Eduvation Blog

Campuses Sprout like Spring Crocus

Good morning, and TGIF!

Today, we’ve got new COVID19 outbreaks in residence at Brock and Waterloo, massive infection surges in India and Brazil, while the US and Israel surpass expectations vaccinating their people.

More CdnPSEs are announcing plans for a return to campus this Fall, although 2 universities in Australia and New Jersey have now announced that vaccinations will be mandatory for students who want to attend in person. (With Carnival Cruise Lines following suit, how long before we see some CdnPSE announcements too?)

Right now, what CdnPSE seems to be announcing are new campuses, from northwestern BC and downtown Vancouver to Brampton and locations abroad! Since the vernal equinox last weekend, it’s as though our year-long pandemic winter has melted away, and enthusiastic optimism for a return to campus has led to bricks and mortar sprouting like spring crocuses! (Croci?)



Pandemic Précis

Some vaccine news: good, bad, and enlightening…


Brazil continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic right now, surpassing 100,000 new cases yesterday alone, and 300,000 total deaths from COVID19.  CTV


Joe Biden just doubled his vaccination goal, from 100M to 200M Americans immunized in his first 100 days as president. (His original goal was surpassed before day 60.) The US is currently averaging 2.5M doses a day.  CBC


Israel has now administered 2 doses of COVID19 vaccine to more than half of its population, leading to an -86% drop in daily infections.  Reuters


India registered 53,476 new COVID19 cases yesterday, a 5-month high, following a “near-full reopening of the economy.” Regional lockdowns are being reimposed.  Reuters


90M doses of AZ vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, expected at the COVAX program this month and next, will be delayed because of “increased demand for COVID19 vaccines in India.”  CITYnews


Rethinking Efficacy

I think we all understand now that vaccine efficacy rates are a measurement of how well they prevent symptomatic infection (or in some trials, when actual PCR tests are conducted, asymptomatic infection too). The gap between Pfizer at 95% and AZ at 67% seems significant, although all the news coverage has emphasized that they’re both 100% effective at preventing death or hospitalization. But some key differences between the clinical trials have not been given the same attention: some were conducted in autumn 2020 (between pandemic waves) while others were tested at the peak of the pandemic in Dec-Jan (like J&J for example). It’s also quite true that trials conducted in South Africa and Brazil, especially as the B.1.351 and P.2 variants were emerging, faced a much steeper uphill climb than those tested against the original strain, or even the UK variant. So we really don’t give enough credit to J&J and AZ’s vaccines, as Vox explains in this 7-min video.  YouTube


Thanks to reader Dawn Giesbrecht for getting me to take a second look at it. It reinforces my point from Wednesday – the abysmal PR that AZ is getting says nothing about the quality of the vaccine itself!



COVID on Campus

Since yesterday, there have been 17 more cases of COVID19 reported by CdnPSEs – where else? In Ontario! (See my master spreadsheet for a running tally of ~1900 cases in CdnPSE since Sept 2020.)


Brock U has clarified that the “number of cases” I noted yesterday is actually 10, all linked to students living in “self-contained residence units.” (That almost doubles the cases I have noted at Brock since Sept.) Brock has moved “additional” residence students into self-isolation in other on-campus residences, and elevated its own response level from Stage 2 (Control) to Stage 1 (Lockdown). The “few” classes that were being offered on campus will move online until Apr 5, and common areas and athletic facilities will be temporarily closed.  Brock


McMaster U reported 2 more cases among staff members on campus yesterday.  Mac


uWaterloo reported yesterday 5 new cases of COVID19, including an outbreak of 3 cases in uWaterloo Place residence, and 2 others who have visited campus. “We are extremely disappointed that the cause of this outbreak appears to be a result of students ignoring our protocols for social safety.”  UW



CdnPSE Updates

As PHO orders change, CdnPSEs are adjusting the alert levels on their campuses…


Memorial U will adjust its COVID19 alert scale to “low” effective Monday, as the public health situation in Newfoundland and Labrador improves.  MUN


SaskPolytech announced yesterday it is temporarily suspending in-person learning at its Moose Jaw campus, Mar 29 – Apr 5, because some employees and students there commute from Regina, and the PHO is discouraging travel in or out of Regina unless absolutely necessary.  SP



Still More Fall Plans

Higher ed has been continuing to make optimistic announcements about their plans for the Fall 2021 term. (Check out all of them on a single page here.) Some of the latest in Alberta and Ontario include…


Concordia U of Edmonton is planning “a significant return to campus this fall” and “a near full return to in-person learning experiences.” However, CUE “may also be in a position to continue to offer some virtual programming and services this fall.”  CUE


Keyano College “aims” to offer in-person instruction in September, since “the path to every adult Albertan receiving their first dose of COVID19 vaccine by the end of June is likely.” (Alberta’s minister of advanced ed is encouraging institutions to prepare for a “full return to in-person instruction” this fall.) Keyano will continue to offer virtual online options for students.  Education News Canada


Ontario Tech clarified yesterday that it is planning the majority of courses on-campus for Fall term, including small and medium-sized classes, tutorials, labs and experiential learning activities. “Larger lectures will likely still have to be held online… We expect to provide options for remote and online learning where possible.”  OnTech


uWindsor announced this week that it has formed an “Action Group on Fall Return,” advisory and implementation teams, “to plan toward a goal of maximizing opportunities for students to have on-campus experiences in the fall.”  uWindsor Daily News



Mandatory Shots?

