OTTERBURNE, MB – Providence is encouraged about student enrollment this fall semester. With many international students unable to travel to Canada to study, and concerns around the spread of the pandemic, it was anticipated that our enrollment numbers would be down at the start of this semester. But, that’s not the case.
“We welcomed 442 students in both the University College and Seminary this Fall which is consistent with last year’s student numbers,” says Provost and Vice President Academic, Cameron McKenzie.
“Much of this is down to the exceptional work done by our enrollment and athletics staff, who worked very hard under challenging circumstances to recruit a great first-year class,” McKenzie added.
Although we don’t have the same number of international students this year, an increase in domestic students has kept our school population steady. Most of our undergraduates have chosen to take classes in-person on the Otterburne campus, with about 20% of them opting for online classes only. And many of our seminary students are working professionals and they continue to take their courses in various distance formats including online, hybrid and modular deliveries.
Our student residences are operating at half capacity which means we’re only offering single room occupancy to better accommodate government mandates for social and physical distancing. Right now, we have 115 students living on-campus.
Over the summer months, we’ve worked hard to create a safe and healthy learning (and working) environment for our Providence community. Masks are mandatory in all indoor campus spaces. We’ve prioritized physically distancing by reducing in-person class sizes, and reorganizing seating in all our gathering spaces such as chapels and the cafeteria. Directional signs are strategically placed in hallways and on stairways. Students, faculty and staff have all signed an agreement to follow health and safety guidelines set in place.
To limit the number of people on our campus, Providence remains closed to the general public. (Anyone wishing to come to campus for specific, institutional business should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-433-7488 to inquire before their arrival.)
“We’re thankful for a good and positive start to the 2020/21 academic year,” shares Samantha Groenendijk, Vice President of External Relations. “We remain optimistic that our community will continue to work together to ensure a safe and healthy environment, and a successful year as students learn and study in and out of the classroom.”
Groenendijk re-emphasizes that the best way for a community to keep COVID-19 off our campus is if everyone continues to follow the four fundamentals.
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Wear a mask
- Keep your physical distance
- Practice regular handwashing
Even though all educational institutes are facing the same challenges of implementing Public Health protocols that have become necessary to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus, Providence is largely encouraged by students’ responses to the precautions set in place. Small classroom sizes on 100-acres of rural, prairie land may help us in the long run. It’s too early to say. There are too many factors at play. But our prayer is that, with all our COVID-19 safeguards in place, our Otterburne campus will remain safe and open for ‘business as usual’ throughout this academic year.