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Safety top priority as College prepares for students, staff to return to campuses

August 5, 2020

With the Fall 2020 academic term just around the corner, Red River College offered an on-campus preview today of what students can expect when they return to school next month.

Attended by the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, today’s media tour showcased a number of applied learning activities currently taking place on the Notre Dame Campus, and highlighted new measures the College is taking to protect the safety of an increasing number of students and staff coming back to school.

RRC President Fred Meier says the College’s response to COVID-19 — and the quick pivot to online and blended learning this past spring — has positioned RRC to continue to meet industry needs and help drive Manitoba’s economic recovery.

“COVID-19 has handed our province an unprecedented set of challenges to overcome. I continue to be impressed by how organizations across all sectors have found innovative ways to meet those challenges head-on,” says Eichler (shown above, at left). “Red River College adapted quickly to support its students, made valuable contributions to our community efforts against COVID-19, and — thanks to hard work — prepared itself to play a vital role in Manitoba’s economic recovery.”

The tour provided a look at the catch-up, hands-on training currently underway at RRC’s Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, along with its Indigenous Culinary Skills, Dentistry and level four Carpentry programs, and a tour and demonstration by students in the new Medical Radiologic Technology lab.

While the majority of catch-up training is happening at the Notre Dame Campus, Culinary Arts students are equally busy at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. Earlier this summer, a number of the College’s regional campuses welcomed students back to complete hands-on learning to wrap up their studies, as well.

“Although we’ve been working incredibly hard since March to deliver our programs online, we’re very excited to have people moving through our halls, our labs, our offices and classrooms again,” says Meier (shown above, at right). “As Manitobans, we have managed the impacts of COVID-19 better than many other regions, and that — along with the tremendous leadership and hard work of our employees — has made it possible for us to continue preparing students for careers in industries that will need their knowledge and skills more than ever.”

Fred Meier, Hon. Ralph Eichler, tour RRC's Notre Dame Campus Earlier this summer, the College implemented its re-entry plan, which allowed for testing and evaluation of health and safety measures prior to the fall term. Those measures include physical barriers, occupancy and traffic flow assessments, reduced class sizes, an increase in hygiene stations, and markers and signage designed to ensure physical distancing in all spaces, including hallways, classrooms, labs, offices and workshops.

In addition, the College redeveloped its academic schedule to allow for hands-on and blended learning throughout the summer and into the fall academic term. These changes have allowed students to attend through a staggered approach, and this fall will also include evening classes for students in the Bachelor of Nursing program.

“Our students and industry partners depend on hands-on learning to hone and prove technical skills in a lab, workshop or classroom,” says Meier. “In spite of COVID-19, we’ve worked hard to continue to prepare our students for careers in industry, and it’s great to see hands-on learning and research continue on our campuses.”

When COVID-19 struck in March, RRC transitioned its programs to online delivery, ensuring students continued to receive high-quality educations and training, in spite of disruptions caused by the pandemic. The College then developed a flexible online delivery model — a set of rigorous standards, guidelines and resources designed to ensure the highest quality educational experience for students learning online, on campus, or both.

This new model will support the delivery for RRC programs, this fall and beyond.

The College expects to welcome more than 46 per cent of its students to campus for the fall term, starting Aug. 31. All of RRC’s apprenticeship students will also return, but in staggered cohorts to meet physical distancing requirements. Approximately 60 of the College’s full-time programs will be offered via blended delivery, with 80 delivered online.