TIMMINS, ON: As classes for 2021 begin for another semester, Northern College is looking to teach, learn, support and inspire one another with great care during highly unusual times.
The vast majority of classes at Northern will be taught online as has been done over the past several months. Where essential on-site learning and testing is taking place, strict pre-screening, PPE will be worn, and physical distancing protocols will continue to be followed.
“Safety is our utmost commitment as we facilitate this return,” stated Northern College Acting Vice President, Academic and Student Success, Glenn MacDougall. “The safety of our students, staff and is paramount during these uncertain times. No aspect of the task ahead has been left to interpretation, chance or circumstance. We’ve made our expectations of safety clear to students arriving from other areas of the province and from abroad and we’ve done everything in our power to adhere to strict protocols needed to keep everyone in our campus communities safe.”
Selected by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to be one of the first colleges in the province to successfully practice safe physical distancing as a pilot institution over the summer, Northern has vigilant in putting many highly effective safety measures in place for those cases where applied training is required in the curriculum.
“We’ve been working closely with the Porcupine and Temiskaming Health Units to ensure each student travelling from abroad not only self-isolates, quarantines, and is tested in place without leaving their residence, but that repeated tests required during and after their 14-day quarantine are being conducted in a timely and efficient manner. All of the strictest health and safety requirements outlined by all levels of government are being met and, many times, exceeded,” stated MacDougall of the preparations, protocols, and precautions being taken.
The College established a cross-campus Pandemic Planning Committee nearly a year ago that immediately began adapting to a rapidly changing Covid-19 reality. With decades of distance learning behind it, along with innovative and high-tech partners like Contact North and NeoNet, both of whom are located at the College’s campuses, Northern graduated most students within anticipated timelines, while others finished their requirements for graduation in the weeks and months that followed. These same outcomes are anticipated for the current academic year, despite the disruptive nature of the pandemic.
As for student and staff activity on campus, MacDougall states that there are additional restrictions in place because of lockdown, and other precautions have already been in place and being practiced for the past several months.
“We will now be delivering on-site classes in those programs requiring it, with only ten students per section, plus one instructor,” stated MacDougall of the January-start semester. “There have been a number of steps taken to minimize the number of students on campus, including students in all programs this year studying their theory-based courses from home. There is no cafeteria food service, no student lounges open and restrictions on the number of students in the library at a time. Students in programs with practical labs come on-site with strict building entry screening of their daily Covid-19 symptom checklist, PPE, social distancing and hand hygiene enforced. For those travelling into the region – even from other parts of the province, there is a buffer period following their arrival before any of their in-person lab classes begin. This is true of all campuses and communities.”
“The youth that are arriving to our campuses are very focussed on successfully completing what has been a challenging academic year in a world filled with upheaval,” stated Dr. Audrey J. Penner, President and CEO at Northern. “They are making a significant investment of time and money to live and study here, trying to create a better future for themselves as they look to support the workforce in what has been for them and most of us, a time of considerable difficulty and uncertainty. We are doing all that we can to support these students, keep them safe while still offering a high quality learning experience and thank the community for working with us to welcome them to their new home here in the North.”
Visitors are not to approach Northern College campuses without a pre-arranged schedule except for deliveries, and most staff are working remotely. Services to students are by appointment only. More about the College’s extensive preparations for, and communications on Covid-19, can be found here: http://www.northernc.on.ca/covid-19-coronavirus/.
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