Students at Thompson Rivers University will be taking most of their classes online during the upcoming fall and winter terms.
Matt Milovick, vice-president of administration and finance at TRU, tells Castanet virtual instruction will account for 90 per cent of learning while the other 10 per cent will be in-classroom.
"Most of our trades programs are running in-person and we have all the safety precautions in place for that. They’ve actually been running quite successfully over the summer as well, so trades is mostly unaffected," he says. "Basically, any theory course that can be delivered virtually is being delivered virtually."
Like many other universities, TRU moved to online instruction at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, students have adapted.
"Anecdotally, a number faculty are saying that the engagement online was actually more than they experienced in class," Milovick says. "The experience definitely will be different but TRU is committed to delivering the same high-quality educational experiences online as we did in person. Learning is different but the quality and the outcomes are the same."
On July 27, the B.C. government amended its order on gatherings to exempt universities from adhering to the 50-person limit for educational activities. Milovick says when that change came through, TRU had already wrapped up its planning for the fall and winter semesters.
"Our planning for the fall is already done in the spring. ... We will look at opportunities to do more in-person (instruction) but is difficult because students will make plans. Some of them will choose to study remotely from their communities and then switch gears halfway through the academic term… is problematic," Milovick explains.
As for on-campus facilities, some will be closed and some will be open. The library building will not be open to visitors this fall; however, staff will be offering library services electronically and will launch some new services to support faculty and students.
A few study spaces and computer labs will remain open, Milovick says, with physical distancing protocols in place.
"We know sometimes students have challenges, with internet access or just being able to access a computer, so we thought that was important. But they will be in a controlled and safe environment."
Meanwhile, international students arriving on campus will have to quarantine at either the North Tower residence or in one of the McGill buildings.
"They're on a meal plan and there are regular check-ins with them to make sure that their physical and mental health is doing OK," Milovick says.
The day-to-day routine isn't the only thing taking the hit. On Monday, Castanet reported that TRU is facing a $9-million deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
To learn more about what to expect this upcoming semester, click here.