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Selkirk College Cautiously Sets Course for New Normal

Members of the Selkirk College Health & Safety Department have been working with staff at Nelson’s trades-based Silver King Campus to prepare for the limited return of students in the next few weeks. The regional post-secondary is completing detailed plans for both its operational structure and education delivery over the coming months. — Submitted photo

Selkirk College is creating carefully crafted plans for a phased return to in-person delivery of post-secondary education on its campuses and learning centres.

The college adjourned in-person instruction on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moving students to alternate delivery models for the remainder of the Winter Semester.

Once the pivot away from on-campus study was accomplished, staff and faculty began planning for how to deliver the education, skills and training to learners in alignment with direction set by the BC Provincial Health Officer and the Provincial Government.

“The move away from in-person delivery was accomplished quickly and required a monumental effort by students, faculty and staff to accomplish completion of the term,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme.

“Everybody involved should take great pride in the dedication and adaptability required to make it a success under very trying circumstances. As we set our sights on a measured return to a new normal, the plans we are putting in place will allow Selkirk College to safely deliver programs to the standard of excellence expected by students.”

Post-secondary is considered an essential service in British Columbia with Selkirk College following the direction of the BC Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Health. Under B.C.’s COVID-19 Go-Forward Strategy released on May 6, post-secondary is in Phase 3 of the restart plan.

Following provincial directives, Selkirk College has prepared two specific plans and new guidelines for the months ahead that are aligned with other public post-secondary institutions around the province, regulations from WorkSafeBC and input from staff at all levels.

Selkirk College’s plans describe the detailed approaches to exposure and transmission control, and how day-to-day operations at facilities will change. Plans also address how more than 60 credential and accredited programs will be delivered in the coming months which include new operating requirements for the delivery of in-person instruction and learning activities for those programs where some in-class instruction will be required. The college anticipates further refinements to operating standards based on the best information available at a given time, but has provided a solid foundation to build upon. 

“The health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the community is the absolute number-one priority while we move forward with operations on our campuses,” says Kerry Clarke, Selkirk College’s Vice President of College Services.

“With full understanding that this situation can shift quickly and remains unpredictable, the college has put together detailed plans that are vital as we proceed over the coming months. If all those who arrive on our campuses adhere to the policies and procedures put in place, we are confident our facilities can function under these altered conditions.”

The diversity of programs offered at Selkirk College requires a careful balance of in-person and online delivery to achieve desired outcomes for learners. Some programs, like those in the School of Industry & Trades Training, rely on hands-on training in order to complete requirements and assessment.

Detailed plans lay out and fully describe delivery models that include online, hybrid, traditional in-class and remote learning.

“With support from our Teaching & Learning Institute and IT Services, leadership and guidance by our deans and chairs, and the energy and innovation of our faculty, the Education Division is moving forward under a new model that will continue to deliver on the expectations of our students,” says Rhys Andrews, Selkirk College’s Vice President of Education.

“The advantage of small class sizes, applied learning, and experience with online and distance learning, is a real asset moving forward. The next few months are far from a return to normal, but we will continue to provide students with the education, skills and training to enable them to achieve their goals.”

Selkirk College is currently offering Spring Semester courses through an online model. Some current programs in the School of Industry & Trades Training that have been proceeding online since March 17, will begin moving into shop spaces by the end of May to provide students with the required training on equipment. A limited number of programs will begin in-person lab training next month.

You can find out more about Selkirk College’s COVID-19 response at selkirk.ca.