Exactly one year ago, on March 15, 2020, VIU’s University Relations team sent every VIU student an email with a subject line reading, “COVID-19 UPDATE: VIU transitioning to alternate course delivery and assessment.” VIU, along with other post-secondary institutions around the province, had finally decided that, for the safety of students, staff, and faculty, all classes would transition to an “alternate course delivery.”
I was in the parking lot of the Nanaimo Chapters when I first read the email. Before I could even get to my car, my phone started blowing up with friends, coworkers, and residents texting me asking what this email meant for us. I had no clue. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, and I didn’t seem to be the only student feeling that way.
Amongst all the chaos that ensued later that night, I decided to get my nose pierced the following day. It just felt like the right thing to do.
From there, my five remaining weeks of the semester were spent learning how to use Zoom and VIUTube for the first time. I moved back home without the chance to say a proper goodbye to friends, classmates, and coworkers. But this wouldn’t last forever, right?
Enter stage right: Zoom University.
Moving most classes to an online format was the safest choice for VIU, but it was not the easiest for many students. All my conversation-based learning classes got moved to online discussion boards, which no longer made conversations feel like conversations. It became ironic that, although I was studying digital media and was prepared to learn and complete assignments online, by the time Friday rolled around I could not bear to even look at a screen. I never thought I would miss room 108 (also known as the media studies room) with its twinkling Christmas lights as much as I did.
But now it seems that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. On Tuesday, March 9, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah Saucier sent out a letter updating students about VIU’s plan for a safe return to campus. This comes following Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s announcement that she has full confidence in a safe, full return to in-person instruction in post-secondary institutions.
While VIU never called the fall return a “full” return, begging the question of whether all classes or programs will return to in-person instruction, Saucier wrote that VIU’s focus for the fall semester return “is to support your educational experience along with your physical and mental well-being.”