Sudbury

Northeastern Ontario colleges and universities return to online learning

While elementary schools and high schools have returned to in-person classes, northeastern Ontario’s post-secondary institutions have largely moved to remote learning.

Northeastern Ontario's colleges and universities are either fully or partially online this month

Laurentian University students were on campus for most fall term courses, but are back to remote learning for the winter term, at least until early February. (Erik White/CBC )

While elementary schools and high schools have returned to in-person classes, northeastern Ontario's post-secondary institutions have largely moved to remote learning.

On Jan. 15, Laurentian University students were told by email that a staged return to in-person classes could begin as early as Feb. 7.

"We anticipate being able to provide further information on the staged return to campus by Jan. 21," Laurentian president Robert Haché said in the email.

During the fall term, students at the Sudbury university were able to attend most classes in person, with capacity limits and social distancing measures in place.

"Some of the larger classes like calculus were online, but the vast majority of the traditionally face-to-face ones were face to face," said Eric Chappell, president of Laurentian's Students' General Association (SGA).

Chappell said the news Laurentian wouldn't return to remote learning until early February was difficult for some students.

"A majority of students really want the education that they're paying for, which is, you know, a face-to-face education with a good on-campus experience," he said.

Eric Chappell is the president of Laurentian's Students General Association. (sga-age.com)

Chappell said the SGA has argued for a blended delivery model, where students can attend class in person if they feel safe to do so, but the same class would also be streamed over Zoom. 

But like other universities in the region, Laurentian has opted to stick to remote learning while the Omicron variant continues to surge.

Sault Ste. Marie's Algoma University has said all in-person gatherings on campus are cancelled until Jan. 30. Those gatherings include in-person classes, the university said.

And North Bay's Nipissing University has said on its website that faculty should be prepared to deliver their courses online until Jan. 31.

But Nipissing said some nursing courses would still continue to be delivered in person.

Hands-on courses at colleges

Sudbury's colleges have taken a mixed approach to course delivery.

Collège Boréal said on its website that courses will be offered remotely until Jan. 28. But the francophone college included a list of more than 200 hands-on courses that would be offered either fully or partially on campus. 

Cambrian College has taken a similar approach, with theory courses offered virtually, and hands-on courses offered on campus.

Cambrian spokesperson Dan Lessard said the college is following provincial guidelines to ensure the safety of its students and faculty during in-person classes.

"Physical distancing as much as possible and you have to wear a mask when you're on campus, when you're in a lab," he said.

"If you're in your own private office space and there's no one else around you or a private space and there's no one around you, you do not have to wear a mask. But the minute someone comes into your space, your mask goes back on."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Migneault

Digital reporter/editor

Jonathan Migneault is a CBC digital reporter/editor based in Sudbury. He is always looking for good stories about northeastern Ontario. Send story ideas to jonathan.migneault@cbc.ca.

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