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Re-entry planning: Academics ramp up for Phase 2

July 31, 2020

Red River College has been working hard to make sure we can continue to support our students, employees, and industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our campuses are re-opening in four phases, and we successfully began Phase 2 on July 15.

Planning for academics

In April, we established an Academic Re-Entry Team to start preparing for what learning and teaching would look like as we began to resume activities on campus. This group, made up of representatives from academic and non-academic areas, is committed to finding innovative ways to continue to deliver education during this time.

“Through hands-on learning and state-of-the-art instruction, we prepare our students to become leaders in their fields – the pandemic hasn’t changed that,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO. “Students are learning important new skills as they adapt to the changes COVID-19 brings, and will play a crucial role in contributing to Manitoba’s economy more than ever.”

COVID-19 impacted post-secondary institutions across the province; however, as we work through re-entry, Phase 2 is enabling the College to resume important hands-on and industry training activities, and has allowed us to prepare for the fall delivery of our academic programs.

“We restarted essential learning activities on campus in Phase 1, and we’re pleased to keep that momentum going as we proceed through this next phase. Students whose learning or hands-on training was disrupted earlier this year are well on their way, and it’s encouraging to see,” says RaeAnn Thibeault, Executive Director, Academic.

What learning looks like in Phase 2

What’s the same? Courses, as part of our spring academic term will continue to be delivered online, and essential hands-on training will continue on campus.

What’s new? Students from additional programs in the Construction Trades, Hospitality and Culinary Arts, Indigenous Culinary Skills, Veterinary Technology, Dental Assisting, Medical Radiological Technology and Diagnostic Imaging, and Aircraft Maintenance Engineering will resume hands-on learning on campus. Apprenticeship programs will also resume during Phase 2 through a blend of online and hands-on training.

An online directory of courses and how they’ll be delivered for the Fall term is available at rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus/delivery-methods.

Flexible, online program delivery will become a normal facet of most, if not all, programs and courses even after the pandemic ends. However, it’s important to recognize the hands-on, applied, and experiential learning opportunities have always set Red River College apart.

“We know essential hands-on learning is critical, but we also know there are new ways we can help students learn those skills virtually, such as through online simulation. There will still be opportunities for students to meet their classmates, instructors, and to connect with industry through course work,” says Thibeault.

The College has developed a new Flexible Online Delivery Model to ensure we continue to provide the highest standard of learning while also meeting the requirement for physical distancing caused by COVID-19. This model will also allow for the delivery of hands-on learning where it’s deemed essential.

“Our ultimate goal is to slowly have students and employees return to campus, but to do so in a manner that is safe and consistent with advice from public health officials. I want to always reinforce that we’re committed to meaningful learning experiences for students,” says Thibeault.

What to expect on campus

COVID-19 is still present, and we must continue to take precautions to reduce our risk of contracting and spreading the virus. If you’re permitted to learn, teach or work at any campus, you’ll notice the following hygiene and physical distancing measures have been put in place to help keep you safe:

Hand sanitizing stations

These stations have been placed throughout our buildings and near designated entrances.

Signage

Posters with messaging such as “Please wait here” are posted near washrooms, elevators, microwaves, etc.

Floor markers

Floor markers are placed six feet apart to comply with public health requirements. Please watch for these markers as you approach service desks, bathrooms, elevators, classrooms, etc.

Physical barriers

In some spaces, you will encounter barriers similar to those you may have seen in grocery stores or banks. Please follow any directions provided by staff when you approach a service window.

Caution tape

Caution tape has been used to mark off common areas and classrooms with restricted access or seating throughout the College. These areas have been deep cleaned and cannot be used at this time.

Preparing for Phase 3 of Returning to Campus

July 31, 2020

The following message was sent on July 30 to all Red River College staff and students.

Good afternoon:

As Manitobans we have managed the impacts of COVID-19 better than many other regions, and that has positioned businesses and organizations such as Red River College to open our doors and prepare to take a leading role in rebuilding our province’s economy.

With Phase 2 of our re-entry plans well underway, we’ve been able to resume some student supports at our Notre Dame Campus. We have also had the opportunity to test and evaluate our readiness to welcome back an increased number of staff, faculty and students for Phase 3 of our College’s re-entry plan.

As long as public health measures continue to permit, Phase 3 will begin August 31 and coincide with the beginning of our Fall 2020 term. The goal of Phase 3 is to safely bring back as many employees and students to campus as public health guidelines allow.

