Royal Roads University plans fall return to in-person classes

Royal Roads University is hoping to open its campus to students again in September, joining Camosun College, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University with tentative fall reopenings.

RRU said Thursday the opening plan will align with vaccination coverage and public health orders.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has indicated that a return to on-campus learning can be undertaken safely by September. Current vaccination projections suggest the majority of adults, including those between ages 18 and 24, will be immunized by late July.

In a recent message to universities, Henry noted concerns about the well-being of young adults “disproportionally affected by the pandemic,” including worsening mental health, increased financial instability and diminishing future prospects.

RRU president Philip Steenkamp said Thursday personal interactions are important for students and faculty.

“Our beautiful campus is a source of great inspiration for our community,” he said. “It is made that much more vibrant when students, staff and faculty are here to interact in person.”

Veronica Thompson, the university’s provost and vice-president academic, said that while Royal Roads — which regularly delivers many of its courses online — quickly and easily transitioned to full online learning last March, “we recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on students.”

“We are looking forward to the days when we can see our classrooms active again and enrich student experiences with on-campus programs.”

COVID-19 safety protocols are in place at RRU, including hand sanitizer stations, increased cleaning, new signage, plexiglass barriers where necessary and upgraded ventilation.

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