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May 19, 2020 12:58 PM

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions: Co-op students

Co-op student FAQs will be updated to reflect changes in governmental and college responses to COVID-19.

Visit COVID-19 Updates for a snapshot of recent changes across all college resources and information in response to COVID-19.  

Posted: May 19, 2020


Who should I go to with my co-op questions?

If this FAQ page doesn’t answer your questions, please reach out to your Co-op Advisor with co-op related questions. The COVID-19 pandemic is fluid and evolving making it more difficult to navigate the spring/summer 2020 work term.  Your Co-op Advisor will provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding your upcoming co-op term.  If you don’t know who your co-op advisor is, they are listed as your co-ordinator in MyCareer


I secured a spring/summer 2020 work term. Is the Conestoga moving forward with spring/summer co-ops?

Yes. Conestoga is permitting students to proceed with their spring/summer work terms if they voluntarily choose to do so. Students may also proceed with employment in essential services on site. Students working from home may proceed with their employment even if it has been deemed as non-essential. 

If you choose to work, you will be required to acknowledge your informed consent in MyCareer before starting your work term. Conestoga neither requires nor recommends that students participate in work terms that require them to work onsite.  Students that choose to participate in work term employment are advised to follow the appropriate recommendations by their employer and Public Health organizations to minimize risks.


Why do I have to fill out the informed consent agreement before starting my spring/summer 2020 work term?  I didn’t do that last term.

Informed consent is a new and temporary agreement due to the pandemic. It provides information to help students consider the risks that exist while working outside their homes during this pandemic. Knowing these risks will help students make an informed decision about starting co-op employment onsite. 

The safety and well-being of students is Conestoga’s top priority, therefore, the college neither requires nor recommends that students continue with their spring/summer co-op work terms onsite.   


I secured employment for spring 2020 but I’m not sure if it’s considered an essential service. Can I still participate in this co-op opportunity?

It is the employer’s responsibility to comply with the essential services mandate and determine if employees can work onsite.  If you are working from home, you may proceed with employment even if it has been deemed as non-essential. Currently, the co-op team is connecting with employer partners to discuss health and safety preparedness for employees amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 


I haven’t secured a spring/summer 2020 work term yet and I’m in an optional co-op program.  Should I continue to search?

The choice is yours. Conestoga neither requires nor recommends students continue with their spring/summer co-op work terms. Alternative pathways have been created so that programs can be completed successfully without penalization for not participating in the spring/summer 2020 term. If you do not complete a spring/summer work term you will be exempt from the term. Work terms will not be deferred. 

If you would have had…

You now complete your program exempt from one work term (not deferred)

Four work terms

Graduate with three

Three work terms

Graduate with two

Two work terms

Graduate with one

One work term

Graduate (non co-op)

The MyCareer job board is still available for co-op job seekers.

The last day to secure a co-op work term is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­July 10. If you are in a program with a G-version (see GCM FAQ) and you haven’t secured a work term by May 19, you will be enrolled and expected to attend Career Management in Canada (GCM) during the first week of classes. GCM will be offered online for the entirety of the spring/summer term. 


I’m in a degree program. What if I don’t secure a spring 2020 work term?  How do I complete my degree?

Conestoga understands that it may have been difficult for students to secure employment given the economic and financial uncertainty that COVID-19 has presented. If you are in a bachelor’s degree program which includes more than the minimum PEQAB required WIL experience, the additional experience may be exempted from student program completion requirements if no other alternative, such as GCM, already exists for the program (see GCM FAQ). 

If you would have had

You now complete your degree exempt from one work term (not deferred)

Three work terms

Graduate with two work terms and either an alternative (GCM) or an exemption

Two work terms

Graduate with one work term and either an alternative (GCM) or exemption

One work term

Graduate with an alternative approved WIL experience

Students with more than one work term in their program design must complete at least one PEQAB eligible work term. If the GCM70000 alternative experience is available for the first work term in a program, it must be completed instead of an exemption. Students with only one work term in their program design may be eligible to complete an alternative opportunity that ensures the degree level standard and the program learning outcomes are substantially achieved. Co-operative Education and your program team will connect with you should this apply. 


