Acadia University to return to full in-person learning in the fall
Other Nova Scotia universities working on return-to-classroom plans
Acadia University is the first post-secondary institution in Nova Scotia that's largely relied on online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic to announce a full return to in-person classes this fall.
"While the pandemic is not over, we are confident that we can plan for an in-person model for the fall, knowing that we have the ability and experience to pivot back to more online delivery should developments not occur as currently predicted," school president Peter Ricketts said in a news release Tuesday.
In the release, the school said it will remain committed to following protocols to keep students and staff safe during COVID-19.
"More detailed information will follow, but at this time, faculty, students, and staff are asked to commence planning to return to a new version of normal operations that will feature on-campus learning," it said.
"All students should plan to be on location in the fall, either in residence or nearby off-campus accommodations. While some online learning will be incorporated into our plans, the majority of learning will be in person."
The school said it has seen an "incredible interest" in prospective students, and there has been a 21 per cent increase in scholarship applications and a 47 per cent increase in program deposits compared to this time last year.
While Acadia University was the first school to announce a full return to in-person learning, it may not be the last.
In a January 2021 memo, Dalhousie University said it was "optimistic Dalhousie will be able to offer an expansion of on-campus learning this fall, followed by a winter term that looks more like our normal academic experience."
On its website, the Nova Scotia Community College also said it was optimistic about having more in-person learning this fall, and said it would release its plan in May.
In a statement, Saint Mary's University spokesperson Cale Loney said the school is "preparing for undergraduate courses with blended delivery depending on the class size and scheduling." It said it will provide as many in-person learning opportunities for first- and second-year courses as possible, and graduate courses will feature in-person learning.
"The university will continue to have online options for students who are unable to attend in-person due to distance or personal circumstances," the statement said.
NSCAD said it plans for a "multi-modal" return to class in the fall that will include "carefully expanded studio access for students."
Mount Saint Vincent University will "offer a significant increase in on-campus classes and student services, while continuing to provide online learning opportunities for those who need or want to continue to study remotely."
"Online learning opportunities aren't new at MSVU; many of our courses and some entire programs were available online before the pandemic started," said spokesperson Gillian Batten in an email.
St. Francis Xavier University, meanwhile, managed to hold most of its classes in 2020 in person, and the school has "every intention of returning to full capacity as pandemic conditions improve and protocols outlined by Public Health allow," spokesperson Cindy MacKenzie said in an email.
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