The long weekend is behind us and the spring semester has begun – the first in Durham College (DC) history with both program and service delivery starting completely online.
As a college, we navigated our way through the short-term “survival” phase of operating in a COVID-19 world and showed the strength of our community to be adaptable, flexible and resilient.
Now, we shift to the next challenge of planning for a future in which we have no reference points. A future where all of us have innumerable decisions to make about how to craft our work in ways that will continue to be meaningful and safe.
It probably still feels as if the work being done to implement new techniques for program and service delivery is an exception – a one-time thing to respond to odd circumstances. What we are quickly coming to understand is that a COVID-19 world requires new strategies for educating, providing service, and working together that will carry us beyond those exceptions and into the future.
We may not have chosen to build this future in this way, but there are opportunities for each of us to make positive choices about how we move forward.
To that end, student affairs departments have developed strategies to sustain and expand services to students throughout the end of the winter semester. As the spring semester begins, departments have enhanced options to continue delivering remote services, and are building their plans collaboratively with academic and service partners for a phased approach to return to campus. The plans also consider parameters being developed by a joint campus task force, as they develop best practices for campus engagement in consultation with public health; and in consultation with provincial organizations.
Below is a quick overview of some of the changes and plans for service delivery you can expect to see in the fall:
|Department||Continued Services||Fall Planning|
|All departments continue to provide a full range of services and supports for students. See www.durhamcollege.ca/coronavirus for details.|
|Access and Support Centre||All services have moved to online and/or remote delivery, including accommodations, assistive technology, counselling, and coaching.||A plan is in place for on-campus and remote delivery of services to provide options to students.|
|Athletics||Fitness and well-being programs and tips are available online.||The department is working with provincial and national organizations to develop detailed strategies for varsity sports.|
|Virtual athletic awards, celebration and acknowledgements.||Exploration of recreation programs to meet social distancing requirements.|
|Virtual wrap up of seasons.|
|Campus Health Centre||Doctors continue to book phone appointments and mental health supports continue.||Planning for clinic to reopen is underway and supplies ordered. Services will continue virtually and in person.|
|Career Development||Employment opportunities continue to be posted on the Hired Portal. Students and graduates continue to book online appointments and sign up for live webinars. Faculty may request live or recorded career workshops to be delivered to their online classes.||Career coaching will continue virtually and in-person once approved. Virtual employer campus recruitment plans are underway. Enhanced faculty and student COVID-19 related career toolkits will be available on the Hired Portal.|
|Co-operative Education||On-site and virtual work terms started as of May 19. Students have options to transfer to a non-co-op stream of their program and timelines for decision-making have been expanded.||Plans continue for the expansion of a number of programs offering co-operative education options.|
|Employment Services||New job options continue to become available. Clients are accessing employment supports through phone and virtual appointments. We are finding new ways to connect with community job seekers facing barriers to employment.||Preparations for continued in-person and virtual supports are underway. Working with government and impacted sectors to help recruit for these important areas, starting with our health care, food and agriculture industries.|
|Financial Aid and Awards||Processed approximately $1 million in bursaries to support student need during COVID-19 challenges.||OSAP applications open May 20 for Fall semester.|
|Office of Campus Safety||Security services continue on campus.||Emergency manager working with joint task force for DC and Ontario Tech to plan for return to campus.|
|Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions||Spring orientation programs are underway.||New modules for summer transitions developed for remote delivery.|
|Residence||Student space continues to be available for spring and summer.||Applications are being accepted for September 2020.|
|Strategic Enrolment Services||Processing grades and records for students to graduate or continue their programs.||Plans in place for virtual celebration of graduates.|
|Registering students for Spring and Fall semesters.||Online tours and live chat for applicants to learn more about coming to campus in the fall.|
|Student Academic Learning Services||Tutoring, workshops and individual appointments continue with remote access.||Fall planning includes boot camps in math and science, and enhanced online supports.|
Meri Kim Oliver,