The following update was distributed to all Conestoga employees.
Good morning. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your efforts to support Conestoga students and continue delivering quality education and services in alternative format as we practice social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I recognize that this has been a difficult transition for everyone. Working remotely while also meeting your family responsibilities and worrying about what the future might bring is tremendously challenging.
I’m so very proud of how well Conestoga faculty and staff have risen to that challenge, keeping the needs of our students at the forefront so that they can complete their semesters and continue progressing towards program completion and successful futures.
I’m also very proud of how we are supporting our community, making a difference in the fight against COVID-19 through contributions of essential equipment and supplies that will help protect front-line workers and provide additional capacity for hospitals in this time of crisis.
This is a global issue, and the impact will be profound and long-lasting. Over the last 10 days, it’s become very clear that our campuses are likely to be shut down for much longer than initially expected. Requirements for social distancing, border closures and the resulting economic uncertainty are likely to continue for weeks or even months to come as we try to limit the spread of the virus.
While our campuses will re-open at some point, the college is facing a very different future than the one we had all anticipated even a few weeks ago.
June convocation has been postponed, and there will be no in-person classes or activities scheduled when the spring semester starts on May 19. At this time, it is impossible to predict when that situation may change. What is clear is that normal operations will be suspended for the foreseeable future, and that Conestoga will need to make significant adjustments in response to lower student enrolments, reduced revenues and increased cost pressures. This situation is likely to be prolonged as the global economy goes through a massive contraction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In collaboration with the senior leadership team, and with the support of Conestoga’s Board of Governors, we are doing everything we can to manage this unexpected and sudden reversal in order to ensure a sustainable future for the institution. There will be difficult decisions ahead as we realign college operations in light of revised expectations. Some initiatives will need to be postponed or deferred, while others may be cancelled altogether. Staffing levels, discretionary spending and non-essential activities will all need to be carefully examined and adjusted in light of our altered circumstances.
These changes will not be easy, but they are essential based on the financial realities of the current situation.
Conestoga values its employees and will continue to demonstrate compassion, empathy and respect to all community members as we respond to changing circumstances resulting from the global pandemic. Regular communications and updates will be provided as decisions are made and actions taken.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to manage this unprecedented situation. I am confident that we can get through it, and that Conestoga will continue to play a pivotal role in the success, well-being and prosperity of the communities we serve.
John Tibbits, President