Classes for students at the Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake will look different as they are set to return in fall.
It was back in March that TRU moved primarily online classes with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing. Though the pandemic and the number of cases has slowed down, TRU is not taking any chances.
Matt Milovick, the vice president of administration and finance at Thompson Rivers University, said that the majority of learning would take place online.
“Right now, at both of our campuses, both in Kamloops and at Williams Lake, most of the learning will happen in the fall will happen in a primarily online modality. If it can be taught online, it is,” he said. “We have probably about 10 per cent of our course offerings that will be in person. Certain labs and most of our trade’s programs will be in person where we can maintain physical distancing or have controls in place. It’s going to be a very different fall experience than what we’ve seen in the past.”
Milovick said that for the around 10 per cent of classes that will take place in person, a mask will be mandatory for staff and students, and it’s recommended where physical distancing can be maintained masks be worn, even though they will not be mandatory.
The campuses won’t be closed for students looking to study, drop-in, or who may have a poor internet connection, though it is recommended that students try to do as much work at their home or residence as possible.
Milovick said that for right now, they have no plan to move back to normal for the rest of the year, but they will be keeping an eye on the infections rate of COVID-19.
“Our faculty and our centre of teaching and learning have really worked hard to create robust offerings for the fall, but I think everybody’s intention is to get back to normal, whatever normal might look like,” he said. “We can expect some incremental reopening’s over time, whether we start to open up more cohorts back on January remains to be seen, but it is something that we’re looking at.”
With TRU having time to prepare for returning to classes, Milovick said they have been able to learn from their first go-around earlier this year.
“We’ve going to look at the past three or four months to determine what we can take from it and turn it into something positive for faculty, staff, and students going forward,” he said. ‘We have learned a lot; technology always presents challenges. We are happy that our networks are robust, I think we’ve purchased the appropriate technologies to support faculty. I think we’ve crossed a lot of those hurdles.”
He added that he believes that TRU is prepared to deliver a high-quality experience for students when they return.