Back to school week at Dawson
The big welcome sign was hung in the Atrium to welcome new and returning students for the first week of classes that began Aug. 31. However, it was a back-to-school week different from any other in the last half century of Dawson College.
Mostly online this semester
Most students were at home online to begin the semester and many will remain online. About 500-800 students came to the campus each day over the first week to attend class, visit the Bookstore or receive services. Student visits were spread out over the day and throughout the College. The Bookstore alone counted 1,400 student visits over the week.
There are 8,587 students enrolled in the day division for the Fall 2020 semester, according to Academic Dean Diane Gauvin. This is 400 more than projected because students who failed last semester (during the COVID-19 shutdown) were allowed to return this fall.
Shorter semester with a one-week break
It will be a slightly shorter semester with a week off classes after Thanksgiving, the week of Oct. 12. The Academic Calendar was revised in August. Classes now end Dec. 14 and the semester ends Dec. 23.
Director General Richard Filion said that the core concern of the College is to preserve the health and safety of students and employees. “We want to give students and employees access to the College without jeopardizing their well-being,” he said. “Activities at the College will increase over time as long as the health situation improves.”
The Director General is monitoring on-site activities on campuses in North America and said that Dawson must continue to be very prudent.
Regular contact with Public Health authorities
The College is in regular communication with the Direction régionale de la santé publique de Montréal to ensure a safe environment for all.
A Steering Committee chaired by Finance Director Glenys Ronnie was formed to oversee and manage the challenges related to COVID-19. An infection prevention and control plan is in place and the College has named Jason Annahatak, Coordinator of Student Services, as the public health agent for the College.
Selected activities for in-person learning
All students in the Social Science and Business Technologies programs are online and only a minority of students in Science, Medical Studies and Engineering and Creative and Applied Arts programs, mostly technical, are on campus this semester. These students are coming in for particular in-person learning activities. Overall, the planning and implementation of hybrid and online learning seek to ensure equity between students and preserve academic integrity.
Assistant Dean of Science, Medical Studies and Engineering Maxwell Jones said that departments and teachers recommended what needs to be in-person learning in consultation with the College administration, as well as clinical placement partners and provincial and national accreditation bodies.
“Science students in Chemistry courses are coming in for some classes in laboratories over the course of the semester,” he said. “Students in Medical and Engineering technical programs will have semi-regular presence throughout the semester, as many of their competencies are difficult – if not impossible – to address in an online environment.”
Arts students taking courses with intense studio/lab/shop components will also be coming in. These courses are in Industrial Design, Visual Arts, Professional Theatre (Acting), Professional Photography, and Arts, Literature and Communication (Cinema-Communications).
Assistant Dean of Creative and Applied Arts Wolfgang Krotter said that “the pedagogical goals are hands-on work and overall in-person and team experience, especially for the first-year students.” It is also safer for students to use machines, tools and other equipment for the first time under qualified supervision.
Maintaining a safe environment
“Our hope is that the semester can continue as planned,” said Director General Richard Filion. “We are ready to revert to online learning and working if we must. Meanwhile, we are doing everything possible to maintain a safe environment. It is also up to all our students and employees to respect the health and hygiene protocols so that the risk of infection is minimized.”