Blend of virtual and in-person learning to continue at NAIT this winter

“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our students”

NAIT will continue to limit activity on campus this winter by emphasizing virtual learning and student services wherever possible.

Dr. Sue Fitzsimmons, vice-president academic and provost, says that reducing the number of people on campus will help lessen the risk of COVID-19 infection, in keeping with provincial direction. The decision was made earlier this year as part of the polytechnic’s relaunch strategy and reaffirmed in a communication to all students on Oct. 1.

NAIT closed its campuses last March when the pandemic forced shutdowns across sectors, including post-secondary. A gradual and phased relaunch saw the polytechnic focus on a blend of virtual and in-person learning this past fall. Many student services such as counselling, the Student Service Centre, advising and learning services also moved to virtual spaces.

Sue Fitzsimmons, NAIT vice-president academic and provostThis blend will continue for the winter term, Fitzsimmons said.

“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, staff and the broader community,” she said.

“Across NAIT, we are working hard to safely provide the high-quality polytechnic education we are known for, while keeping our on-campus attendance as low as possible.”

Programs will communicate with students in the next week about how learning will be delivered this winter and for next steps on enrolment, she said.

For fall term, 41% of degree, diploma and certificate programs have gone fully virtual, with the rest, 59%, using a blend of online classes and in-person labs or shops. For the skilled trades, 96% programs are blended, with the Parts Technician program being fully virtual.

While those numbers could change slightly for winter, the emphasis on virtual has seen NAIT’s on-campus population drop to about 5,900 students and staff per week – down from 15,800 in fall 2019.

“We recognize that we may need to adjust our approach as circumstances evolve,” Fitzsimmons said. “NAIT is well-positioned to respond as needed. No matter what changes, we remain committed to keeping our students safe and providing them with the unique polytechnic learning they came to NAIT for.”

“Lean on others in the NAIT community”

Fitzsimmons said NAIT will continue to monitor and adjust its approach as circumstances evolve, such as a second wave of the pandemic. Given the adjustment and uncertainty everyone is dealing with at school and in their personal lives, she said it’s important to lean on each other.

“Focus on connection, not perfection. Celebrate what’s working.”

“Focus on connection, not perfection. Celebrate what’s working. Lean on others in the NAIT community and seek the support you need,” she said. “And, please, stay safe and take care of yourself and those around you.”

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