In light of the recent announcement regarding the continuance of online learning, the Students’ Association of Red Deer Polytechnic has decided to release their thoughts on the matter. We realize that this decision has not been made lightly and was made with the best interests of the health and wellbeing of the entire campus community. We have been listening to all sides of the issue and are bringing the student perspective to the senior administrators to ensure that the best decisions for the Red Deer Polytechnic community are being made.
We are disappointed to hear that online delivery has only been extended to February 27th for several reasons. Following the announcement on Tuesday, January 18, I met with the President and Chief of Staff to discuss the decision. Though we agree that the decision was made in the best interests of everyone’s health and safety, we do not feel it’s fair to ask students to make accommodations for only five weeks of the term. Taking a “half-in half-out” approach does not set our students or faculty up for success. Additionally, many students have already prepared to be in person for January 24th and have planned for residence and parking. Asking them to push back their planning another month less than a week before their expected return is unfair, especially with the fluid nature of COVID-19. The possibility that we’ll be extended online for the full term come mid-February is something that hangs above us all, given the transmissibility of the Omicron variant. Pushing back the decision does not give students much of an option other than to continue waiting it out.
We realize that a lot of individuals want to be in-person. That being said, we also realize that there are a lot of individuals who are hesitant to return to campus at all given the nature of the Omicron variant. The Students’ Association believes wholeheartedly in the science surrounding COVID-19 and is very cognizant of the threat that the Omicron variant presents to our community. Our faculty need to be kept in mind; A lot of our faculty are of the demographic that is most at-risk of Covid-related complications. If faculty are catching COVID-19 and are having to take time off to recover, this severely impacts the student experience and may result in programs having to extend their terms, costing even more in time and money to the students. Being online is the best way to ensure that faculty can teach their classes and stay healthy and continue to ensure student success.
We’d like to mention a few Covid-related wins that the SA has negotiated on behalf of the RDP community. We advocated for a vaccine clinic to be on campus for students to easily get their shots. We advocated for free rapid tests to be available for those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated so that they are not missing out on classes while still ensuring the safety of everyone involved. Additionally, we advocated for the extension of rapid testing acceptance as an alternative form to vaccination so that students could complete their education at RDP. We have not been silent bystanders on the issue of COVID-19. We are committed to helping the institution reach the best decision for all parties involved. That being said, no decision made on behalf of others will please everyone.
In light of this, we have a few asks to make of our administrators on behalf of the students. First, another extension of the add/drop date should be implemented to allow for those students who do not wish to continue their education at RDP to receive a refund of their tuition. We understand that some may want to wait for calmer times to undertake their education. These past two years have been turbulent for everyone, and a lot of individuals are experiencing adjustment disorder and burnout. Second, students who have paid for parking for the month of February and are not accessing campus should have the option of applying for a refund. Students wishing to explore this option should reach out to [email protected]. Lastly, the SA implores the institution to advocate to the government for access to rapid tests to continue the rapid testing service on campus if we are to return to in-person learning on February 28th. If K-12 are able to access rapid tests, so should the rest of Alberta’s education system.
Thank you to everyone who has voiced their concerns and been respectful of the rapidly evolving situation at hand. We are listening to all sides of the story. We are trying our best. For students that are on our Health and Dental Plan, I’d like to remind you that we have a 24/7 counselling service through Inkblot, which you can access on MyWellness. Coverage is at 100% with $1,000 available for the full year; with sessions on Inkblot priced at a maximum of $70 you should be able to access this service as much as you need to. Additionally, Counselling Services at RDP are still open and walk-in Wednesdays are resuming next week. You can reach out to [email protected] to book an appointment. Please take care of your physical and mental health in these difficult times. We care about all of you and want to make sure that we are doing our best to ensure your success and safety.
President, Students’ Association of Red Deer Polytechnic
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For inquiries, please contact us at [email protected].