CapU prepares for ‘new norm’ in fall semester

The “frosh” experience just won’t be the same at Capilano University this fall.

The school has announced it will be limiting the amount of time students spend on campus to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

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It follows similar decisions made by other B.C. post-secondary institutions to gradually reintroduce in-person classes while still relying heavily on remote learning.

“It will be an unusual back-to-school. But I think the language that we're all using is really ‘the new norm,’ at least for now,” said Laureen Styles, vice-president academic and provost. “While this will be a different year, there’s a very strong focus on how to best engage with our students in meaningful ways.”

Classes that require a physical presence for things like science labs or arts facilities will be given priority access to the campus.

“Where possible, we will maximize our in-person activities in a safe way,” Styles said.

And faculty have been informed they must have a back-up plan ready to go if classes must go fully online again, as they did in the spring semester.

When COVID-19 took hold in March, the university transitioned to remote learning. All things considered, the spring semester ended quite well, Styles said.

“I think that students and faculty were very resilient. That very quick pivot, I think, was very, very challenging and I am amazed at the positive comments actually, that I've heard from students and from faculty. While difficult, I think that it was something that we all did together,” she said.

It remains to be seen what the 2020 enrolment numbers will look like. Tuition deposits are due at the end of May. Course registrations happen in July.

“That will give us some indication of where students are tracking their thinking. And, really, I think we won't have a really good solid indication until tuition is actually due,” Styles said. “We, like many post-secondaries, are anticipating that we may see a decline in enrolment in the fall.”

Lower enrolment would mean a strain on the university’s finances, so Styles said the school is actively recruiting and trying to free up more grant money so students who lost their jobs thanks to COVID-19 won’t face financial barriers to continuing their studies.

Registration for summer classes are up over 2019’s numbers, Styles noted.

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