NSCC’s 2020-21 academic year moving online with some exceptions

by Gayle Wilson

Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) has announced that programming for the 2020-21 academic year will include either fully scheduled or unscheduled online classes or a blended format of online and on-campus classes.

There will be no fully on-campus programs for the year.

Incoming students across the province have been advised that their program choice may have changed in its delivery format, according to Craig Collins, principal at the NSCC Lunenburg Campus in Bridgewater.

Admissions staff are ready to answer any questions students may have "as well as to explain their options," Craig told LighthouseNOW.

A press release issued by the college explained that the program plan allows the NSCC to continue delivering more than 130 programs while following public health guidelines and maintaining "academic integrity and excellence in teaching and learning.

"The changes also ensure program offerings match the needs and demands of the province's rapidly changing economy," the release added.

The NSCC's 17 campuses, including Bridgewater's, are undergoing "significant modifications" to ensure students and employees have safe access to the spaces, tools and and technology necessary to support teaching, learning and service delivery, with details expected "in the coming month," according to the news release.

NSCC President Don Bureaux suggested incoming and returning students can expect the same quality of programming even if delivery looks a little different in the coming year.

"The health and safety of our students, employees and broader community are of paramount importance to the College. Like all others adapting to our new reality, the upcoming year will look slightly different as we continue to deliver high quality programming while sharing in the collective commitment to minimize any further spread of COVID-19," Bureaux stated in the release.

Collins told LighthouseNOW the college was expecting a couple of scenarios as a result of the proposed changes.

"Some students are going to continue and say, 'Yes, I'm coming to NSCC; I can't wait.' And others students may say, 'You know what? Given that the programming is going online, that doesn't really match how I learn. And as a result I may prefer to defer my seat until next year.

"So that's the conversation that our admissions team would have with them in order to make sure that they're making the best decision for themselves," said Collins.

The NSCC's latest three-year tuition schedule was announced in May 2019, indicating a three per cent increase, so the proposed changes will have no impact on fees, Collins explained. While Bureaux noted in the release that the NSCC is aware that many students are experiencing financial strain due to the pandemic.

"We are here to work with them to find opportunities for assistance through federal and provincial programs, as well as over $1 million in student awards available and assistance through the NSCC Foundation," reported the NSCC's president.

For the graduating class of 2020, students in all programs other than Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) will be graduating. The NSCC worked to provide online instruction where applicable to meet the practical component needs, while in programs such as the Physical Therapy Assistant Program, the college deemed students had enough clinical hours above and beyond what their requirement was for their accrediting agency.

Collins explained that because CCA workers are a regulated program with an oversight body, they need to have a certain number of clinical hours. He said the college is still working with those students to get them through that component of their program.

"We anticipate that that will not happen quickly, just because of, you know, the health care system is pretty careful in how they are re-introducing different components into the system," suggested Collins. Some students may not finish until early fall.

"As a result, our new CCA intake will be deferred to November," added Collins.

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