Lakeland College’s Vice President of Academics and Research says they’re receiving optimistic news about re-opening the school for the Fall semester.

Towards the end of the Spring semester, the college had to move to largely online means of course delivery, as COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings were tightened. Since then, the college has been in contact with other post-secondaries and Alberta Health Services to come up with a game plan to welcome students back on campus in September.

VP Michael Crowe says that from what he’s been hearing from medical authorities, he’s confident the school is prepared for students and staff to physically be back again.

“There’s going to be limits, or caps, on class size, but because Lakeland has small class sizes to begin with we think we can work within those limits pretty effectively. There’s also going to be requirements for physical distancing while in class, or in labs, so we’ll make sure we’re honouring those requirements.”

Lakeland College has already begun work to meet the new health guidelines. Dormitories have been moved to single-person rooms, updates made to hygiene requirements and health assessment checks using AHS tools and flipping classrooms for more hands-on lessons, smaller lecture sizes and smaller work-group sizes.

Crowe says that while classroom sizes will be smaller, there’s still room for new students at Lakeland.

“We’re coming up with a plan that will allow all of our learners to get the education that they’re looking for this fall. So, we aren’t going to put any constraints on enrollment numbers. There will be some constraints on class sizes, but we’re going to welcome students onto campus, and whoever’s looking for a spot in our programs, we’ll work our best to find that spot.”

One thing the college is keeping an eye on is the possibility of lower new enrollment numbers as both domestic and international students wait out the global pandemic.

Crowe says he’s been hearing a lot of questions from prospective students, but with COVID-19 numbers on the decline in Alberta and the Ministry of Advanced Education guidelines recognizing a need for in-person learning, he believes they’ll be able to deliver to both new and returning students.

“[Students] will have the in-person experience, that hands-on experience that they value when they come to Lakeland, we will be able to provide that. I think as all of that becomes more clear, students will feel a lot more comfortable with what this academic year looks like.”

Lakeland College aims to have a plan finalized by mid-June, which they will communicate to staff and students directly.