St. Clair College President Patti France applauded Wednesday's announcement by Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano, allowing colleges to resume limited in-person classes in a range of programs that require hands-on work so that students can complete their studies.
"We are, of course, elated by the Minister's announcement," France said.
"We're especially happy for our 2019-20 students in the various programs that were unable to fully complete their mandatory clinical training and other hands-on requirements due to the pandemic's interference with the Winter semester. This means, now, that they should be able to complete their programs, graduate, and enter the job marketplace within a matter of a few months."
France said St. Clair will first focus on opening labs for students who require time to finish their Winter Semester, and the College will then turn its attention to students in the Spring Semester. These are students in programs that require lab work and other in-person instruction to fulfill the programs’ requirements. Individual communications will be sent to students in the affected programs by their program coordinators with further instructions.
Waseem Habash, Vice President, Academic, said another group of students – many of them in Health Sciences – will still require placements in the community. “We will now have to figure out how we can get those placements back on track,” he said.
Ontario’s colleges cancelled in-person classes in March, and shifted to online delivery to protect students, faculty, employees and others from COVID-19.
Due to the dedication and tremendous efforts of faculty and staff, the transition to remote learning was very successful. Colleges found a range of innovative ways to ensure students continued to receive high-quality programs.
Colleges have continued to collaborate with Minister Romano and public health officials on the safe return of in-person classes. St. Clair College has developed a plan that includes guidelines for physical distancing, protocols for cleaning, and rules for using personal protective equipment (PPE).
France said the limited safe return to campus in July and August will allow St. Clair to plan for a blended delivery and learning model in the Fall. “No one really knows what COVID will bring. But it’s really important for us to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
"I remain hopeful that the Fall semester will include some component of in-person, on-campus instruction for many of our post-secondary programs. Most lectures may continue to be delivered in on-line fashion during the Autumn, but our preparations during the impending pilot project phase should allow many of our hands-on labs, clinics and workshops to be delivered in an in-person manner."
France emphasized, "As we have been during the past several months, we will continue to consult frequently with – and be bound by the recommendations of – the provincial Ministries of Colleges and Universities and of Health, and by the region's Health Unit. Collectively, the paramount concern of the College and those agencies is the health and safety of St. Clair's students and staff; and it is their well-being that will dictate everything we do both during the pilot project phase and afterwards."
France thanked Minister Romano and the provincial government for their leadership in allowing St. Clair to move forward. “It has certainly required a lot of creativity and a lot of scenario planning to make sure we’re capturing everything.”