On May 26, 2021, Premier Jason Kenny announced a three-stages reopening plan that could see post-secondary institutions re-opening to in-person learning by mid-June.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, 2020, most college and university students have been studying online.
In response to the newest provincial announcement, some schools have already made official announcements about their plans for fall.
“I am pleased to share that the University of Calgary will be returning to campus this fall,” the University of Calgary reports on its website. “It’s time for us to finally be together again.”
At Mount Royal University, “The current plan is that 70 to 80 per cent of course sections will be in-person, with the remainder continuing to be offered through remote delivery,” according to MRU’s website.
Bow Valley College is also planning a full return to school across all campuses this September.
“It’s always good when we are able to go back to campus,” said Liam Hunter, the president of SAIT Student’s Association as well as a third-year Mechanical Engineering Technology student. “The key is safety.”
Hunter is really excited to get back to the office because he misses interactions with people and drop-in conversations.
“I believe it’s a good news for everybody,” said Thi Tam Ngo, a first-year Hospitality Management student enrolled at SAIT.
Ngo just finished his first year without any in-person contact with classmates or instructors. If he can actually meet classmate and join in school activities in his second year, that would be “awesome.”
“I’m really excited,” Ngo said.
So is Huy Bui, a Business Administration student at SAIT.
“It’s a good idea,” Bui said. “I personally think that people should get back to school.”
He thinks that students can get the best studying environment and technology to work with in person rather than studying online.
But some students have concerns.
“I am not sure it’s a good idea since the pandemic is not totally ended,” said Nhung Dinh, a Hospitality Management student at SAIT.
She is worried that another outbreak could be happened again because no one can make sure that everyone gets vaccinated.
To prepare for students returning to in-person classes, the Alberta government has provided guidance for post-secondary institutions.
Ngo is not worried. He believes the chance of an outbreak, when the majority of instructors and students get fully vaccinated, are minimal.
Although the vaccines being deployed in the community do not completely immunize people from the COVID-19, “at least, they have 60 to 70 per cent to protect them,” Ngo said.
The University of Calgary, in its formal statement, says “as the number of vaccinated people grows, health guidelines around physical distancing and public gatherings can finally ease. This is what enables us to safely begin moving back to campus for the fall.
For safety, Bui thinks that school should require students to provide a vaccine certificate before attending school.
If SAIT or all post-secondary institutions want to re-open in fall, Dinh thinks they should have a clear and specific plan to make sure students will be safe when returning school. They should also have solutions in place anticipating bad situations.
During the height time of pandemic, SAIT had opened its door for a number of courses required to enter school such as Mechanical Engineering Technology.
According to Hunter, who had had classes in campus in the past year, SAIT already has in place a system of training for students where they talked about social distancing, sanitizing properly, handling your PP correctly, and designated entrances and exits.
SAIT was really strict with its guidelines then.
“We’ll definitely be in compliance with the guidelines,” Hunter said.
Healso says that theGateway, SAIT’s campus bar plans to reopen in fall with some limitations, and then back to full operation by the winter semester.
On June 7, 2021, SAIT President and CEO, David Ross, officiallyreleases plans for the fall reopeningon SAIT’s website.
“Safety of our SAIT community remains our top priority,” said Ross.
Spring and summer programs for 2021 will remain unchanged and SAITwill focus on preparing for students returning to school in September.