The following message was distributed to all Conestoga employees, Board of Governors members, and the broader college community on behalf of President John Tibbits on September 4.
Welcome to the Fall 2020 semester and the traditional beginning of a new academic year. This will be a year like no other in the history of our college, as we continue to deliver most programs and services remotely and operate under strict physical distancing and infection prevention protocols for all essential on-campus activities.
The social and economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to escalate, with more than 26 million cases now diagnosed worldwide, and almost 900,000 deaths directly attributed to the virus. India and Brazil, countries that account for a large percentage of Conestoga’s international students, are among the hardest hit, falling behind only the U.S. in terms of both cases and deaths.
While conditions in Canada generally, and our region specifically, have improved, public health officials warn of the need to remain vigilant to prevent community spread and a resurgence of cases.
At Conestoga, the safety and well-being of our college community is our highest priority. As we head into the new semester, I’d like to take this opportunity to commend the efforts of the many employees who have worked to transform our campus operations, programs and services to deliver a safe and positive learning and working experience through these extraordinary times.
Over the summer, we successfully delivered on-campus learning experiences to more than 3,000 Conestoga students who had been unable to complete their studies as a result of the cancellation of face-to-face classes in March. This was an outstanding achievement, requiring the investment of millions of dollars for the development and implementation of stringent safety and infection control procedures.
I am very proud of the work we have done to date, which has allowed students to complete essential hands-on learning activities and finish their semester requirements safely. We have received no reports of COVID-19 transmission on our campuses, and have been commended by public health officials for the diligence of our efforts. Compliance with new health and safety procedures by both employees and students has been outstanding.
Although most students will be studying remotely this fall, we anticipate that more than 4,000 will participate in on-campus laboratory, shop and studio activities, requiring additional investment and ongoing vigilance to support the safety and well-being of our entire college community.
While the year ahead presents some unique challenges, the dedication and commitment of Conestoga employees, whether working from home or on campus, will help ensure that our students can continue to learn and prosper as they prepare for successful futures.
Thank you for your hard work and ongoing contributions to the success of our students and community. While the pandemic continues and the future is fraught with uncertainty, I am confident that Conestoga will emerge stronger, sharper and more resourceful as we adapt to changing needs.
Please join me in welcoming Conestoga’s newest students and employees, and best wishes to all for a safe and successful year.