This article was published on: January 5th, 2022

As we return from what I hope was a restful, enjoyable – and healthy – holiday break for all of you, I am writing to provide important updates for our Winter 2022 term. 

The sharp rise in COVID case counts, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, has brought new time-limited measures from the Ontario government designed to slow the spread of the virus. Current and projected trends require us to adapt our operations once again as we prioritize the safety of our learning environment and workplace, while ensuring that students have the opportunity to achieve the learning outcomes in their programs – including essential and required practical elements. 

Prior to the break, we announced the temporary shift of some program elements to online delivery until January 28. Given the latest data and projections provided by government, and to ensure students and employees have as much certainty as possible for the start of term, this change in delivery has been extended to February 25, which is the last day of classes before the mid-term break. While we are hopeful that the second half of the term will allow for an increase in on-campus learning, that decision will depend on the available data and government and public health guidance and direction at the time. 

Practical labs and essential program elements that can’t be completed remotely will continue to be delivered on-campus as planned with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health and safety measures in place. 

Delivery modes for all courses are posted to the College website. Students, please visit the Winter Term page on the Return to Campus website to see the delivery mode of your classes and watch for any additional updates from your program area, or via Blackboard. 

In accordance with provincial direction for remote work, we anticipate a higher number of employees to be working partially or fully remotely until the mid-term break, depending on operational requirements to support delivery and in-person services for on-campus program elements. 

Our masking policy has been updated to require medical-grade masks, which will be available at all access points starting next week. Our daily online screening tool has been updated and will continue to be in place, and food services and cafeterias will be temporarily closed. 

The Learning Commons at both campuses will remain open for students with appropriate health and safety measures in place, including masking and distancing. 

I want to remind all students and employees of significant changes that have been made by the government and public health regarding testing and isolation. PCR and rapid testing have been prioritized for specific groups and members of the general public with mild symptoms are asked not to seek testing. If you have symptoms or live with someone who is symptomatic or tests positive, assume you are positive and isolate. The province has also changed the isolation period to five days after the onset of symptoms for individuals who are fully vaccinated, as well as children under 12. Please stay informed and follow public health guidance regarding testing, isolation and self-monitoring. 

Additionally, as the province expands eligibility and availability of COVID boosters, I strongly encourage you to contribute to the safety of our college and our community by getting your booster shot. 

We will continue to provide regular updates as new information becomes available; please be sure to monitor the college website and social media channels regularly. 

While the start of the Winter Term is not what we had envisioned a few months ago, these changes are temporary and important steps in ensuring our safety. Despite the current challenges I am optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for NC and 2022 and beyond as we launch our exciting new strategic plan. I also remain deeply grateful for the ongoing resilience and shared commitment to student success of our caring and extraordinary college community.