All classes taught at Aurora College this fall will be through online distance learning with some in-person instruction taking place later on, the college announced Tuesday.

The programs scheduled to be delivered by distance learning include Business Administration, Office Administration, Early Childhood Development, Certificate in Adult Education, Personal Support Worker (full-time), Personal Support Worker (part-time pilot), Occupations and College Access (OCAP), University and College Access (UCAP), Adult Literacy and Basic Education (ALBE), campus-based and in Community Learning Centres (CLCs), and other Literacy and Essential Skills courses.

Aurora College will offer its programs for the new school year through a mixture of distance and in-person learning, while some programs won’t be offered. Blair McBride/NNSL

The college plans to work with the GNWT and other partners to provide more access to technology and the internet for students learning by distance.

Programs that will be offered through a mix of distance and face-to-face learning are Environment and Natural Resources Technology, Early Learning and Child Care, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Apprenticeship Carpentry Levels 1 and 3, Electrical Levels 1 and 2, and Plumber Level 1. Their in-person delivery is dependent on approval by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO).

The portions of those programs that will involve face-to-face learning won’t start in September but later in the semester, said Aurora College spokesperson Jayne Murray.

Programs that are currently not scheduled to begin for the fall include Heavy Equipment Operator, mining programs, non-apprenticeship trades programs, and non-academic courses at Community Learning Centres. Further discussion with the OCPHO will determine when they might be resumed.

Tuition refund measure

As a transition measure for adult students unfamiliar with distance learning, the college is offering a tuition refund guarantee for all full- and part-time students in September who aren’t satisfied with the quality of their courses. Those students can withdraw by Oct. 9 and will receive a full tuition refund, with no academic penalty.

Students will receive a 50 per cent tuition refund and no academic penalty if they withdraw before Nov. 9, an extension of several weeks past the normal withdrawal deadline of one-third completion in a 15-week course.

“Aurora College recognizes that students may have questions about the quality and effectiveness of distance learning. We want to assure them that we are confident of the quality of the programs we are delivering and that we are willing to back that up,” said Aurora College president Andy Bevan.

Student housing

For students who don’t have the resources in their communities to do distance learning, Aurora will make campus student housing available in September.

“Most of our student residences are self-contained units (apartments, row houses, single family homes), so the risk of interacting with others is minimal. We continue to work with the OCPHO in regards what needs to be put in place in order to make our shared residence spaces safe and comply with the public health orders,” said Murray.

Chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola said at a news conference in May that college dormitories are a “high-risk scenario” for the spread of Covid-19, but her office was open to plans for minimizing risk while providing support.

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Student applications have been extended from June 30 to mid-August, subject to spots still available in the programs.

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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