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“Once the minister made the announcement, we knew we were going with what we call our Plan B,” said, Debbie Cribb, a communications officer at the college. “This is such a changeable situation but whenever there’s any question as to what is the best course of action we’re just always going with the safest.”
To students like Thom, who studies liberal arts in addition to being the president of John Abbott’s student union, the early announcement was a relief. But, though she and other students said they felt remote learning was the safest option, it brings new challenges.
New students told Thom they were worried about studying at home. “There are some students who were in public schools who literally have not been in school, in the academic mindset for six months now,” she said. “A lot of them are worried about just staying on top of their classes. Just staying focussed when you’re at home, when you’ve got all of these distractions. I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge.”
Kareem Brochu, the president of the Vanier College Students Association, raised the same concern. “This year, the greatest challenge, I think aside from health risks, will be keeping motivation up for students,” he said. “There’s just so many ways, I think, for students to lose motivation whether that’s because their classes just aren’t as engaging or just the fact they’re not getting out of the house.”
He said there was some confusion among teachers and students at Vanier over what, exactly, the courses would look like in the fall. The school had signalled its intention to hold most classes online but has yet to release a finalized plan. A spokesperson for the school said the CEGEP was preparing the details. Kareem said he had heard an announcement was due on Wednesday. Vanier starts courses on Aug. 24.
A Dawson spokesperson said in a statement that courses are mostly online for the fall 2020 semester and said the CEGEP was “putting measures in place to ensure the health and safety of our students and employees while maintaining our commitment to academic integrity and success.”
This semester, the hallways at John Abbott College, normally bustling with students, will be quiet. A few masked students may wander through. With few students on campus and staff encouraging them to keep their visits brief, campus life will be drastically different.