Red Deer College says it will announce in October whether more of its courses will be conducted next term in classrooms, rather than online.
RDC classes started Sept. 3, and about 80 per cent of its 6,200 students are enrolled in online classes. The rest require labs and industry-related training on campus in small groups.
Brittany Lausen, president of the Students’ Association of Red Deer College, said the group is hopeful RDC can welcome more students back on campus in January, if safe to do so and social distancing can be met.
“With online learning, students are finding that they are struggling with internet speed, especially in rural communities. As well, they don’t have the space for an office, or there are other distractions such as pets, or children,” she said in a statement.
“Students that have in-person class are grateful to be in person and on campus, grateful to leave the house. Although in-person student services are limited.”
She said more flexibility and understanding of testing options for online students are needed to reduce stress and anxiety associated with exams.
Adequate mental health supports should be available to students, whether they are in person or online, said Lausen, especially for the rapidly approaching midterm season.
College president Peter Nunoda said in a statement that RDC worked extensively before the start of the fall term to determine which courses required in-person learning to support student success.
Students in these courses are currently taking in-person shops and labs, following Alberta Health and RDC guidelines.
He said by following the plan established for this fall, RDC is allowing students and instructors to move through their courses in a planned manner.
Students may live outside of Red Deer, for example, so transitioning from online to in-person instruction in the middle of a term would not serve these students well.
“Given the needs of our post-secondary students, we won’t be making changes to delivery methods to increase in-person opportunities within the fall term. We’re currently working through scenarios and planning for winter-term delivery,” Nunoda said.
On Thursday, the University of Alberta in Edmonton announced it was exploring opportunities to increase in-person courses for its 2021 winter session. Details will be available in mid-November.
“We will explore all opportunities to increase our current roster of in-person course offerings on our campuses to maximize student learning up to 30 per cent,” said U of A president Bill Flanagan in a statement on the university’s blog.