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UPDATE: UBCO explains blended learning options for fall

(UPDATE: Sept. 1 @ 5:25 pm): UBC Okanagan has provided a statement regarding the move from in-person to online learning for the human kinetics and nursing programs.

“In an effort to ensure an effective, inclusive learning environment, some programs and courses have decided to move more of their content online for a portion of the fall term.”

Lectures for the human kinetics and nursing programs have been moved to the online format in order to ‘redouble efforts’ for small in-person learning experiences including labs, seminars, study sessions, and practicums or placements.

Small face-to face learning experiences are critical components for a nursing or human kinetics degree.

“These programs work hand-in-hand with the health-care sector or other partners, and are particularly sensitive to the pressures that the pandemic has put on frontline workers and local communities. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, their families, as well as that of the communities with whom they work so closely, is paramount. This is especially true for those that are not eligible to be vaccinated.”

“This does not mean that all courses at UBC Okanagan will be offered online. Nor does it necessarily mean that all components of any given course will be online only. Approximately one quarter of UBCO courses are currently online or hybrid. And of those that are online, many are planning for increased in-person activities such as seminars or organized study groups. Most students should expect to engage and learn on campus even if some of their lectures are delivered virtually.”

“Other faculties and courses will be examining their specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis and will continue to do so. They have made adjustments to course delivery and may offer additional online options in the coming days. They will take many considerations into account, including student and faculty health accommodations, student travel, lecture size, course content, and student experience, among many others. Any changes will be communicated to affected students directly.”

“Faculties and instructors do not take these decisions lightly and in all cases, they are made in the best interests of fostering a learning environment that is most conducive to the overall success of our students.”

“UBC Okanagan is also conscious that the campus community has made preparations, and in some cases sacrifices, with the understanding that an in-person experience would be waiting for them in the fall.”

UBC has put in place additional financial supports this year for students experiencing financial hardship because of wildfires, COVID-19, or other factors. These funds totalling $565,000, are available to provide one-time support for students unable to cover the cost of living expenses related to on or off campus housing or food purchases, or for those facing unexpected and urgent costs.

Applications for this fund are open until September 30, to find out how to apply click here.

UBCO students are encouraged to contact their instructors directly for additional information about courses that may have shifted online. Faculty information can be found here.

(ORIGINAL STORY: August 31 @ 1:40 pm): While students are gearing up for what was expected to be a year of in-person classes for post secondary institutions, UBC Okanagan has changed some program delivery just weeks before classes begin.

With the promise of in-person learning, mask mandates in place and COVID-19 testing for all unvaccinated students, it raised the hopes of many students that a return to campus was inevitable.

That won’t necessarily be the case for all programs though, as on Aug. 27 an announcement was made that the Human Kinetics program for the Faculty of Health and Social Development at UBCO would be moved online.

</who>Photo credit: 123rf | Stock photo

While other programs are still still allowing students to attend in person, the disconnect within the university is alarming for some.

Renee Jardine, the parent of a Human Kinetics student, was upset to find out that her son would not be able to attend school on campus.

“If the entire university were online, we would understand but we find it unacceptable that this faculty has made the decision to not deliver in-person classes while all these safety measures are put in place,” said Jardine.

On Aug. 26, UBC declared it would be requiring all faculty, staff and students to receive COVID-19 tests if they have not yet been fully vaccinated.

“UBC will require COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty and staff, with exceptions provided for only those who can demonstrate and certify that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Santa J Ono, president and vice chancellor of UBC.

The school is working to align with the government on the BC Vaccine Card, but proof of vaccination is not required for educational activities such as attending classes, orientation activities or other post-secondary activities.

Jardine’s son has been fully vaccinated, but the sudden change to online has come across as unfair to the students trying to take all precautions.

“Mr. Ono has expressed his support of the vaccination passports, but if students can't even go back into the classroom after being vaccinated that might discourage students who have yet to be vaccinated,” said Jardine.

With students promised the return of in-person learning, many are now stuck with paying for parking passes and housing accommodation after moving to Kelowna for their education.

“I heard from two students today who will most likely drop out of their classes because they can't do another year online, especially when they know that other students are getting in-person classes and they are not.”

“It is just not fair and it does not make sense anymore. These students are paying the same amount of tuition but they will not be receiving the same quality of education,” said Jardine.

On Facebook, UBCO responded to criticisms from students and parents of the change with a single statement: “Decisions regarding academic delivery are made by each faculty. A number of factors are taken into consideration, and we encourage you to reach out directly to the Faculty of Health and Social Development with questions.”

NowMedia has reached out to UBCO but they have yet to make a comment.

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