Top Ten

April 1, 2020

ON distributes $25M, defers OSAP payments, partners with eCampusOntario

The Government of Ontario has announced that it is temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans and making online learning supports available to postsecondary institutions. All loan repayments will be subject to a six-month interest-free moratorium until September 30th. The province has also partnered with eCampusOntario to provide postsecondary institutions with interim digital learning supports in English and French that will help deliver year-end assessments. ON has additionally announced the distribution of $25M in additional funding to public colleges, universities, and Indigenous institutes to address needs such as deep cleaning, mental health supports, and health supplies in the wake of the outbreak. ON

Cégeps transition to online learning

Cégeps have launched online learning after the Government of Québec introduced relaxed rules regarding the maximum number of students who can study remotely. According to QC, rather than giving a final numerical mark, teachers may decide to grant an "equivalence" indicating that the objectives of the course will have been achieved. Students who are in difficult situations may also drop a course at any time, and if closures extend beyond May 1st, students will not have to complete the uniform examination in French in order to graduate. Regarding the shift to online learning, Dawson College Academic Dean Diane Gauvin said “it’s been intense. Teachers have to completely re-organize their courses and the way they are delivered [and] we’re asking departments to be extremely creative in replacing certain learning activities that can no longer take place.” Journal de Montréal | Montréal Gazette

URegina, Humber raise funds to support students during COVID-19

Institutions are continuing to collect funds to support students following the campus closures due to COVID-19. The University of Regina has moved in-person funding initiatives and events online. “Due to COVID-19, so many of our hardworking students – some of whom hold down not just one, but several part-time jobs – have had their hours cut or no longer have those jobs to go to at all,” explains URegina President Vianne Timmons. Humber College’s IGNITE student union has established a $250K fund designed to ease financial burdens created by the worldwide health crisis. “They shouldn't have to worry about wondering where rent will come from, or if they'll have money for breakfast,” said University of Guelph-Humber IGNTIRE director Megan Roopnarinem. URegina | Humber

Territories announce pause on student loan payments

The Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Nunavut have announced the suspension of the repayment of all territory student loans. For NWT students, loan payments will be suspended until September 30th, during which time no interest will be accrued and all pre-authorized debits, scheduled credit card payments, along with any post-dated cheques will not be processed. NV said that all student loan repayments will be suspended for the next six months. The Government of the Yukon stated that it approves student loans for YK students on behalf of the federal government, and that the federal government has issued a moratorium on its student loan payment program. CBC

Retaining a zest for teaching amid the switch to online learning: Opinion

“It’s only natural that folks will start to feel discouraged, disillusioned, and even grief-stricken once the initial frenzy of pivoting online has died down and the reality of remote instruction [sinks in],” writes Flower Darby. As an experienced online instructor, Darby notes that digital teaching can feel detached, remote, and impersonal. In order to recover their zest for teaching amid today’s uncertainty, Darby offers five tips: don’t ignore one’s feelings; pause to reflect on what’s gone well and what hasn’t; incorporate more engaging technology; interact with students more; and be kind to yourself. “It’s a weird world we’re living in,” concludes the author. “We can be kind to one another amid all the crazy.” Chronicle of Higher Ed

Contest launched for free tuition toward health care program at Okanagan

Local businessman and philanthropist has launched a contest giving residents of the community an opportunity to win free tuition at Okanagan College toward a career in health care. The contest, called Wishin for Tuition, gives winners up to $5,000 toward their tuition to one of 10 select programs at Okanagan, including Nursing, Early Childhood Education and Pharmacy Technician. The contest, which was set up prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, comes from philanthropist Tom Budd. “Tom’s gift is timely,” said Okanagan Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman. “Now more than ever we need quality health care professionals to care for our community.” Okanagan

Trent offers temporary housing for local frontline medical professionals

Trent University is working with the Peterborough Regional Health Centre to provide temporary housing options for healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trent was approached by PRHC early last week about the possibility of using residences to temporarily house hospital staff who choose to self-isolate from their families while caring for patients. Trent has offered the Gzowski College residence for these purposes, and the hospital will look after cleaning and sanitation. “All decisions will remain guided by our values of maintaining the health and safety of our campus community,” notes Trent Vice-President, External Relations and Advancement Julie Davis. “The wellness of our students, faculty and staff, remain paramount as we support our broader community throughout these times.” Trent

Carleton prof creates guide for receiving government aid amid COVID-19

A Carleton University professor has launched a plain language guide to help those trying to access government programs and aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The people who are experts on these programs inside government, see the information they’re putting out and they think it’s clear,” explains Carleton Professor Jennifer Robson. “But they are seeing it as experts as opposed to lay people who don’t normally have to think about these things and who are stressed.” Robson’s translation of government documents and instructions is posted online with straightforward instructions on how to apply for things like Employment Insurance, Caregiver Benefits, rent subsidies, and others. Sudbury Star

Carlton Trail publishes report on local labour market needs

Carlton Trail College has released a regionalized labour market information report for the east-central Saskatchewan region. Employers from the region were asked about their current and projected human resource needs, the demographics of their workforce, recruitment strategies and challenges, as well as their perspective on candidate skills, education, and training. The report found that seven of Saskatchewan’s top 10 occupational groups are forecasting labour shortages in areas that are vital to regional industries, and 43% of regional employers anticipate a skills shortage in their industry over the next three-to-five years. “It’s important to remember this is just a snapshot,” said Carlton Trail Business and Skills Training Manager Deanna Gaetz. “Even though we anticipate demand for skilled labour to remain strong over the long term, with our current economic uncertainty, we don’t know how industries will adapt.” Carlton Trail

Fleming launches a student help line to provide virtual support

Fleming College has launched a Student Help Line to provide students with immediate virtual support. Students who call the line will be connected to a Fleming employee who triages questions, provides support, and refers them appropriately. The college will also host two virtual student drop-in sessions for students who want to share experiences and concerns during the outbreak. “As a public educational institution,” stated Fleming, “the primary focus during the COVID-19 outbreak is the health and safety of the communities we serve.” Fleming