Will first-year students be remote in the winter term? Provost says yes, with some exceptions

Individual faculties finalizing plans for winter 2021; Faculty of Arts and Science, Smith School of Business confirm first-year courses will be online in winter

First-year students can expect to receive more information from their faculties in the coming months as plans are finalized. 

Whether first-year students will experience an entirely remote academic year at Queen’s is a decision that rests with individual faculties and schools.

Several faculties and schools across the University began sharing their plans for the winter term with students last week to assist those making decisions about their living arrangements for the upcoming year.

“With some exceptions, most first-year lectures will be delivered remotely,” Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green wrote in a July 30 statement. “Other on-campus academic activities will vary somewhat across programs.”

Green said the winter term proposals were approved by the Academic Operations Group and the Senior Leadership Team to align with current Public Health guidelines. 

The plans are subject to change as these guidelines evolve prior to January.

According to Green, the decision to hold academic activities on campus was determined based on the need for students to access specialized facilities, such as labs. Faculties and schools also considered the ability of students to progress in their studies and meet the academic requirements of their programs. 

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“Regardless of the course delivery format, the university is committed to ensuring all students receive an equitable and robust learning experience,” Green wrote, noting that programs and services to support academic success will available to all students including academic advising, library services, and wellness support.

First-year students can expect to receive more information about winter term academic programming directly from their faculties as plans are finalized. 

The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS), for example, shared on July 30 that all first-year undergraduate courses will be delivered remotely in the winter term. The Faculty will assess the possibility of delivering upper-year and graduate courses on campus later in the fall term.

“Our goal is to bring back as many upper-year and graduating students as possible in winter 2021,” Barbara Crow, dean of the FAS, wrote in a statement. “We will be prioritizing the return of upper-year and graduating students so that they can complete the learning outcomes of their programs that cannot be completed remotely or deferred to a future year, such as lab or creative work as well as capstone and research projects.” 

The Smith School of Business will also maintain remote delivery to first-year students in the winter term and will provide details about upper-year delivery in the coming weeks.

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However, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS) intends to offer a blended delivery model to all undergraduate students in the winter term. 

“A blended model is one that offers course content online (lectures, seminars, readings), but delivers experiential learning in person,” Kevin Deluzio, dean of the FEAS, wrote in a July 30 statement.  “This is a proven educational delivery method that’s been used successfully by FEAS and other Queen’s departments in the past, pre-pandemic.” 

This method allows students to attend online classes on their own schedule, according to Deluzio, while dedicating limited in-person instruction to learning that involves direct work with instructors, including lab work, active learning, tutorials, group design projects, and fieldwork.

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