What is GCM and is it an option for me?

Guided Career Management in Canada (GCM) is an alternative to a co-op work term. Students enrolled in GCM will participate in a series of online workshops and activities presented by industry experts and career professionals. Students will be accountable for tasks and projects while developing essential employability skills necessary to find and secure work.

GCM will run online beginning the week of May 19 for 14 weeks. 

This spring, students will be able to continue job searching while enrolled in GCM.  If you find work you can leave the GCM program and participate in your co-op work term.  The last date to secure a Co-op work term is July 10 so that you can work 8 weeks with a minimum of 240 hours to achieve a co-op credit.  You are expected to participate in your GCM activities until you officially start at the job, this way if there is a disappointing change with the work start date you could still complete GCM. 

During the pandemic, work start dates are fluid and are often being pushed back or cancelled as employers monitor safety conditions and work demands. If GCM is in your program design, it is your program completion strategy and there will be no exemptions for the term


I’m an international student.  Can I do my GCM from my home county?

Yes. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have extended online delivery exemptions for Post-Graduate Work Permit eligibility. This means those who have a study permit or who have been approved for a study permit for a program starting in May or June can begin and complete up to 50 per cent of their program online from abroad in anticipation of a transition to Canada.

Choosing to not participate in GCM could impact the length of your future postgraduate work permit. Please speak to an International advisor regarding permit/ visa inquiries.


Can I defer the spring/summer 2020 Co-op work term?

Deferrals are not available. Work term exemptions have been put in place so that you can graduate on time.


What if I feel working onsite during this pandemic is unsafe -- can I choose not to do a spring/summer co-op work term?

There will be no academic penalty if you do not participate in a spring/summer work term.

The safety and well-being of students is Conestoga’s top priority, therefore, the college neither requires nor recommends that students continue with their spring/summer co-op work terms on site. 

Please inform your Co-op Advisor of your decision. 


I was offered a position, but it might not start until June due to COVID-19.  How many weeks will I need to work to get credit for the co-op work term? 

Co-operative Education is eager to work with you to achieve success during these uncertain times. You will be required to work a minimum of 8 weeks with a minimum of 240 hours to achieve a co-op work term credit.  This can be a combination of two employment experiences if needed. For example, you could work 4 weeks with one employer and 4 weeks with another and obtain your co-op credit as long as the hours also combined to a minimum of 240.


What is the deadline to secure a spring/summer 2020 co-op work term?

The last day to secure a co-op work term is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­July 10, 2020.

The last day to begin a work term is July 13, 2020.


Can I get a refund? 

Co-op fees are currently under review.  Additional information will be provided to students as they become available.


Can I obtain my co-op credit in an unpaid position?

In order to ensure that employers take responsibility for your health and safety, we are only able to approve paid co-op work terms while physical distancing protocols remain in place. Students may choose to volunteer to gain relevant experience, but it will not be counted towards a co-op credit.

To receive co-op credit, work terms will need to be paid and approved with a minimum of 8 weeks and 240 hours. Unpaid positions will not be approved for co-op in spring 2020.


Can I work in a position unrelated to my co-op program?

Although the work term has been shorted, the same approval process is in place.  The co-op work term needs to be appropriate to your program field and must meet at least 50 per cent of the articulated learning outcomes for your program. If in doubt, it is always best to have a conversation about this with your Co-op Advisor. 


Can I start my own business venture and use it as a spring/summer co-op work term?

Yes. If you are a committed, enthusiastic self-starter and up for the challenge of starting your own business, we encourage you to apply to the Enterprise Co-op program.

Learn more about this opportunity through MyCareer (Co-op > Co-op Resources).


I secured a spring/summer work term and my employer just rescinded the offer. What should I do?

Please notify your Co-op Advisor. Your ERC will connect with the employer to discuss employment incentives to bridge the financial difficulties that employers are facing due to Covid-19. You may continue to search for opportunities. Co-operative Education will continue to work with you to find alternative options. If you are not able to secure another work term offer you will not be academically penalized.

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