#collegesafety | College officials urge safety over Thanksgiving long weekend

‘We understand the draw, but we are encouraging students to stay put if they can,’ says Georgian’s dean of students, noting 70% of students are studying remotely

Georgian College students living on-campus are being encouraged to eat their turkey in their residences this weekend.

While the college has seen a 9.2 per cent decline in enrolment this year, which has trickled down to a significant reduction in students living on-campus, college officials are hoping students will stay safe over the long weekend.

“For many students, especially if it’s their first year, it’s their first time away from home. It is the time of year where students want to go home to see their families and enjoy a nice home-cooked meal, so we understand the draw, but we are encouraging students to stay put if they can,” said Brian Muscat, dean of students at the college.

“If they do choose to go home (we encourage) them to do it safely in very small bubbles of people, and avoiding public transportation if possible. Wear your face masks and wash your hands,” he added.

According to Muscat, the Barrie campus is currently housing 221 students in college residences, compared to 518 last year.

The Orillia campus is currently housing 126 students in residences, compared to 192 last year.

Muscat said the college has protocols in place in the event that a student needs to quarantine while in residences due to a positive COVID test.

“We can move them into an area to keep them isolated,” he said.

Overall, Muscat said 70 per cent of students are studying remotely, with 30 per cent remaining on-campus.

“Last year, we pretty much had 100 per cent of students on campus. There were some courses delivered online, but not full programs by any means,” said Muscat.

Muscat said overall enrolment at the college is down about 9.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. About 9,400 students are attending both domestic and internationally across all seven Georgian campuses.

“Overall things are going well. We did the summer semester using this hybrid model and it wrapped up well. We certainly learned a lot over that period of time.

Due to changes in federal legislation, Muscat said many of this year’s international students are able to study remotely from their home countries.

“Given the pandemic, we’re very happy with those numbers. Students are engaging with their education,” said Muscat.

“It’s becoming the new normal. We’re adapting and adjusting,” he said.

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