Eduvation Blog

Shades of Grey for Fall Reopening

Good morning!

After more than a month, I knew it would be quite a task to sum up the hundreds of CdnPSE announcements about Fall 2021 – so you’re going to have to bear with me! (You can also find my complete coverage, chronologically since Feb 24, in the Insider Recap “Plans for Fall 2021.”)

Covering still-evolving news is of course a Sisyphean task, but I have some updates and corrections from yesterday’s issue “Opening Up the West,” from BC and Alberta. Then, we can move across the prairies to Saskatchewan and Manitoba.



Postscripts: BC

As I outlined yesterday, BCpse is pretty consistent in following the lead of PHO Bonnie Henry, and the collective Return to Campus Guidelines provide quite a bit of consistency between institutions. Here are a few things that really should have made it into yesterday’s issue, though…


“Back to Normalcy”

Matt Milovick, VP Admin at Thompson Rivers U and chair of the provincial RTC Guidelines committee, told CBC yesterday that campuses this September “could look a lot like they did in fall 2019” and that “we are back to pre-pandemic normalcy.”  CBC


BCIT announced Tuesday that it is entering a Step 3 “transition” phase that includes “recommended” masks, “careful” social contact, increased gathering sizes and “gradual easing” of COVID19 restrictions. “BCIT has already successfully and safely brought 40% of its programs back on campus for in-person learning and teaching. We are confident that our Institute has the resources, knowledge, and expertise to create a safe environment in welcoming more of our community members back on campus this fall.”  BCIT Commons


RRU Video Link

OK, mea culpa. Somehow, I lost track of the video message from Royal Roads U president Philip Steenkamp, but eagle-eyed readers there have set me straight: the video is in fact still available here on YouTube. Steenkamp expresses hope for a full return to campus this Fall, and reminds those who might be reluctant to return that “there’s a lot we’ve missed out on, by operating mostly in a virtual environment.” He also explains that better “human connections” and “separation of work and home life” will help build mental wellness, and foster “culture, cohesion and common purpose.” (I must have been inadvertently added an incorrect URL to my notes.)  YouTube


Vancouver Island U issued an update Monday in response to BC’s RTC Guidelines (which hadn’t yet percolated to the FAQs page). VIU’s reopening plan has 4 steps which parallel the provincial plan. Effective this week, as BC enters Step 3, masks indoors are “highly recommended, rather than mandatory,” aside from exceptions like the Hairdressing Salon and Dental Clinic. Daily self-assessment is crucial, but use of the VIU Safety App function is no longer required.  VIU



Postscripts: Alberta

I mentioned yesterday that ABpse seems to be a bit more cautious than their local or provincial governments when it comes to reopening plans, and here are 2 more recent examples…


Concordia U of Edmonton president Tim Loreman shared yesterday that CUE is planning to be “almost entirely back on campus and face-to-face in September.” CUE will have “very few” online course offerings, but plans to start offering some courses via flexible (blended) delivery. A detailed plan should be available later this month, but some PHO directives (such as masking and distancing) will remain in place.  CUE


“The partial adoption of a blended delivery model could be the basis of positive change, one that not only enhances flexibility of instruction but also improves teaching and learning at CUE.” Tim Loreman, President & Vice-Chancellor, Concordia U of Edmonton



uLethbridge announced Monday that it is “committed to a full reopening of its Lethbridge and Calgary campuses for the Fall 2021 semester, to support in-person learning, research, and services.” uLeth is going “beyond” directives of city and provincial authorities, keeping masks mandatory “in locations that demand multiple-person occupancies such as classrooms, labs, meeting rooms, and relevant studio space.” Elsewhere, masks and social distancing will be “strongly encouraged” but not required.  Lethbridge News Now


“We understand this may go beyond the City of Lethbridge’s and Government of Alberta’s directives, but we are determined to maintain the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.” uLethbridge statement




Fall in Saskatchewan

Back on May 10 and Jun 1, I summarized some early SKpse announcements that emphasized an even more cautious approach than ABpse, treating the Fall 2021 term as a “transitional” one before a return to more normalcy in Jan 2022. If I had to wager, I’d still say this is the safer bet than getting back to normal in cold and flu season this Fall, and certainly it has meant very little backpedalling has been required so far…


