As students return to in-person classes at Algonquin College this September, they will find a lot more campus services, from food options to events, are once again open for business. After two-and-a-half years of pandemic restrictions and online learning, the re-opening is welcome to students and employees.
“It was pretty quiet for my first two semesters here,” said Radio Broadcasting student Ryan Lutton. “The cafe was barely open. I’ve noticed that half the cafeteria isn’t open now, like the Taste of Asia place. It’s going to be great when food services come back, and when the Booster Juice finally opens up again.”
But Lutton and others also wonder if more people and activities on campus will cause a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“I know cases are rising again, which has me worried, but at the same time, I’m in an industry where I need to work face-to-face with people,” said Lutton. In radio, where you’re out at events and stuff, if you’re not interacting with people, you’re not doing the job properly. I’m ready for people to come back. I think that precautions are still not hard as they used to be, but people are also pretty tired.”
Studies have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected students’ physical, social, psychological, and developmental health, due to a lack of social interactions with their peers and teachers. Returning to in-person classes is seen as a positive move, but some students may have difficulties adjusting to being with peers on campus after so much time.
Aurore Athanasie, a student in the Practical Nursing program, said, “having access to more classes in person means a lot because we need the physical training, and also to have direct help.” She also sees the challenges of going back to campus too. “I’ve adjusted my whole life to virtual classes, it’s more useful for me to have a hybrid because it is difficult to make the transition so quickly from virtual to in-person. We are also working, we’re full-time students and part-time workers. With the working aspect of your life, having the hybrid sessions helps you organize yourself better. Right now I think it is too soon to go full in-person, but I am excited to see people again.”
Camille Millar, another Practical Nursing student, said “At some point, I will adjust. Before COVID, we all did go to places, very crowded places and somehow I will be okay with that. It will take some time.”
According to the college’s most recent statement on COVID-19 safety measures: “If a heightened risk to health and safety for employees and learners is indicated by local public health experts, the College could reimplement any or all of the previous protocols and safeguards. Any changes to the College’s direction on this matter will be communicated directly with employees and learners.”