At that time, we’ll offer even more catch-up training, along with approximately 60 academic programs that will be offered via blended delivery. There will be a staged and deliberate shift from remote to on-campus work in order to support the increased activity taking place this fall.

We’ve engaged leaders and managers in preparation for Phase 3, and they’ll be reaching out to you, if they haven’t already, with more information about what re-entry will look like for specific areas in the weeks ahead. We will also continue to work closely with public health officials to ensure your safety.

We’re doing our best to keep you up to date and fully informed. If you want to review the College’s return-to-campus plans, I encourage you to watch our webinar, or visit rrc.ca/coronavirus.

There is no manual for resuming operations following COVID-19 – and the amount of time and energy that has been invested in making our campuses safe places to work, teach, learn and research has been enormous. Thank you again for your efforts to support our College as we get ready to reopen, restart, and rebuild.

Take care,

Fred Meier
President & CEO

Did you miss our webinar on re-entry planning? A recording is now available.

July 16, 2020

We hosted a live webinar on July 14 to share our plans for re-entry. In the webinar, presenters walk us through our four phases of re-entry, what you can expect to see when you return to campus, and what our programs and training activities will look like over the summer and as we enter the fall term.

Members of our Incident Management Team and Academic Re-Entry Team have put their heads together to ensure a gradual and safe return to campus, with your learning, teaching, and working experience top of mind. Presenters from each team discuss how we’ve prepared all eight of our campuses for physical distancing, proper hygiene and sanitation, and take a deep dive into what online and blended learning looks like for students and faculty.

Hear what’s ahead as we move through our four phases by watching a recording of the webinar below.

RRC begins Phase 2 of campus re-entry

July 15, 2020

The following message was sent today to all Red River College staff and students.

Today marks a significant milestone in our Return to Campus Plan as we enter Phase 2.

It is important to recognize that throughout this pandemic, Red River College has remained open for business – we have just been working very differently in order to abide by public health guidelines and ensure the safety of our students, staff and faculty. It meant closing our campuses to the public and shifting the majority of our programming online.

This rapid shift was not easy, but it was important so we could do our part to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. I applaud all RRC employees for their agility and creativity during this time, and for their commitment to their students and the industries that rely on RRC grads. Our ingenuity will serve us well as we move forward through a time that is still uncertain.

More recently, we have developed a Return to Campus Plan that features several phases.

During Phase 1, we welcomed back a very limited number of students to complete essential hands-on learning they needed to finish courses interrupted by COVID-19. We also prepared our facilities to accommodate more students and staff as public health measures evolved to support the expanded re-opening of our province’s economy. Our research facilities stayed open for business, and they continue to be engaged in a number of industry projects.

In Phase 2, which begins this week, we will welcome more students back to campus including industry training. As we move through this phase, we will continue to find the balance between limited on-campus activities, planned in consultation with public health, and quality online learning. This is why we have developed a new Flexible Online Delivery approach, which focuses on enhancing the student experience in online learning.

Making our campuses ready to resume more hands-on learning activities has been an enormously complex undertaking — and so we owe a big thank-you to the academic, operational, and safety and health teams who came together to make Phase 2 possible. We are grateful for your expertise, your leadership, and your devotion to ensuring our students continue to experience high-quality learning in some of the most challenging times we have faced together as a community.

Each phase is an important step forward as we balance the health and safety of our community with our ability to permit more people back in our classrooms, office, labs and hallways. I know we are all looking forward to the moment we can open our doors to all our staff and students. We will get there. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience, your advice, and hard work to get us to this point and wish everyone good health in the months ahead.

Please visit our website for up-to-date information about our return-to-campus phasesguidelines and safety measures for those returning to campus, answers to frequently asked questions, and a list of all programs and delivery methods for Fall 2020.

If you are a student with specific questions about your program or returning to campus, please contact your program lead. If you are an employee with questions about returning to campus that are not answered online, please contact your supervisor.

Stay safe and take care of one another,

Fred Meier
President & CEO

Fall 2020 program delivery methods, program by program

July 14, 2020

Find out how RRC is delivering programs to new and returning students by visiting rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus/delivery-methods

There you’ll find a complete listing of our Fall 2020 programs, and information about what you can expect if you’re returning to campus.

The College has developed a new Flexible Online Delivery Model to ensure RRC continues to provide the highest standard of learning while also meeting physical distancing requirements. This model also allows for the delivery of hands-on learning where it’s essential. Our fall term will be proceeding under these guidelines.

Additional resources

Re-entry planning: Keeping our community and campuses safe

July 9, 2020

At times, it felt like many things slowed down as the COVID-19 pandemic took its hold on the world. But at Red River College, we’ve been moving faster than ever.

