open by September. As public health directives allow, some services will also begin to resume, such as student service desks, libraries, computer labs and retail services.
Currently, student services across the university are open and available remotely to all students, including mental health support services.
“The university will also seek new opportunities to connect students and support the campus community virtually so everyone can feel a U of A circle of support whether they are able to be in Alberta this September or not,” said Turpin.
In June, the Fall 2020 Planning Group will deliver a unified plan to address all functions and operations necessary for the university to fulfil its mission as of the fall 2020 academic term.
“As planning progresses and activities begin to resume, it is important to stress that the health and safety of our community continues to be our top priority,” he said. “We will need to remain flexible and responsive to changing conditions.”