Since many CdnPSEs are basing their optimistic reopening plans for Fall on government projections for vaccine rollouts this summer, there is an implicit sense in which widespread vaccination is what will make the return to campus possible. Still, I observed months ago that campus leaders might have to make some politically unpopular decisions like requiring staff and students to be vaccinated before allowing them back on campus…


Trinity College, a residential college affiliated with uMelbourne, was perhaps the first PSE in the world to announce at the end of February that all 380 students living in residence would be required to be vaccinated against COVID19. (Staff were to be exempt from the requirement.)  The Age


Rutgers U (NJ) announced yesterday that all 71,000 students will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID19 before they can return to campus this fall (although they may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons.) Faculty and staff are “strongly urged” to get vaccinated too. Rutgers is one of the largest public universities in the US, and may be the first to announce such a requirement – even though campus leaders were emphasizing “human liberties” in January and indicated that the vaccine would not be mandatory. It may not be legal for US employers to mandate inoculations when the vaccines are still only approved for emergency use: FDA guidance insists they must be voluntary.  Rutgers Today  |  New York Times |  Politico


“Adding COVID19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students.”Jonathan Holloway, President, Rutgers U



It won’t just be college campuses considering a vaccine requirement, though…


Carnival Cruise Lines announced yesterday that passengers on some Princess Cruise and P&O Cruise ships will need proof of COVID19 vaccination for select departures from June through September. “All guests of all ages” must have received their second vaccine dose at least 7 days prior to boarding.  Newsweek


(Of course, the analogy between campus housing and cruise liners has been made many times before!)  To my knowledge, no CdnPSE has announced a mandatory vaccine policy yet – but please do let me know if you know of one!



New CdnPSEs Bloom

If it’s a sure sign of spring when the crocuses begin to bloom, is it a sign that the winter of our pandemic discontent is waning when new CdnPSE campuses are announced?


Canadian College of Technology and Business announced its official launch in Vancouver this month. CCTB, part of Global University Systems, will offer diplomas including marketing, IT, data analysis and cybersecurity. Programs will commence in May with blended or distance delivery, and on-campus instruction will start in September in downtown Vancouver.   CCTB


Contact North BC, a collaboration between Coast Mountain College and Indigenous communities in NW BC, is opening 20 learning centres over the next year to provide up to 2,000 students in remote communities with quality technology and local staff to support access to programs at all 25 BC public PSEs.  Nation Talk


Ryerson’s new medical school in Brampton received unspecified financial support from the province in Ontario’s budget this week. “Ryerson is excited with today’s announcement in the Ontario budget that commits to the development of a new institute of medical education in Brampton and expansion of Brampton’s local health-care system.” Community consultations will begin this spring. (Strangely, this funding comes less than 2 years after the Ford government cancelled $90M funding for a Ryerson satellite campus in Brampton.)  Ryersonian


CultureWorks, the digital English language pathway provider headquartered in Canada, announced this week significant investment funding by OKR Financial to allow it to build out its infrastructure and accelerate growth into new markets. For 23 years it has graduated students in to colleges and universities across North America, and it is adding 4 locations abroad for recruitment and program delivery in 2021.  CultureWorks




Speaking of Rutgers, they actually caught my attention with a new video on Tuesday, before the vaccine announcement above…



Discover Rutgers – New Brunswick

Rutgers U is a large public university based in the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey. This 1-min spot features some lovely cinematography, dynamic cuts and peppy music, along with testimonials from students and faculty. There are plenty of examples of hands-on learning, from labs, observatories and greenhouses to arctic exploration, fishing and football. “You really can’t make a small school feel big, but you can make a big school feel small.” Very nice! (Not a facemask in sight.)  YouTube



Phew!  I survived preparing and delivering 10 hours of virtual workshops in the past week, and somehow STILL managed to put out 5 issues of this newsletter. I’m going to rest up this weekend, and hope to go a bit deeper into some bigger topics over the weeks to come.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great weekend, whether you’re celebrating Passover, Holi, Earth Hour, or any combination thereof!  

Stay safe and be well,


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