In March, College employees and students continued to teach, work and learn on campus until public health authorities directed large organizations – including colleges and universities – to transition to remote work and virtual learning. This direction was given to reduce mass gatherings to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Post-secondary institutions are mass gatherings by design, so it was important for the College to take quick action so we could continue to support the delivery of our programs while keeping everyone’s safety top priority.

Working together

As early as December, the College started taking steps to prepare for COVID-19 by activating its Emergency Operations Centre and Incident Management Team – a group made up of representatives from academic and non-academic areas who focus on ensuring our campuses are safe for employees, students, and the College community.

Since then, this team has coordinated our response to the virus. These early steps guided our initial response to the pandemic and continue to aid us as we make a gradual and limited return to campus.

Jodi Pluchinski, Director of Safety and Health Services, has been in the thick of our emergency response and is a leader within the Incident Management Team.

“A big part of my role is working with my colleagues across the College to help ensure our people and campuses are safe. Our Incident Management Team has been instrumental as we strategize on how to move through this pandemic,” says Pluchinski.

The Incident Management Team uses an Incident Command Structure, with employees assigned to different functional areas including planning, logistics, operations and finance. Following this structure has allowed the team to make informed decisions swiftly and pivot where needed as the pandemic unfolds.

Re-opening campuses

The Province of Manitoba’s Restoring Safe Services Plan now allows limited access to education facilities for hands-on learning, as long as strict physical distancing, sanitation, and other public health requirements can be maintained.

Red River College campuses are re-opening in four phases, and this approach reflects the specific needs of our programs and services. Throughout each phase, the number of employees and students on campus will be very limited as the majority of our people will continue to work and learn remotely. Phase 1 is already underway and Phase 2 begins on July 15.

“We’re happy we’ve been able to restart academic activities on campus, with priority being given to students whose learning was disrupted earlier this year and who need to complete critical industry training in order to graduate,” says RaeAnn Thibeault, Executive Director, Academic.

A cohort of international Health Care Aide students has already returned to campuses to complete skills training, and some aviation industry training has resumed at our regional Stevenson Campus. A small number of employees have also continued to work on campus during the pandemic to perform essential services.

While this is all good news in an uncertain time, COVID-19 is still present, and we must continue to take precautions to reduce our risk of contracting and spreading the virus. The Incident Management Team has also been hard at work creating a mandatory COVID-19 Orientation for all employees and students, as well as a COVID-19 policy that will be ready before we move into Phase 2.

Staying safe

Our Safety and Health Services team completed extensive occupancy assessments across all campuses and a deep cleaning of all common spaces. Signage, floor markers, hand sanitizing stations, and more will be in place to guide and direct the flow of people into, through and out of our campuses before Phase 2 begins.

Floor signage“Occupancy assessments took an incredible amount of time and resources, but we’re so impressed with how it’s all come together. We’ve followed public health guidelines on physical distancing to ensure we know how many employees and students can be in a space at any given time,” says Pluchinski.

The team is also working closely with our regional campuses to develop re-entry plans that support the delivery of services within each community. The College is moving at a fast and furious pace within our new reality, but Pluchinski reinforces how the safety of the College community remains top priority.

“Information continues to change daily, but when it does, we’re quick on our feet and able to adjust our plans to help keep everyone safe. I can’t say enough about the collaboration taking place between the Incident Management Team and all areas across the College. Our partnerships will only enhance the safety and health program at Red River College.”

A look at the numbers

  • 1.5 million square feet has been mapped out for safe occupancy assessments.
  • Employees have spent over 2,000 hours and counting working in the Emergency Operations Centre to support our response and re-entry planning.
  • We received and responded to more than 1,100 inquiries to the safety@rrc.ca email account at the onset of COVID-19 and that number only continues to grow.
  • Over 1,000 hours have gone into planning and developing a safe on-campus flow strategy.
  • Over 100 laptops were coordinated and distributed to students who didn’t have one at home so they could complete their studies.
  • More than 30 office ergonomic assessments have been completed virtually, and we continue to respond to inquiries about home office ergonomics.
  • The Incident Management Team meets once a week and stays in regular contact using Microsoft Teams.

What academics will look like for Fall 2020

An online directory of RRC courses and how they will be delivered in Fall 2020 to new and returning students is now available at rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus/delivery-methods.

The College has developed a new Flexible Online Delivery Model to ensure Red River College continues to provide the highest standard of learning while also meeting the requirement for physical distancing caused by COVID-19.

