One year of COVID at Concordia

At the least, students can expect a hybrid fall semester

It’s been a year since Concordia closed its doors because of the pandemic. What’s on the horizon in the year to come? File Photo Laura Lalonde

March 11, 2021, marked the one-year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. On March 13, 2020, Concordia University announced they would be switching from in-person classes to online learning until March 30, 2020. It has been over a year since Concordians have made the transition to online learning.

While some students have been able to participate in in-person classes on campus, the majority of students continued their studies entirely online. There has been much debate among students about Concordia’s handling of the pandemic, and what the future semesters with COVID-19 may look like. Students have expressed a wide variety of concerns with issues from  online proctoring platforms to international students not receiving accommodations due to different time zones.

So, what has Concordia learned from the pandemic? Laura Mitchell, director of the Student Success Centre, explained that previously, the university did not use a lot of technology to support their services, and most of them were offered in person. Since then, the university has recognized how a hybrid service model can help make their services more accessible compared to them being solely in person. “We've learned that this model has a lot of benefits for our students,” she said.

The Student Success Centre provides services like workshops on time and stress management. Moving their services online, their registration numbers have tripled. “Online services are a really good thing we want to continue,” Mitchell said. 

Kate Sterns, an associate professor in Concordia’s English department, hopes the university will offer in-person classes this fall. “I hope it will look like an in-person class. Although, I think Concordia will be looking at a different landscape,” she said. “I would like to see us back in person. Can there be accommodations? Absolutely.”

“Our big challenge is moving in and out of our buildings due to social distancing. Returning in person will have to be done very carefully and slowly.” — Dr. Sandra Gabriele

According to Dr. Sandra Gabriele, Vice Provost of Innovation in Teaching and Learning, the university will soon be conducting campus wide consultations with the Concordia community that will include students, faculty, and student-facing staff. The consultations will address the university’s need for a more inclusive pedagogy and the need to make learning spaces more inclusive.

Concordia announced on Feb. 13 that the summer 2021 semester will be delivered remotely. Now, students must wait until May for the university’s verdict about studying in-person for the fall semester. 

“We are watching the news and consulting with public health,” Gabriele explained. “Our big challenge is moving in and out of our buildings due to social distancing. Returning in person will have to be done very carefully and slowly.”

Public health recommendations for classroom capacities, Concordia’s building structure, social distancing, which courses will benefit from in-person classes, and class size will all be taken into consideration. Gabriele also mentioned that priority for in-person classes would be given to first and second year students.

“It all depends on public health guidelines, but there will be a hybrid delivery,” said Mitchell about what to anticipate for the fall semester.