Based on the current public health information regarding COVID-19, Aurora College is planning to extend online learning for most programs until Friday, February 18 and resume all face-to-face programming at campuses and Community Learning Centres by Monday, February 21.

While online learning will be extended, we will be gradually transitioning students and programs back into face-to-face learning during the two-week period of Monday, February 7 to Friday, February 18. Our goal is to have all face-to-face programming restored as of February 21.

Instructors will be connecting with students about whether courses will be face-to-face or online for the period of February 7 to February 18. If you do not receive instructions to be on campus or at a CLC for your course(s), assume that they will be delivered online during that time. Your instructor will let you know if anything changes with how your course(s) will be delivered.

A number of programs or courses have already received approval to be delivered face-to-face. This includes certain skills labs in Health, Trades and ENRTP.  For new ALBE students joining us for the first time in the winter semester from either a campus or a Community Learning Centre, program orientations will begin to take place on Monday February 7, 2022, through online and some limited in-person activities.

The decision to extend online learning has been a difficult one, as we are aware of people’s concerns and feelings with the current environment. We understand that everyone is tired from the many restrictions and challenges placed upon you and your families due to the pandemic. However, our number one priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, employees, families and communities and we believe this approach is in the best interest of all members of the College community.

Omicron’s high transmission rate has resulted in a higher percentage of students and employees becoming ill or being in isolation at the same time. We are concerned with the impact this could have on student learning and learning outcomes if more instructors are unable to teach or more students unable to attend classes for extended periods of time. We believe that this gradual approach to returning students to our facilities will allow us to return to face-to-face learning while keeping members of the College community safe.

Library Services will continue to provide contactless delivery of materials and services. Students and employees will be unable to physically access the libraries during this time. There have been some exception plans approved to access library resources and those will continue through this extended period.

The restrictions, processes and rules we have in place help make our facilities safer. However, as individuals we must remain cautious, conduct our own risk assessments, and continue to engage in healthy practices such as masking, cleaning personal workspaces, good hand hygiene and respiratory practices, and the use of physical distancing where appropriate.

If you are onsite at a campus or a CLC, please be aware that the entire NWT remains under a mandatory masking mandate for indoor public spaces, which includes all Aurora College facilities. Masks must be worn at all times in all public areas where you may encounter others, including foyer and entrance areas.  In compliance with Health Canada recommendations, Aurora College now requires the use of 3-layer non-medical masking as a minimum standard.  This includes 3-layer blue disposable or cloth masks or the 5-layer N95 or KN95 masks available commercially.  The use of neck warmers or less than three layer masks is now unacceptable at Aurora College facilities.

It is still possible for COVID-19 cases to occur and taking simple proactive measures like the ones mentioned here will help keep the risks low. If you have concerns regarding your mental or physical health during this transition, please speak with your instructor about your situation. 

If you aren’t feeling well, or have any symptoms of COVID, please stay home. Similarly, if you live with an individual who is not feeling well, please stay home. If you’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, we ask that you notify your instructor as soon as possible and follow the recommendations of the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

As always we will continue to update all members of the Aurora College when the situation changes or there is new information to share.

Thank you for your continuing patience; let’s stay safe and treat each other with kindness and compassion.

Andy Bevan