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Yukon University prepares for fall semester with more online learning

Yukon University is preparing for a very different fall semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with many programs expected to be delivered entirely online and others possibly beginning late.

The COVID-19 pandemic means school is making adjustments to ensure programs happen

Yukon University — known as Yukon College until this month — is making adjustments in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and presented some of its preliminary plans on Tuesday.  (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Yukon University is preparing for a very different fall semester this year, with many programs expected to be delivered entirely online and others possibly beginning late.

The university — known as Yukon College until this month — is making adjustments in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and presented some of its preliminary plans on Tuesday. 

"Our number-one goal is to deliver a high quality educational experience this fall while at the same time being safe for our students," said Janet Welch, the school's vice president of academic and student services.

Many programs — including the university's two degree programs in Indigenous governance and business administration — will be delivered entirely online. Other online programs will include early learning and child care, liberal arts, and social work.

Welch says the shift to online learning means students may need more help to navigate their studies.

"In the fall, we will focus on academic support for students likely as a high priority," she said.

"Online learning is new for many students and we're concerned that they either will shy away from it or feel like they won't be supported. So we're putting lots of systems in place for making sure that the students have success in that environment."

Some programs can't be delivered entirely online, as they include lab, studio or shop components. Those include things such as science and trades programs, and the School of Visual Arts (SOVA) in Dawson City.

Those programs are expected to include a mix of online learning and face-to-face classes. The university says plans for face-to-face classes and practical education are still being worked out, and will be subject to approval of Yukon's chief medical officer.

"So our plans will go to the government in the next couple of weeks, in terms of how the students will flow through the labs. And hopefully they'll get approved or give us recommendations and we'll start in the fall," Welch said.

Delayed starts

Other programs expected to involve primarily face-to-face learning may see a delayed start, subject to approvals from health officials. Those include things such as culinary arts, earth sciences, First Nations studies, education, justice and criminology.

In a statement, university president Karen Barnes said the school is able to be more flexible than many larger institutions. 

"Our smaller class sizes allow us to consider more face-to-face programming than might have been possible if we had been dealing with classes of 150 students or more," she said.

University president Karen Barnes says the school's smaller class sizes allow for more flexibility. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The school says detailed plans for each program will be posted online by the end of June.

Other things still need to be worked out, including access to campus housing and the cafeteria.

"It really depends how many students we end up having on on campus at any given time," Welch said.

"We can have up to 1,500, so we really want to make sure we're conscious of the social distancing requirements."

 

With files from Christine Genier

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