This model will also allow for the delivery of hands-on learning where it is deemed essential. Our fall term will be proceeding under these guidelines. Please see our updated website for more information on a program by program basis.

As always, stay up to date on our plans for re-entry by visiting rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus.

Where’s Watson? Re-Entry Planning

June 30, 2020

Dr. Christine Watson, Interim President and CEO, hosts a regular video series where she shares a behind-the-scenes look at what she’s up to on and off campus.

In today’s “Where’s Watson” video, Christine is joined by Jodi Pluchinski, Directory of Safety and Health Services and Mike Krywry, Research Manager, Institutional Analysis & Planning.

Jodi and Mike are both helping lead teams through our four phases of re-entry. Together, they talk about Red River College’s readiness as we slowly begin to resume activities on campus:

Learn more about our re-entry plans by visiting rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus

Watch our webinar about re-entry on July 14

June 26, 2020

Join us as we discuss our plans for re-entry, and share what you can expect to see when you return to campus. This webinar is live and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you submit virtually.

Date: Tuesday, July 14
Time: 11 a.m. to noon
Location: Online by clicking http://live.etvlabs.com

Watch for more info on Where’s Watson

Dr. Christine Watson, Interim President and CEO, will also be interviewing subject matter experts at the College about our re-entry plans. Watch for this special “Where’s Watson” video next week.

Learn more about our re-entry plans by visiting rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus

What to expect when you return to campus

June 25, 2020

As we advance through Phase 1 of our campus re-entry, a very limited number of staff and students may be returning to campus for catch-up teaching and learning, or to provide essential services.

Important Reminder: If you are permitted to teach, learn or work at any of our campuses, you must follow the steps outlined on our Before You Return to Campus guide.

As you walk throughout campus, you may notice the following physical distancing measures in place to help keep you safe:

SIGNAGE

Posters with messaging such as “Please wait here” will be posted around campus near washrooms, elevators, microwaves, etc.

FLOOR MARKERS

Floor markers are placed six feet apart to comply with public health requirements. Please watch for these markers as you approach service desks, bathrooms, elevators, classrooms, etc.

PHYSICAL BARRIERS

In some spaces, you will encounter barriers similar to those you may have seen in grocery stores or banks. Please follow any directions provided by staff when you approach a service window.

CAUTION TAPE

Caution tape has been used to mark off common areas and classrooms with restricted access or seating throughout the College. These areas have been deep cleaned and cannot be used at this time.

These and other measures, including hand sanitizers throughout our buildings and near front entrances, are being installed now and will be in place by July 15, when we begin Phase 2.

COVID-19 is still present and we still need to take precautions to reduce our risk of contracting and spreading the virus. These measures have been put in place to enforce physical distancing and help maintain the cleanliness of campuses.

We are updating our Return to Campus webpage with important information about our phased re-entry on a regular basis — please check back often.

Update: Returning to Campus

June 19, 2020

Based on the latest guidance from public health authorities, Red River College is moving forward with plans to return programs and services to our campuses on a very limited basis.

Find out more about the phases of our return, which programs and services will return to campus in which phase, and the guides you need to follow if you’re returning to campus, at rrc.ca/coronavirus/return-to-campus.

RRC is currently progressing through Phase 1 of our re-entry plan. Phase 1, which continues until July 15, focuses on resuming very limited, essential hands-on learning and industry training for students who are close to graduation.

For example, a cohort of international Health Care Aide students will return to the Notre Dame Campus in late June to complete skills training to be eligible for July practicum placements in order retain their Visa status. Some aviation industry training has already resumed at our Stevenson campus.

These limited activities will help us test and fine-tune our processes and procedures as we prepare to welcome back more staff and students for catch-up learning in later phases, leading up to our full return in Phase 4.

As part of Phase 1, we are reaching out to students and academic programs to determine their availability for catch-up training that could take place in Phase 2, and with operational areas to determine what phase they will be able to resume on-campus service and delivery. We’ll share more information with you as it becomes available.

Additional Phase 1 Highlights

  • Campuses remain restricted to essential services only
  • No more than 25% of our staff and students will be allowed on campus at any time. (Please note: This figure is based on campus-wide population; actual in-class numbers will vary depending on size of room or lab.)
  • The majority of College employees will continue to work from home
  • All staff and students returning to campuses will follow strict physical distancing guidelines
  • Most academic programs will continue to be delivered online into Fall 2020 and beyond

We expect later phases to begin on the following dates:

  • Phase 2: July 15, 2020
  • Phase 3: August 31, 2020
  • Phase 4: January 1, 2021