Assiniboine Community College is preparing for life not returned to normal in time for its fall term.
Courses in September will be delivered both in-person and online with an emphasis on social distancing measures, it was announced in a release sent out by the school on Friday.
Most programs will use a blended model, in which most lessons will be held online except for those that require access to the college’s facilities and equipment.
Classes will be sorted into four different categories: those that can be completed entirely online, blended learning with on-campus attendance for important shops, skills and labs, blended learning with attendance on campus less than 50 per cent of the time and blended learning with attendance on campus more than 50 per cent of the time.
"One of the things I say is when it comes to things like meat cutting, it’s not like we can just ship somebody a side of beef and have them mail us back the steaks," college president Mark Frison told the Sun. "Some of this work has to happen in a live environment so that students learn the skills."
Another important factor when it comes to in-class work is that learning how a job is done with the help of personal protective equipment and preventive health measures will help students transition to real-world work into their industries during the pandemic, Frison said.
He added that the institution’s plans have to take into account what capacities buildings will be allowed to have as well as how major services on campus will be able to function.
He also said they have to take into account health and safety standards, such as what kind of personal protective equipment will be available for students and staff.
The information released this week is just an overview with more detailed information coming soon. "There’s still work to do, but we know folks were anxious to get some sense of what it will look like," Frison said.
Both new and returning students will be contacted by the end of June to tell them how their specific classes and programs will work. No classes scheduled to take place in September have been cancelled.
"There’s still detailed work to go to look at specifics for every program," Frison said. "Students are anxious to know how this will work."
Frison said the only class cancelled in the spring, a welding class, had most of its students defer until the fall term with the rest getting full refunds on their tuition.
When asked if the school could prepare for the full return of in-person classes should the pandemic be resolved by the time the fall term comes around, Frison said their planning is trying to take into account the situation both escalating and de-escalating, but it’s impossible to make exact predictions.
"It would be a fool’s errand to try and predict how the next eight months play out with certainty," he said.
With regards to enrolment for the next academic year, Frison said the college is actually ahead of where they were at this point last year when it comes to tuition deposits made. However, he conceded that the post-secondary sector has seen more and more students willing to walk away from deposits over the last decade, which causes some uncertainty.
At this point, the postponed spring graduations ceremonies are still planned to take place on the last week of October.
Brandon University spokesman Grant Hamilton said in an email the university has no updates on its plans for the fall at this point.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark