North

Aurora College opens on-campus housing to students despite move to online classes

Housing on Aurora College campuses across the N.W.T. will be open for students going to back to school. 

Housing is available at campuses in Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Inuvik

Aurora College in Fort Smith, N.W.T., pictured in September 2019. Housing on Aurora College campuses across the N.W.T. will be open for students in the 2020-21 school year. (Mario Di Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Housing on Aurora College campuses across the N.W.T. will be open for students going back to school.

In a statement, the college says housing is available at their campuses in Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Inuvik for anyone that enrolls in online classes. The decision to leave campuses open, the statement continues, is for students who depend on a "multi-year" program through the college to meet their housing needs. 

"While our fall semester will be mainly online, Aurora College student housing provides a place to stay where students can focus on their studies," the statement reads. 

Residence, for some students, could also mean better access to "technological support" that the college says will set students up with "the tools to be successful" despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The college believes there will still be students from across the N.W.T. that will come to learn on their campuses. As of last week, the college did not have any enrolment information to share with CBC, including how many students will be using their residences. 

The college says it will follow the physical distancing rules set out by the chief public health officer, but did not offer any details on what that will look like for students living in residence. 

Single students living in any of the three residences get access to a room with basic furniture and bedding. They also share a student lounge, recreation room, laundry room and kitchens. 

Aurora College plan 'lacks detail' 

Mike Couvrette, a Fort Smith town councillor, told the town's education committee earlier this month that the college's shift to online learning during the pandemic could result in a loss of students coming to Fort Smith for the school year, who contribute to the local economy. 

The college has since said there will be a mixture of online and in-person classes but does not specify which programs this will apply to — something Couvrette said is a "lack of detail" in the college's plan.

"There are still concerns there, like the lack of detail, like what programs are going to be face-to-face … or how many students are being impacted by the decisions [the Department of] Education is making," Couvrette said. 

CBC contacted the territory's Department of Education for comment, but did not receive a reply. 

In September, Couvrette will present a motion to town council for a detailed study into how Aurora College contributes to the town's broader economy. The study, Couvrette said, could strengthen the town's case to keep the college's main campus in Fort Smith while it transitions into a polytechnic university.

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