Selkirk College President Angus Graeme says the College won’t be evicting students from its housing. File photo.

Selkirk College President Angus Graeme says the College won’t be evicting students from its housing. File photo.

Selkirk College student housing to remain open, with precautions

College won’t evict students in midst of COVID-19 pandemic, says prez

Selkirk College students living in on-campus housing may not be able to go to class, but they won’t be kicked out of their residences.

The college’s president says they have no plans to order students out in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s where people live, it’s their home,” says Angus Graeme. “So we just feel we have to honour that. It’s housing for folks.”

Colleges and universities across the country have been asking or telling students to vacate their dorms in response to the spread of COVID-19. That’s forced many to search for housing or move between cities at a time when Canadians have been advised to stay home. Others have been asked to leave voluntarily.

SEE: Students at several colleges, universities asked to vacate dorms over COVID-19

Selkirk College also suspended in-person classes last week and instructed staff to figure out alternate delivery methods for lessons.

But Graeme says its 200 students in two buildings — one in Nelson, and one in Castlegar — can stay put.

“We won’t be evicting people or telling them to leave the campus residences,” he says. “That’s where they live.”

Student plans in limbo

Graeme says the pandemic has thrown many students’ plans into chaos as well.

He notes many students, both domestic and international, have had to “recreate” their summer plans. Practicums, summer jobs and co-op placements have all been affected by the pandemic.

“For some of the students they have to re-think their own plans, about travelling home or staying for the summer,” he says. “Their employment situation may be changing, because the business community of course has been affected.

“So I think we are giving them some time to organize their options as well, and take away the angst that would be created if we said ‘we need you to be out by the end of the month.’

“We’re just not going to do that.”

Protective measures

Graeme says students staying in campus housing are having to make adjustments to help avoid the virus spreading.

“Maybe it’s minimizing groups getting together in the TV room, or the shared kitchen,” he says. “Staff are looking after that and doing a really good job of making sure students take this seriously, and we have to take it seriously as well.”

Cafeterias have also adjusted their practices somewhat. The teaching kitchen at Mary Hall has been closed with the end of in-place instruction at the college, but the other two remain open.

“We’ll manage the traffic internally, to make sure small groups only, keep your distance, lots of hand-washing as you prepare your food. Maybe no movie nights for a while, that kind of thing,” he says. “We’re not just trying to prevent infection, but minimize transmission as well, flatten that curve as we all have been told.”

The computer labs have also remained open, as some students need to use the college-provided machines. However, precautions have been put in place, says Graeme.

“We’ve reduced the seating in each of our labs, but we want to make sure those facilities are available,” he says. “We’ll clean them properly and keep people at a distance and so forth.”

SEE: Selkirk College suspends in-person classes

The issue may take care of itself as students complete their courses and move out as scheduled, over the course of the next two or three weeks.

Some students may also choose to leave early if they wish, he says, as alternate testing methods may allow them to finish their courses remotely.

After students leave, Graeme says each unit will be receiving a deep clean to help fight the virus’ spread.

Spring/summer session in limbo

What’s not clear is what will happen when the next cohort of international and domestic students is due to arrive in May, says Graeme.

“We’re still trying to figure out current Global Affairs policy on student visa holders who are intending on coming in for May,” he says. “There was a recent announcement yesterday (March 19) from Minister Blair on the federal level on honouring those student visas, as long as students were able to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.”

Meanwhile, classes are set to resume Monday using alternative delivery methods.

Graeme says he’s been inspired by how faculty, staff and students have all collaborated and helped the College pivot to the new reality.

“We’re a very different college,” he says. “It’s just astonishing.”



reporter@rosslandnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Selkirk College

Selkirk College

Just Posted

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Cottonwood Lake fundraiser reaches goal

The community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Lesley Garlow, Indigenous educator at Touchstones Museum of Art and History, with two of many red dresses hanging outside Nelson City Hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Red dress exhibit outside Nelson City Hall calls for justice for Indigenous women and girls

The REDress Project has also been installed in Touchstones gallery

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility’s COVID-10 outbreak has been declared over by Interior Health. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID outbreak at Vernon’s Noric House declared over

10 deaths were linked to the outbreak at long-term care facility

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Gas prices jumped in Golden to 131.9c this week, a trend that's supposed to continue into the summer. (Claire Palmer/Golden Star)
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Clovechok concerned as gas prices continue to rise

Fuel prices are supposed to skyrocket this summer as British Columbians await BCUC analysis

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read