A message from Dr. Christine Watson, Interim President & CEO, to all Red River College employees
Dear College colleagues,
As you may be aware, the Province of Manitoba announced today that it is starting to reopen certain businesses and services in phases. However, there is still tremendous uncertainty around when – and to what degree – colleges and universities will be allowed to reopen their facilities to employees, students and the public.
The Province’s plan is a staged approach that continues to restrict large group gatherings for the foreseeable future. This has a direct impact on all educational facilities in the province, as we are mass gatherings by design.
This continuing uncertainty has a significant impact on RRC’s academic planning for the fall term.
Our fall term will be largely directed by public health protocols and their impact on campus operations and the mobility of our faculty, staff and students. Continued efforts to “flatten the curve” will eventually help us return to campus, but we don’t know when and what restrictions will be required in order to safely reconvene. As a result, there are many potential return-to-campus scenarios that will be guided by public health directives.
This is a dynamic and evolving reality, where the only certainty at this time is uncertainty. Until we have clearance from public health to re-open our facilities, we need to continue our unwavering focus on providing high-quality, RRC education at a distance. Because spring and summer are vital planning periods for the fall term, we need to move forward based on the information we have right now – and that means assuming we will still be providing alternative delivery of programs and services this fall.
To best position the College to be ready as public health directives are announced, we have started scenario planning, where we will consider what staged re-opening would look like for RRC, have our operational plans ready to go, and be prepared to adjust quickly as necessary. We will balance that with the need to proceed cautiously, in accordance with public health advice, in order to protect our employees and students.
It is extremely challenging to plan for a future that still has so many unknowns. However, we will require and call upon those who have expertise in the delivery of our programs and services to assist in developing the details of each scenario and ensure the plans are realistic and operational. We will provide more information on this process in the coming days and weeks.
While the formal scenario planning process is important – we also need your help. To help RRC prepare for fall, we ask that you think about what alternate delivery means for your programs and services as well as how the College can implement a staged, gradual return to our operations if allowed to do so. This means every one of us having conversations with our colleagues and managers about what alternative delivery for fall looks like for our respective areas. This must be driven at every level of our organization in order to be successful.
I appreciate that the idea of continuing to be away from campus into the fall is disappointing news. The shift to remote delivery has been a complicated undertaking for many programs and services and we miss the hustle and bustle of campus life (not to mention spontaneous hallway conversations!). Many of you have also told me that you are keen to apply some of the new tools and learning that you have experienced during this time into your regular programming, including a greater opportunity to incorporate blended learning going forward.
What we do know is that the College will be changed in many ways by this pandemic, and we look forward to incorporating the many lessons we have learned from this experience. We also know that your continued commitment to ensuring a strong RRC and the success of our students is essential to the rebuilding of our economy and our community. Thank you for all your hard work, flexibility and creativity as we consider how best to support our students and partners in the coming months.
Please stay safe and take care of yourselves.