By Scott Zielsdorf

Students finding themselves back on campus this semester will be walking into a very different school than the one they left last winter.

NAIT has made it clear that safety during COVID-19 is one of the school’s primary concerns, with strict new rules and regulations in place. Campus is for all intents and purposes a controlled traffic location, complete with designated lanes for walking, warning signs galore and restricted access areas.

Many NAIT services, with the exception of some food areas, will remain closed during the fall semester, and classrooms are only being utilized for labs. In addition, students will be required to sign in online, which includes declaring the time frame they will be on campus for.

As with all public spaces across the city, masks are mandatory everywhere on campus. In labs where appropriate social distancing cannot be achieved, face shields (which are being provided by NAIT) are required in addition to a mask. With all of these measures, it’s hard to forget we’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic.

For some students, like Justin Moore of the Denture Technology program, on-campus labs have already been going on for the entire week leading up to school. Moore explains that because of the shut down brought about by COVID-19, his program has had to do catch-up labs to help meet their required lab hours.

“We just finished our first week of lab…and we [hadn’t] even gone through our official orientation yet,” said Moore. “We’re doing a lot, it’s just a bit more chaotic when you come in before it officially starts, they kind of called us ‘guinea pigs’.”

Moore says that the extra personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t too strange for his program, given the regular precautions that medical fields take. His primary concern going into this new semester was the quality of education he’ll be receiving.

“Before this first week back – before the pre-lab, I was concerned about not being able to get the full experience that we would have normally gotten,” added Moore, who went on to explain he appreciates the effort put in by NAIT.

“They’ve rearranged things to postpone it as long as possible, so we don’t miss certain aspects of our education that we have to do…It seems they are working hard to make that happen.”

For some programs, especially ones not in a medical field, the addition of strict sanitization and PPE is a foreign concept. Students in a program such as Radio and Television are expecting quite a difference from what they had before; it’s not often that a radio station is treated like a hospital.

However, as with everything during these strange times, students in all programs will have to adjust to the “new normal” for now. The COVID-19 situation is constantly changing; the staff and students of NAIT have proven they are capable of adapting to meet the challenge.