Parkland & Cumberland Colleges announced in early May plans for a safe return to F2F learning for Fall. “While our plan is to get back to on-campus instruction, blended learning will continue to be a key part of our institutions, providing flexibility and fostering innovation as we serve learners across our region.”  Education News Canada


uRegina said in early May that it was planning for a “staged reopening” of campus this fall, welcoming back as many people as is safe “with increased options for in-person teaching and learning.” The Fall semester “will be as a transitional one” with “near-normal operations” in Winter 2022. Last Friday, UR’s new president, Jeff Keshen, affirmed that UR will “transition to more in-person classes and extra-curricular activities in the Fall (with the aim of returning to full in-person operations by the Winter semester).” He regrets that “so much of what defines the university experience was on hold over the past year,” and encourages students to “get involved on campus,” in community volunteerism, and international exchange (when possible).  uRegina


uSaskatchewan first indicated in early March that the Fall 2021 term would be a transitional one, reiterated in early May by president Peter Stoicheff. “We will likely not complete our full transition out of pandemic operations until at least January 2022.” In mid-May, uSask was “anticipating that most offerings will be in person and that most students will have in-person activity” this Fall, “but it will not be all.” UofS is still referring to the Fall term as “transitional,” and some classes and services will be offered remotely. Residences and food services are expected to open up, but masks will still be required and large gatherings avoided. Athletics will continue, but with less high-risk activity and fewer large events. “It’s going to feel much more normal than it has for the past year,” but campus life won’t return to “close to normal” until January.  Saskatoon Star-Phoenix  |  CBC


Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced early in May that it would be “safely reopening campus to more students and employees” this Fall. Programs listed as on-campus “will be primarily but not necessarily fully on campus.” Later in the month, SKPoly clarified plans to increase the number of students on campus this Fall, while continuing with hybrid delivery of programs. Currently ~35% of students are on campus at any one time, and come Fall “we are expecting… closer to 50-55%.” Fall will see a gradual transition towards full reopening of programs and services, likely with some controls over density and distancing.  Global



Fall in Manitoba

In general, Manitoba colleges and universities are also taking a cautious, blended approach to the Fall term. (Brandon U is talking “shades of grey.”) Here are some of the latest announcements…


Assiniboine CC says it will be taking a blended approach to the Fall term.  CBC


Brandon U announced yesterday that it is “cautiously moving to the mid-range Phase Grey” in its reopening plan – starting in a “dark grey” mode, and moving to “light grey” this Fall as the PHO permits. President David Docherty told the General Faculty Council on Monday that “this is a time of transition as we get ready for a partial return to in-person instruction this fall.” BU says it will be taking a blended approach to the Fall term, allowing in-person classes of up to 25 students. “Even though we have small classes and we pride ourselves on that, some of our first-year classes are 100 or more. We couldn’t comfortably do that social distancing.” Music programs, for instance, will likely be entirely F2F.  Brandon U  |  CBC  |  CTV


“Phase Grey will start in a ‘dark grey’ mode [immediately]… [This Fall] the University [may be] able to move into a ‘light grey’ mode, or even into Phase Gold.” Brandon U announcement



uManitoba is moving forward with a “phased reopening” for the Fall, with a blended approach to delivery and in-person classes of 2-20 students, and labs of 25 or fewer.  CBC  |  CTV


UC of the North says 43% of its courses will be offered F2F this Fall (105 courses out of 243), with priority given to those that require hands-on instruction or are best delivered in person (such as Nursing and Carpentry). In all, 505 students will experience some level of F2F instruction.  CBC  |  CTV


Providence UC has been planning since March to offer a “near-normal” academic experience this Fall, with a “full return to campus living and learning in September.” (In late October, Providence was forced to pivot from blended delivery to fully online.) “We expect that there will be more opportunities for recreational and social gatherings as Manitoba Public Health continues to loosen its restrictions. We’re already planning a robust Welcome Week with lots of fun, outdoor activities including bonfires, pizza parties, Prov Cup games, varsity soccer games, an ice cream social and live concert.”  Prov


Red River College is planning a blended Fall term, “a mix of online and in-person learning,” but services and supports will remain “flexible and responsive,” to be expanded should health restrictions ease further. RRC is offering employees up to 3 hours paid leave to get vaccinated, and an additional 3 hours to get a dependent vaccinated.  RRC


U Saint-Boniface says 35% of its students will be back on campus this Fall, the maximum it could accommodate on campus if social distancing is still required.  CBC


uWinnipeg says 42% of its courses will be offered F2F this Fall, with priority given to those that require hands-on instruction or are best delivered in person. UW hopes to offer the majority of courses in Winter 2022 as F2F classes.  CBC  |  CTV



As we move eastward to Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada there remain far more announcements than I can cover in a single issue tomorrow… so this may spill over into next week. Sorry that my own spring conference schedule was so hectic I didn’t get to this even sooner!




And since we’re talking about the return to campus in Alberta…


Favourite Campus Spots

SAIT released a peppy 3-min campus tour video last week, in which 3 energetic and socially distanced tour guides share some of their “favourite places on campus.” The tour starts with the 1,200-pound “Catalyst” sculpture (wish I had one), proceeds to the Green Building Technologies lab (including a solar-powered EV car port and some 60,000 honey bees), campus dining options, national historic site Heritage Hall, some quiet study spaces, and more. As campus tour videos go, this one is much more engaging and fast-paced than most!  YouTube


As always, thanks for reading! 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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