Last year and the beginning of this year saw higher education institutes transition to online delivery of programmes. While this was unavoidable, the initiation of vaccination programmes all around the globe has allowed a certain degree of normalcy to return, and Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry looks forward to universities and other higher education institutions within the district of British Columbia resuming offline classes by September this year.
Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang said, “I’m encouraged by Dr. Henry’s advice that a return to in-person instruction can be done safely this fall for all students, staff and faculty.”
This revival of hope was particularly sustained by the announcement of the widescale vaccination plan that aims to administer every eligible in British Columbia with the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July.
Kang added, “This year has been incredibly hard, and I’ve heard from many students, faculty and staff who are eager to return to campus when it is safe.”
For students concerned about their safety, Kang also said,”At every step, we’re going to be working with Dr. Henry and all our partners to make sure the right measures are in place to keep people safe.”
The eagerness of staff and students alike to return to campus is most likely due to the difficulties faced while learning and teaching online. Tanysha Klassen, chairperson of the British Columbia Federation of Students said, “So many students, when they decide to go to college or university, they don’t sign up to take online courses. They sign up so they can be on campus, meet new friends, have new experiences and focus on their learning with their peers in-person.”
While an on-campus return may be good news for students and faculty, it also means that the university staff will have to prepare proper protocols to ensure the safety of all students on campuses.