Windsor

University of Windsor extends online classes into fall semester

The University of Windsor announced it will extend online learning into the fall semester.

Decision about winter 2021 semester will come in the fall

Dora Cavallo-Medved is a professor in the department of biomedical sciences and also works in the Dean of Science office in student experience. (Kaitie Fraser/CBC)

The University of Windsor announced it will extend online learning into the fall semester. 

In a statement Friday, the university acknowledged that although the province was reopening some facilities after shutting down due to COVID-19, there would be "limits to how we operate on university campuses for some time."

The university said that because students live, learn and socialize in campus spaces, the conditions "pose significant risks for the transmission of COVID-19."

The university wants to be prepared for the possibility of outbreak and maintain strict physical distancing measures. 

Courses and final exams will all be primarily online for the fall 2020 semester, according to the university's statement, so that students are able "to pursue safely and successfully the academic goals they have chosen, no matter where they are, what their situations are, or how health risks evolve."

A decision about the winter 2021 semester will come in the fall. 

Meanwhile, St. Clair College has not yet made an official decision about what the fall semester will look like. 

The spring semester is currently online. 

"There has been no official decision on fall 2020 delivery being online or face to face," said John Fairley, vice president of college communications and community relations. 

"We as a College are doing our due diligence for both possibilities for September. We are engaged and working with the ministry, local public health units in Windsor/Chatham and Colleges Ontario.

Faculties already taking steps to prepare for online fall semester

Dora Cavallo-Medved, a professor in the department of biomedical sciences, said professors had been anticipating the shift to an online fall semester, especially after the decision to move the remainder of the 2020 winter semester online in March.

"Some of us were able to begin to get a taste of what it's like to teach online and to transition your courses that are typically face-to-face to an online setting," Medved said, adding that from her perspective, her course ended strongly. 

Medved said faculties have already begun taking steps to determine how to move more learning online.

Online courses will continue at the University of Windsor into the fall semester, to ensure the safety of students. (Tom Addison/CBC)

Though the University of Windsor already offers an online learning portal called Blackboard, Medved said it'll be especially challenging to move hands-on teaching labs to a digital platform.

"To be honest, we've already got working groups already assigned within the faculty of science, with professors and department heads across the various programs that we have, that are working collaboratively to be able to see what tools are out there already that we can make available to ourselves," she said. 

Medved added that video chat platforms will be an integral part of maintaining the student experience — including office hours, small group discussions and even connecting incoming first-years with upper-year students.

... We've already got working groups already assigned within the faculty of science ...- Dora Cavallo-Medved, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Windsor

"The more that we are in communication with our students, the better they feel," she said. "They feel more confident. They feel reassured. They feel that we are there for them as well."

And for those Grade 12 students preparing for their first year of undergraduate studies, Medved explained that the University of Windsor has been in contact with area high schools to share tips and tricks to prepare.

"We just ran four information sessions with Grade 12 science and math teachers," she said. "We've had a great response from teachers across our local school boards, as well as regional school boards as far away as Chatham and Sarnia." 

With files from Kaitie Fraser

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