REC Town Hall Highlights: Answering student questions about provincial restrictions update

On September 24, 2021, the SAMRU Representation Executive Council held a live-streamed town hall to address students’ questions and concerns regarding major changes to the Mount Royal University campus as a result of provincial COVID-19 health measures. Students were asked to submit questions to an online form where they were asked to share their feedback. A live Q&A portion followed the question period where additional time for students to ask questions was given.  

SAMRU Student COVID Town Hall Highlights

Major REC wins for 2021-22

  • Putting an end to invasive exam proctoring protocols
  • Extending the withdrawal date to the end of classes during the winter 2021 semester 
  • Providing students with options by advocating for the Rapid Testing Program on campus for those who are not vaccinared
  • Extending the fee and class drop date deadline to Sept 30 

REC’s stance has always been to advocate for in-person learning for students. It is important that students who pay for facilities, supports, and resources have access to these services. After hearing from students, this cannot be achieved through online learning. REC has also prioritized the safety of students on campus. Advocating for both in-person learning while taking into account the safety of students on campus. While this has not been an easy task, SAMRU REC will continue to advocate for students’ best interests. 

Will the extended fee + drop deadline affect the refunds that are sent to students? 

In a typical year, refunds tend to be distributed about two weeks after the fee deadline; because the drop and fee deadline was extended by about two weeks, there may be a two-week delay in refunds for students. If you are a student experiencing financial hardship, you can contact MRU’s Office of the Registrar to receive your refund sooner (link registrar). 

Can professors change the format of course delivery at any time, or will things remain in person for the entire semester?

No, professors do not have the option to change the format of course delivery. Professors are expected to follow course outlines given to students at the beginning of the semester. There is a possibility that in-person courses may temporarily switch online for example, if a professor becomes ill. 

How is MRU keeping students accountable for their proof of vaccinations? 

As of Oct. 4, there is no longer an honours system for proof of vaccinations. Anyone entering the MRU campus is required to upload their proof of vaccination to the MRU Now app or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours. The MRU Now app is the primary way that MRU will keep track of proof of vaccinations. 

What is REC’s plan to advocate for students who do not want to show proof of vaccination?

Proof of vaccination is slowly becoming the norm at nearly every level of government regulation. REC’s stance has not changed. REC believes that no student should be denied access to their education, but REC and SAMRU also are responsible for following provincial and federal health regulations to ensure the safety of students on campus. 

After Nov. 1, 2021, MRU will no longer be paying for the option for students to participate in the Rapid Testing program. REC is advocating for the continuation of on-campus Rapid Testing, paid for by those who use the service, to ensure they are not denied access to their education.

Those who want to participate in Rapid Testing after Nov. 1, 2021, will have to pay out of pocket to access the program. Prior to Nov.1, the Rapid Testing program is funded by taxpayer dollars. The Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education believes this is an ineffective use of funding secured for post-secondary institutions.

REC is also looking into potential options for those who are unvaccinated after the Jan.1 deadline to continue their education. These options may include leniency on core classes and/or streamlining students to Athabasca University to access online classes. 

What about hybrid options for classes? 

REC has proposed this to the MRU administration. Currently, MRU does not have the technical infrastructure to support this mode of delivery. REC believes that much of the value of education comes from the ability to learn in person. For this reason, REC stands behind the 20/80 ratio of 20% of classes offered online with the other 80% being offered in-person. 

There are fewer spaces to study on campus now that social distancing is in effect. Where can I go to study on campus? 

The first place students can go is G100, also known as the Old Library located off of Mainstreet. There are additional study spaces open in Ross Glenn Hall in the Continuing Education building also known as EC. In Wyckham House students can use the Second Floor Lounge to study (food and drinks permitted), 

How is MRU enforcing mandatory masking on campus?

MRU Security is responsible for enforcing this mandate and will ask students to follow campus regulations accordingly. Security also provides frequent broadcasts over the PA system to gently remind students to keep their masks on when needed. 

Has SAMRU been in contact with MRU to ensure social distancing is possible in classrooms?

According to the Government of Alberta, post-secondary institutions are exempt from the requirement to social distance in specific learning environments. These specific environments include classrooms and laboratories. 

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Find more information about the SAMRU Representation Executive Council (REC) here.