The provincial ombudsman has been asked to investigate Carleton University’s decision not to offer more face-to-face classes in the new year by a parent who says the school has provided little information on the situation.
The complaint from Carleton’s mother and Ottawa attorney Paula Clarke comes as frustrations are mounting with continuous online learning, which some schools have relied on, as others have returned to classes mostly in person. due to high COVID-19 vaccination rates on campus, mandatory use of indoor masking, and go-ahead from the provincial government.
“This is a public institution and these students, their parents and alumni owe answers,” Clarke said. “None of that is yet to come.”
Clarke’s son, a freshman biology student, doesn’t have in-person classes and it’s unclear what his winter term will be like. The university has said it will increase classes on campus to 50 percent, up from 30 percent today, but it has also said that students may have to wait until early January, just before the term begins, before meeting. the schedules.
Carleton spokesman Steven Reid said “back-to-school decisions are made with the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff as our top priority … as the pandemic continues. Developing, with the increase in COVID-19 cases, a new variant and with the province halting its opening plan, Carleton, like the other institutions in the Ottawa region, continues to adopt a safe and gradual approach to its return to the campus “.
Reid said that “our back-to-campus plan is aligned with public health recommendations to gradually increase capacity limits and ease physical distancing requirements at universities.”
Some students, however, are unhappy with the delay in returning to in-person learning, pointing to other colleges that have already successfully brought students to campus. They also say that Carleton did not do a good job communicating the upcoming changes.
“I feel like as a student, we should be able to do more in person with classes and scheduling” and events, and the student association is now pushing for a reduction in tuition given the limited opportunities on campus, said Valentina Vera González, vice president. of Student Affairs of the Carleton University Student Association.
The Carleton University Academic Staff Association has said that “students have reported a dramatic increase in courses that have been switched from a planned in-person delivery to an online one,” but the university says otherwise.
The association said it is “very concerned about any plan to increase the sections of face-to-face courses without the proper consultation of all the necessary bodies,” including the professors’ association and the university senate.
“If you had the right consultation, transparency would be experienced more naturally. It would avoid confusion and disappointment. It would also be a less jarring experience when decisions need to be made about how to keep everyone safe on campus, ”the association said in a post on its website.
While it cannot comment on specific complaints, the ombudsman’s office has said that those related to postsecondary institutions often focus on admissions, academic appeals, funding, and student services.
“In 2020-2021, the majority of post-secondary education in the province moved online due to COVID-19, and our staff helped hundreds of people navigate the impacts of this change,” said the ombudsman’s office at your annual report.
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