It wasn't how Ashley Corsiatto imagined she'd start her day on Friday.
The 28-year-old dental hygiene student from Calgary, Alta. expected to go to the Canadian Institute of Dental Hygiene (CIDH) on King Street East as usual. On Thursday afternoon, she wrote a test. She was five weeks away from her final semester.
Around 6:30 p.m., she got an email. Due to financial difficulties, the school was closing. She and about 50 fellow students from across Canada had nowhere to go.
“I cried a little,” Corsiatto said.
“We've put a year of our blood, sweat and tears into this. To think it might be all for naught was absolute shock and disbelief.”
About 10 students gathered in front of the accredited school on Friday morning looking for answers on the surprise closure. The CIDH website is still active and its phone system said Friday morning that it was open for business.
But when students arrived Friday morning, the locks had been changed. The only activity inside was a BDO Canada trustee who let the students in to get their belongings.
The students will be absorbed by the Ontario Dental Education Institute (ODEI) in Ancaster. Larissa Voytek, program director at the ODEI, says the school will work with the province to make sure there's room to accommodate them.
The closure of a dental hygiene institute is not a rare occurrence, Voytek said.
Money is often the problem. Some non-accredited schools close when they can't get accreditation, she said.
The Ancaster school absorbed students when the Canadian College of Dental Health in Burlington closed about two years ago. It has also absorbed students when schools closed in London and Kitchener.
“We've been through this before,” she said. “We've seen how stressful it is for these students. They've put in a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of commitment.”
CIDH representatives could not be reached this morning. But CBC Hamilton visited the school a week ago for its Summer Smile Clinic, which provided a free teeth-cleaning clinic often used by low-income Hamiltonians.
The institute also provided student-performed hygiene services to patients for $20 per year.
Patients “feel they can come and help (the students), and yet the fee is low,” faculty member Margaret Callon said at the time.
The Ancaster school also provides a $20-per-year dental hygiene service, Voytek said.