Red Deer College’s winter term enrolment has dropped six per cent but the mix of online and in-person courses and programs appears to be going over well.
“Similar to the trend we saw in fall 2020, the decline is in first-year credit students,” said RDC president Peter Nunoda in an update.
In light of the pandemic and the government’s health guidelines, the college is offering a mix of online, in-person and blended courses and programs.
“The course offerings have been determined by curriculum-based decisions that allow us to best-serve students and support their success,” said Nunoda.
Each week day, between 2,000 and 3,000 students are on campus, at staggered times throughout the day.
The approach is similar to the one taken in fall, with some tweaks based on that experience.
In addition to COVID-19 training and the daily completion of a contact tracing checklist, each person who comes to campus is required to wear a face covering and adhere to a variety of other measures.
“We have also enhanced RDC’s COVID-19 reporting form for anyone who is ill, has had a close contact or has tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.
“RDC has worked hard to create the framework and protocols that set our college community up for success in preventing exposure to illness, and now we are working to educate everyone on campus about their responsibility to keep each other healthy and safe.”
Planning for the spring term is already underway and more changes may be made if necessary.
Meanwhile, the college is waiting patiently for word on the transition to university status. It is being considered as part of the province’s ongoing post-secondary system review.
Brittany Lausen, president of the Students’ Association of Red Deer College, welcomes the college’s approach, which allows students the choice to attend classes in-person or not.
“This Monday was the first time I’ve seen a relatively full parking lot since March. It was really nice actually to see students back,” said Lausen.
“I have a class back on campus, which is really great because I haven’t sat in a class since March, much like my peers.”
Lausen’s management class on introduction to stocks saw about 14 show up in person while a similar number live-streamed from elsewhere.
“What students are really loving is the choice. Students have options now,” said Lausen.
“If there is one positive we can take from COVID in a post-secondary setting is providing a flexibility of learning for students,” she said, adding she feels she gets more out of attending classes in person.
“No two students are the same and each student needs something slightly different.”
Students take a number of measures to be safe. Students go on a college app and answer general health conditions each day and provide some information about their planned whereabouts on campus.
That information is kept by the college so students can be alerted if there is a positive case among someone they may have come in contact with.
“There’s a spot on the app where you can say what part of the college you’re going to or if you’re going to be in a specific classroom.”
For instance, if Lausen plans to go to the students’ association office she inputs that information into the app.