RRC Announces Fall Academic Programs will be Online

By: Michelle Karlenzig

Photo Credit: Alexis Brandt

Students may not return to Red River College campuses this fall, according to a college announcement on May 20. The second phase of the province’s reopening plans includes an allowance of 25 students per classroom. However, the college stated this week that classes remain online to give priority to programs left behind from the last term.

Christine Watson, RRC’s CEO and interim president, said the approach was made to keep students and staff’s safety at the forefront. But, as provincial health and safety guidelines pivot, these college policies pivot with them, leaving students wondering how their fall semester will unfold.

Taylor Yusishen, an Electrical Engineer Technology student, commutes to school over two hours per day from Lockport.

“Honestly, I was glad when I found out it was remote,” Yusishen said. “I was able to re-watch material when things went online last semester, and now I have more time at home to study.” 

The 25-year-old says the college provided her with a brand new laptop, and access to simulation programming. She says this helped her effectively finish the last months of the winter semester.

“My teachers were helpful. I actually got better grades this semester than last.”

With a variety of RRC programs adjusting in their own way, some students aren’t as excited about online learning.

Brooke Paulsen, 23, is entering her third year of the Nursing Program at RRC.  She said she is disappointed with the move to remote learning, and specifically with practicum cancellations.

“It’s a little frightening going into my last term and not knowing if I am going to be in clinical or not,” said Paulsen.

Paulsen said after working two years of working in hospitals through practicum, she’s now lost some skills and worries for her future. The college determined it was unsafe for her and her cohort to continue practicum in hospitals due to COVID-19, and her inability to contribute goes against her nature.

“That ‘s the toughest part,” she said. “Us nurses are bred to want to help, and this would be a perfect time to be a nurse.”

Paulsen was recently hired as a health care aide at the Beausejour Hospital and said although the colleges believe it to be a safety risk, a high percentage of her cohort are still working in local hospitals.

“[The college] is not protecting us from COVID-19 because we’re exposing ourselves anyways.”

The announcement prioritizes hands-on programs and students who have fallen behind on the cusp of graduation. No specific programs have been named thus far.

A recent survey conducted by The Canadian Association of University Teachers shows a significant number of students are reconsidering their education plans. The survey, comprising high school and post-secondary students in Canada, found 30 per cent of returning and new students might change their plans to enroll at a post-secondary institution in the fall.

For Brooke Paulsen, she says she has no choice but to continue and push towards graduation.

“It’s hard. You make life plans…and, it’s being put on halt because we don’t know when we’re going to graduate,” said Paulsen.

Technical colleges like Robertson College have implemented an online classroom through Brightspace. RRC has yet to release info about logistics or a unified system to carry-out programs and services.

For questions or concerns regarding the online fall semester visit: Fall 2020 Planning