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With return to campus to begin Feb. 7, Laurentian student wonders why ‘hybrid’ option not available for all classes

‘I just had to make the decision to drop a class I've been wanting to take,’ said the student, speaking at Laurentian Senate meeting
Laurentian University campus (winter)
Laurentian University. (File)

The current plan at Laurentian University is to fully resume on-campus learning by Feb. 27, with a staged return to face-to-face instruction slated to begin the week of Feb. 7.

Laurentian had previously been planning a return to campus the week of Jan. 30, but the university announced last weekend that this would be delayed by a week.

Details of Laurentian’s current return-to-campus plan were revealed during the Jan. 18 meeting of Laurentian’s senate.

“The intent is to have the staged return for some face-to-face instruction beginning the week of Feb. 7,” said Laurentian vice-president, research, Tammy Eger. “And with that we will also have a staged return for staff and other employees that support student services.” 

Eger told those attending the senate meeting that Laurentian’s Operation Resumption Committee were to meet Wednesday, Jan. 19, to go over staged plans for staff and deans for instructional learning while communicating with the manager of health and safety. 

“We are committed to do our best to provide information by Friday this week with those first staged activities,” Eger said. “And most likely, we're talking experiential learning.” 

Depending on the program and the class requirements, on-campus learning may resume for some sooner than others. 

For instance, experiential learning like lab courses with smaller cohorts that benefit from face-to-face education will be one of the first staged activities that Laurentian University will look at. 

The university has stated that it is their goal to provide information on the return of on-campus learning with a minimum of two weeks notice. 

For some students at Laurentian University, they were given the option to learn remotely or to engage in a hybrid medium (online and in-person) with certain classes. 

However, the option to choose the method of learning wasn’t given to every single class. Fourth-year Laurentian student and Senate member Katrina Waytowich raised these concerns in the meeting Tuesday evening. 

“So it's been previously stated during this meeting that students want to return to campus,” she said. 

“But there are also many students who don't want to return, therefore, so I don't really understand why we're not being provided the choice for all classes – not just hybrid and fully online classes – to choose whether we are physically in class or attending via Zoom,” Waytowich said. 

“I just had to make the decision to drop a class I've been wanting to take, because I will be expected to show up to class if I want to learn the material and do well and the professor doesn't have slideshows, and does not post on D2L (Laurentian University’s course material portal). So now I'm being forced to pay more to take a fully online course, because there are not enough elective options for me as a fourth-year student to take an online course allowing me to graduate in May.”

Waytowich had to make this tough decision out of precaution for an immunocompromised person living with her. 

President Robert Haché responded by saying, “It is something that is an ongoing conversation between the administration and the faculty association as it should be, with respect to conditions of work. 

“But certainly, I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment. I think it reflects what we are, in fact trying to accomplish to provide as much flexibility for everyone in the community because indeed, that flexibility is the best way to ensure that we minimize population density within rooms, that we that we maximize spacing, that we maximize safety and security, while still trying to meet the learning modalities that best work for our student population.”

The university has already put orders to get different types of masks for their upcoming mandate. 

Eger said that they will be updating mass policy to three-play masks, but the school said that single layer and cloth masks will be sufficient and will be providing masks to the Laurentian community members who do not have access to masks.

“Portable ventilation units have also been ordered by the school to distribute across campus. The school also encourages students and staff to get their third dose for health and safety. 

“And that has always been the primary objective is to be able to provide the best possible educational experience to all of our students,” Haché said. 


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Eden Suh

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Eden Suh in the new media reporter for
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