Orientation week facing uncertainty with possibility of remote learning in the fall

AMS Orientation Roundtable planning for “all different methods of delivery” due to COVID-19

According to Mitchell Sanders, ORT coordinator, the uncertainty surrounding fall term has cast doubt on the future of orientation week.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

As the AMS Orientation Roundtable (ORT) waits for more information about the method of course delivery for the fall term, no concrete plans for orientation week have been made.

Along with the Division of Student Affairs (DSA), the ORT is continuing to assess contingency plans regarding the status of orientation week 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Roundtable intends to take direction from the University once a decision about the structure of fall term course delivery has been made and appropriate public health measures have been set.

“As of now, we are planning for all different methods of delivery,” Mitchell Sanders, ORT coordinator, wrote in a statement to The Journal. “Once we have more information about how the fall semester will look, we will be able to better speak to plans for orientation.”

At the time of publication, the University has not yet decided whether remote learning will continue into the fall term. The uncertainty has cast doubt on the future of orientation week, according to Sanders. 

“The faculty societies understand that orientation may be the same, but they also know it could be significantly altered,” he wrote. “In any case, everyone is prepared to move rapidly on contingency planning should significant changes be announced to welcome and support incoming students.”

To ensure incoming first years still receive an orientation in the fall regardless of the circumstances, faculty society orientation heads and executives are meeting weekly with the AMS and the ORT. 

According to Sanders, the ORT and the AMS are also meeting frequently with stakeholders from the Student Experience Office, faculty Deans' offices, and others across the University to assess ongoing contingency planning. The AMS is also working with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and other institutions to discuss options.

When The Journal inquired about specific scenarios under consideration by the ORT and AMS, Sanders did not provide any details, nor did he specify what form orientation would take if campus remains closed in the fall term. 

“Regardless of the decision made by the University about the fall term, the priority will always be to help incoming students transition into the Queen’s community and to reach the goals of orientation week,” Sanders wrote.

Sanders added that orientation is an important part of the transition to Queen’s because it allows incoming students to make connections with fellow students, find community, and get acquainted with the University’s academic and wellness resources.

“[Orientation week] is integral in ensuring incoming students perceive Queen’s as a welcoming and inclusive community,” he wrote.

The event also provides leadership opportunities for upper-year students who help run it. Due to social distancing restrictions, however, the traditional one-day orientation leader training in March did not occur.

“Regardless of method of delivery, all orientation leaders will receive and complete the mandated training required to prepare them to welcome the class of 2024,” Sanders wrote.

Orientation week is scheduled to run from Sept. 5 to 13 on the Kingston campus. Registration for orientation week will not begin until after the June 1 acceptance deadline, when all formal offers of admission have been accepted by incoming students. 

Corrections

This article has been updated to reflect the correct title of the Division of Student Affairs.

The Journal regrets the error.

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