October 3, 2022
Sreevalsan Nair, Conestoga College student, enrolled in the Applied Network Infrastructure and System Administration program. Photo submitted by Nair.

Conestoga College has pushed back the long-awaited return to campus once again. Many students won’t return until March 7. While some students believe the delay is for the best, others say a return to campus is long overdue. 

Sreevalsan Nair, a Conestoga College student currently enrolled in the Applied Network Infrastructure and System Administration Program, said he was looking forward to returning to campus.

“I would like to explore and understand more about Conestoga College. I would like to meet my classmates and faculty,” Nair said. 

For some students, the pandemic has made for a challenging obstacle on the route towards their futures, and the potential return to campus was a welcomed change. 

Despite the disappointment, with the fast-spreading variant of concern Omicron in the region, many students felt the delay was likely inevitable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

With COVID-19 variants continuing to spread throughout the region and hospitals fighting to meet the growing need for care, pushing to get back to the classroom now feels counterproductive.

According to the Waterloo Region COVID-19 Summary on Jan. 24, there were 2,708 active cases and 78 active outbreaks in Waterloo Region. 

All COVID-19 cases reported by date in Waterloo Region. Chart from Waterloo Region COVID-19 Summary.

There are currently 146 COVID-positive people in hospitals across the region, with 25 receiving care in an intensive care unit (ICU).

A Jan. 20 statement from Grand River Hospital president and CEO Ron Gagnon said: “today, we are facing an unprecedented level of pressure across our hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve added 146 additional beds, and today, all but one, a remaining bed in our critical care, is filled.”

“We are now at the point where we may need to start transferring patients out of our hospital for care, and it’s a point we never wanted to reach,” Gagnon said. 

As a second-year journalism student at Conestoga College who has yet to step foot on campus, I understand the desire to get the most out of the college experience, but after spending more than three semesters learning online to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the decision to delay the return to campus now seems to be the only suitable option. 

But, while some students like myself agree with the delay, the added month of isolation is discouraging for many.

Chidimma Chidolue, a Conestoga College student, enrolled in the Applied Network Infrastructure and System Administration program. Photo submitted by Chidolue.

Chidimma Chidolue, a Conestoga College student enrolled in the Applied Network Infrastructure and System Administration Program, said: “as an international student, I would like to experience in-person classes in this country.”

“I would like to have my course practicals in class, especially for courses dealing with computer networking and troubleshooting. I really would love to see this physically done before I graduate.”

statement from Conestoga College regarding the delayed return to campus said: 

“For most hybrid programs, the return to campus will begin the week of March 7. As a result of essential learning experiences that can only occur on campus, some hybrid programs will resume in-person and on-campus learning activities beginning the week or Jan. 31 or Feb. 7.”

Students looking for updates on Conestoga College’s Winter 2022 Academic Delivery Plan and the return to campus can go to https://www.conestogac.on.ca/covid-19/academic-delivery-plan

Despite the fact that many students are looking forward to returning to campus, the health and safety of individuals in our community should always come first.

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