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Questions about classes opening at Aurora College in September remain unanswered for now but the college plans to make a final decision shortly.

The GNWT has permitted elementary and high schools to reopen under the first phase of its Emerging Wisely lockdown recovery plan, but adult colleges present higher health risks than children’s schools. Therefore, post-secondary institutions will only be allowed to reopen in the plan’s third phase.

RELATED REPORTING: Schools, hair salons may reopen as GNWT announces ease on restrictions

That phase can begin after a possible second wave of Covid cases in Canada and the United States has passed, which Emerging Wisely stated could occur between August and October.

Andy Bevan, president of Aurora College, said a decision will be made in the near future about the status of classes in September, which can begin when the NWT enters the third phase of the Emerging Wisely recovery plan.
NNSL file photo

Aurora is looking at three options for September,  said college president Andy Bevan.

“(1) Covid-19 measures have been lifted, and operations return to normal; (2) phase three is not reached, and all programming that is offered is delivered by distance; (3) we start in or transition into phase three during the academic year, and Covid-19 response measures allow or require a mix of remote and in-person instruction. We have been planning for each of these options.”

Bevan said much of the college’s programming has already been moved to distance formats in the latter part of the 2019-2020 academic year in case all or many of the programs will be delivered by distance in September.

Considering that many programs at Aurora involve hands-on and practicum components, such as nursing and trades courses, Bevan said the college is “looking at how our normal academic schedules and activities may need to be adjusted to ensure we include all necessary elements of programs are included.”

Bevan didn’t provide details on how those adjustments might be made, but a GNWT spokesperson said details are being worked out and more information will be available in the near future.

Chief public health officer Kami Kandola explained to reporters on May 14 that she’s open to creative solutions on reducing the health risks of adult college environments.

“If Aurora College can come up with a plan on minimizing risk while providing support, we’re open to that. But, specific to health, it can be difficult to physically distance around demos or models. How would they decrease the risk? We would consider it but colleges or universities would be overcrowding.”

RELATED REPORTING: Early opening of patio dining, outdoor sport events possible, GNWT says

Financial assistance

Applications continue to be accepted for student financial aid, said Jacqueline McKinnon, spokesperson with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.

Adjustments have been made to the online application process to reduce in-person interactions and students can receive further assistance over the phone, McKinnon said.

Loan payment deferrals will remain in place until the end of September, with interest accumulation suspended during this time.

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Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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