As the University of Saskatchewan approaches the one-year mark of when the campus first closed, plans to reopen in Fall Term 2021 are emerging.
On March 4, a message from the university president Peter Stoicheff was released to students. He says that he is confident in seeing “a significant increase to in-person, on-campus instruction for Fall 2021,” but uncertainties still remain.
“We cannot at this stage say exactly what the proportion of face-to-face versus remote program delivery will be in the Fall Term,” Stoicheff said.
The U of S is not the first to release their Fall Term 2021 plans. On Feb. 9, the University of Lethbridge announced their return to on-campus instruction. Joining ULeth, on Feb. 23 McGill University and the University of Alberta announced a return to in-person delivery. Lastly, the University of Ottawa and Western University plan for on-campus instruction this fall too, announced on Feb. 25 and March 2, respectively.
These universities, among many others who have announced their reopenings, are looking into a hybrid model of in-person and online course delivery. According to Stoicheff, the U of S is looking into a similar model.
“We will work to meet the needs, where possible, of students unable to join us on campus with continued remote learning options,” Stoicheff said. “Similar analysis is underway to determine the options available for staff returning to work on campus or continuing with remote working arrangements.”
Stoicheff also anticipates the reopening of the campus residences, which have been closed since March 2020.
At other universities with open on-campus residences, COVID-19 outbreaks have been common, with the latest outbreak in a Western University residence announced on March 2. The University of Guelph has been dealing with the same issue, reportedly struggling to contain an outbreak in their student residences from late January to mid-February of this year. The outbreak was declared over on Feb. 17.
As for the U of S, the details on program delivery will be released in May. For now, Stoicheff says that the next Winter Term at the university will likely see a full return to in-person classes.
“While there is much planning and logistical work to be done, I am confident that the Fall term will begin our transition back to a completely operational university campus, with full face-to-face program delivery likely at the start of 2022,” Stoicheff said.
Stoicheff ends his message to all campus members with a call to remain cognizant of the pandemic.
“A year into the COVID-19 crisis, we are closer to the end of this pandemic, but we haven’t finished with it, or it with us, quite yet,” Stoicheff said. “Continued flexibility may be required of all of us… Let us all work together to do everything we can to accelerate the end of the pandemic.”