Monday, April 19, 2021 | Category: Eduvation Insider
Good morning, and happy Rice Ball Day, Garlic Day, and/or Amaretto Day!
Today we’ll also find out what the first federal budget in 2 years might include for CdnPSE. Another summer of CESB for unemployed students? Funding to reskill displaced workers? More research or infrastructure funding? Emergency support for minority language institutions like Laurentian? (More about Laurentian tomorrow.) Without the support of opposition MPs, the budget vote could even topple the Liberal government and trigger a spring election. (Please no.)
And, you know: another weekend, another residence outbreak. Plus I catch you up on 11 more CdnPSE announcements about Fall 2021 – which are starting to hint at a “transitional” semester, before a full return in January.
But first, a quick update…
It’s only been 3 days since Friday morning’s round-up, but here’s what you should know since then…
This weekend, the world surpassed 3M COVID19 deaths, and France became the 8th country to surpass 100,000 deaths. (The true death toll is likely far higher than reported in most jurisdictions.) A second Canadian case of vaccine-induced blood clots was identified in Alberta on Saturday. (Just what we need to induce more vaccine hesitancy.)
On Friday it seemed pretty clear Ontario premier Doug Ford was set to announce tighter public health restrictions, to try to rein in an exponential third wave which modelers said could hit 30,000 new cases per day by May. On Friday, Ford announced adjustments to occupancy limits in big box stores, an extension of the state of emergency by 2 additional weeks, checkpoints at interprovincial borders, and sweeping police powers to stop and challenge anyone on the streets. He also closed basketball courts, playgrounds and golf courses, and banned outdoor gatherings of any kind.
Getting the Science Upside-Down
At least a dozen police chiefs objected to the new orders and refused to start “carding” citizens. Health experts slammed the restrictions on outdoor activity as getting the science “absolutely upside-down.” The big drivers of infection in Ontario are industrial workplaces, warehouses, postal plants, churches and other indoor settings – the outdoors are one of the few safe places for people to interact. Stronger ventilation requirements, increased COVID19 testing and paid sick leave for essential workers were what was required. Peter Jüni, the director of Ontario’s COVID19 scientific advisory table, told CBC he was so frustrated by the government’s actions that he considered stepping down this weekend.
Ford Flip-Flops (Again)
As one parent put it, “the cognitive dissonance between the minister of education insisting schools are safe and then shutting playgrounds down boggles the mind!” Within a day, on Saturday, Ontario premier Doug Ford retracted his closure of playgrounds, and rescinded the police powers to interrogate anyone found outside their home. And on Sunday, Ontario announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be available to anyone age 40+at pharmacy and primary care settings across the province.
On Friday, PM Justin Trudeau announced that Canada has secured an additional 8M doses of the Pfizervaccine, half of it in May. (That is reassuring, considering that Moderna has warned up to 2M doses of their vaccine may be delayed until Q3.) Manitoba’s Providence Therapeutics says preliminary results from their phase I vaccine trials show effectiveness comparable to Pfizer and Moderna (although their vaccine is unlikely to get approval before 2022). Manitoba plans to ink a contract this week to buy 2M doses.
As the Spring weather turns beautiful and pandemic fatigue wears on, extroverts, gym rats and sun-worshippers are proving incorrigible…
“Raucous” Vancouver beach parties and crowded parks throughout the weekend have city police “rethinking” their softer approach to enforcing health restrictions, although they also have “better things to do with their time.” Vancouver Sun
Quebec City’s Mega Fitness Gym has been linked to more than 500 cases of COVID19, making it home to one of the largest superspreader events in Canada, and largely responsible for a spike in cases across the entire city. 224 people were infected with the UK (B.1.1.7) variant at the gym, and another 356 related cases involved outbreaks at 49 other workplaces. A 40-year-old who trained at the gym has died. The gym, which was in violation of at least 3 PHO orders, was shut down Mar 31. Its owner, Dan Marino, has repeatedly defied health regulations, opposed gym closures, and questioned the effectiveness of masks. CBC
“Governments thought they could open up a bit, which is very much what people wanted too, but it’s not working. Over the next 2 to 3 months we need to be resigned to the fact that life is not coming back to normal just yet and we need to be really careful.” – Raymond Tellier, associate medical prof, McGill U
Some 500 uGeorgia students attended a “massive” house party last Thursday night that literally “brought the house down” as the first floor collapsed into a crawlspace. At least 25 were injured, ranging from cuts and bruises to a broken arm. Firefighters reported difficulty responding due to “massive amounts of vehicles and people blocking the street.” The property may end up being condemned. US News
Since Friday, there have been 20 more cases of COVID19 reported by CdnPSEs. (See my master spreadsheet for a running tally of 2,450+ cases in CdnPSE since Sept 2020.)
Mohawk College reported 2 more unrelated student cases at the Stoney Creek campus on Friday. Mohawk
Mohawk College also experienced a “suspicious fire” Friday night which caused minor smoke damage to its COVID19 testing facility and caused appointments to be rescheduled. Hamilton Spectator
Trent U reported a new outbreak Friday at its Champlain College residence, and 12 more cases in student residence last week (I reported 1 of them last Thursday). The hall experienced a previous outbreak Mar 4. Global
Western U is now up to 8 outbreaks in 8 residence halls, with the declaration of an outbreak of 6 new cases in London Hall, announced Saturday. This is Western’s 14th outbreak of the 3rd wave, and the 9th active one (if you count King’s UC, which I am tracking separately). Western Gazette
Since my last summary Apr 7, another 10 CdnPSEs have made announcements about plans for the Fall 2021 term, and the province of New Brunswick has announced its expectations. (I am rounding up all of them on a single page here.)
