King’s announces that classes will return to in-person instruction this fall in an email.
In the April 13 memo, University of King’s College president William Lahey announces that King’s will follow Dalhousie’s lead with in-person classes, and gives specifics for what campus might look like.
“It is pure joy to write this note about the coming academic year,” writes Lahey. “The good news is that teaching and learning, and our communal life in general, will once again be largely in person this fall.”
The decision has been ongoing for weeks, said Lahey in an interview. Because many King’s students take courses at Dalhousie, it only made sense to wait for Dalhousie’s plan.
“We really wanted to know what Dalhousie was doing before we could activate what we wanted to do, which was to be in person next year,” Lahey said.
The plan comes in accordance with Nova Scotia’s success in keeping COVID-19 under control and its plan for everyone in the province 16 years or older to have access to vaccinations by June 30.
According to the email, revised safety plans will allow most courses to be held in person this fall, including classes with more than 100 students.
The Foundation Year Program will have in-person lectures and tutorials but will offer the option of completing the program online. The School of Journalism’s undergraduate programs and upper year humanities programs will primarily return to in-person instruction.
There may be a few exceptions. Lahey said some graduate programs may have online components. Decisions for both undergraduate and graduate programs are being made within individual academic programs.
To avoid large concentrations of people, the academic timetable is being revised. Back-to-back class scheduling may be avoided, and larger classes may be broken into smaller ones.
Residence buildings and Prince Hall will open at a greater capacity than this year. With safety plans in place, the Wardroom, Galley and King’s Co-Op Bookstore will be able to operate in person.
Student services and student life will also return in person “to the greatest extent safely possible.” This includes the Registrar and Bursar’s offices, the library, gym, chapel and President’s Lodge.
Although decisions on athletics will be made at the conference level, Lahey says they are “confident the Blue Devils will be once again competing against other universities.”
Starting this summer, faculty and staff will return to campus in a phased approach.
Lahey says that COVID-19-related barriers international students encountered this year will be reduced by the decision to return to in-person classes. He said students were often refused admission to Canada because of online learning.
“Their view was that if it’s online, you don’t have to be in Canada to take the course,” Lahey said. “They entirely ignored that our residences were in person this year, and part of an undergraduate education is, for example, the residential experience.”
“We’re confident that that is one barrier to coming to King’s that international students will no longer face.”
The return to in-person campus life will be accomplished safely by following Public Health requirements and King’s own safety protocols, which are being developed.
The email says King’s safety protocols will likely include:
- Physical distancing of less than six feet in classrooms and other spaces
- Wearing masks in some settings, including classrooms
- Contact tracing
- Improved ventilation systems
In-person college life relies on Nova Scotia achieving its population immunity goals and keeping the virus under control.
“If those two things don’t materialize, then we will have to reconsider,” Lahey said.
But Lahey says he’s confident they will.
“My view is also that even if there’s some difficulty in meeting those conditions, if we, from this day forward, plan with determination to make in-person teaching and learning and life possible, then we will be able to do that safely.”
Details about safety operations will be released after more conversations and consultations take place. Lahey says he hopes to release residence information in May and information concerning course selection in June. Students are asked to check King’s website and their email for future updates.