Brock U provost Lynn Wells announced Apr 7 that, “with the promise of near-universal immunization over the next few months… we plan to be ready to return to campus in the Fall.” However, she emphasizes that “academic planning is rightly within the purview of academic departments and Faculties,” and that “the subject matter experts are best positioned to rule on matters of scheduling and mode of delivery.” Brock News
Dalhousie U president Deep Saini announced last week that “we have reason to be hopeful” since NS vaccine timelines have partial vaccination available for everyone 16+ by the end of June, and full vaccination by the end of September. “Our goal is to safely open our campuses to students, faculty and staff this fall.” “Almost all” classes will be held in person, “including our larger classes.” Residences and dining halls will be open “at much greater capacity.” A phased return to campus for faculty and staff will begin in June. Dal
“As we begin to bring our incredible Dal community back together again, I hope we don’t just pick up where we left off — but that we take what we’ve learned about ourselves and each other this year and build an even stronger Dal community for the future.” – Deep Saini, president, Dalhousie U
Durham College plans to offer in-person experiences as much as possible this Fall, with courses offered as in-person, remote, or hybrid. This 3-min video includes examples of what online and blended courses might be like in robotics, etc. YouTube
Fleming College announced last week that they are “working on plans for flexible learning options that will include online and face-to-face options for selected programs” this fall. More detailed plans will follow by Jun 1. Fleming
U King’s College announced last week that they plan to resume in-person classes this September, including physical distancing and modified classroom capacities, and some meetings online. “The good news is that teaching and learning, and our communal life in general, will once again be largely in person this fall.” King’s will still offer an online option for some classes. UKC
Memorial U announced Friday that NL’s vaccine rollout plan anticipates that all eligible members of the community will have access to a first dose by July. MUN anticipates a “full return” of students in Sept, and therefore advises employees to plan for “a return to working on campus in between June and August.” MUN Gazette
“At this point we are in a race between COVID19 (and variants) and the vaccine, and we are nearing the end. The only way to return to some level of normalcy is through vaccinations… However, it is important to recognize that we will most likely be living with COVID and public health restrictions until 2022.” – Greg McDougall, chief risk officer, Memorial U
Mount Royal U president Tim Rahilly reassured the community back on Apr 9 that, despite recent increases in the pandemic and setbacks in AB’s reopening, MRU “must continue to plan as if we are returning to campus in the fall, but be ready to adapt to whatever situation and restrictions are in place at that time.” YouTube
uRegina is planning a “transitional semester” this Fall, with “thousands” of students returning to F2F classes, but remote learning continuing to play a large role. Computer labs, library and sports facilities will reopen, and food services resume. Much will hinge on student demand, and currently remote learning spaces are filling faster than in-person ones, even for Kinesiology. “A full return” is expected for January 2022. Regina Leader-Post
“I like the notion of a transition because it allows us to reacquaint ourselves with other people in a gathering. It’ll be a psychological shift to gather people back together again.” – David Gregory, provost, uRegina
Trent U president Leo Groarke says Trent is “planning for a full return to in-person learning” this Fall, and is “confident this fall will look much more ‘normal’ than the past year.” Many courses in some programs will continue to be available online. Trent
Wilfrid Laurier U president Deb MacLatchy announced on Apr 9 that “we are approaching the fall with cautious optimism” with an “overall objective… to increase our on-campus presence in support of in-person teaching, learning, research and students experience.” WLU will be “transitioning to more in-person activity” this fall, with a goal “to return to regular operations with minimal restrictions by winter term in 2022.” WLU will begin issuing weekly “what you need to know for fall” updates starting in May. WLU
Expectations for Fall in NB
On Apr 7, New Brunswick’s CMOH Jennifer Russell announced that she is “optimistic” that PSE “will be able to offer on-campus instruction safely and successfully during the 2021-22 academic year,” since all adults in the province should have access to a first dose of vaccine by early summer. PSE Minister Trevor Holder added that colleges and universities are independent of government and will make their own decisions on when to resume in-person learning. CBC
UNB told students they “can anticipate that the majority of classes offered in Fall 2021 will have an in-person component,” and it recommends they prepare to be on campus in September. The NB Student Alliance is urging institutions to be flexible, in order to accommodate students who may not be able or willing to fully return to campus all at once. Global
UK Plans Return in Mid-May
Vaccination in the UK has apparently gone so well that the Dept for Education expects the remaining half of PSE students to return to F2F classes on campus when health restrictions are eased, potentially as early as May 17. UUK is disappointed in the delay, having hoped for a full return to campus last week. Other groups object to this “cavalier disregard for details,” explaining that many students will have already finished their exams by mid-May, so the timing “makes absolutely no sense.” One union wants the return to campus pushed back to the next academic year, while the National Union of Students wants clarity about plans for the summer term. The Independent
If, like me, you miss Bill Nye the Science Guy, here’s the next best thing from VIU…
Extreme Science Challenge
Last week, Vancouver Island U released 10 video science demonstrations, ranging in length from 4-9 min, featuring physics prof Raymond Penner. The experiments include lying on a bed of nails sandwich, using standing waves to shape fire, slicing a pineapple with giant dominoes, pulling out the tablecloth beneath a floor-to-ceiling tower of glassware, a ping-pong cannon, and so much more! The demonstrations are visually impressive, funny, and anxiety-provoking. The “challenge” is to collect words and letters scattered through the 10 videos to construct a famous quote. YouTube
As always, thanks for reading! I hope your week gets off to a great start. Please do drop me a line if you spot something interesting, thought-provoking or cool happening on your campus, or elsewhere in the world!
Stay safe and be well,
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