With states of emergency being called in Canada (a rare event) and abroad, schools being cancelled, and not really being able to leave the house, many people have gone into a panic around the world. All schools in Canada are closed and there are a couple provinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta where they haven’t given a return date. Some are speculating that they have closed for the rest of the year. Some of the provinces have said they will prepare resources for students to access online. All over Canada they are scrambling to get a temporary distance, online program functioning so that high school, college, and university students can continue their studies during this pandemic.
With Athabasca, there is one good thing about how we function as a school, and that is, distance learning. Athabasca University will be functioning similar to before because of its online status. We are one of the fortunate educational centers that (aside for exams and some courses with in-class requirements) can continue studies on as normal. In addition, at the time this is being written, cases in the western provinces are soaring, so it is important to limit your outside functions to necessity only and maybe eat some immune boosting foods.
Athabasca University, due to COVID-19, understands that you may not be able to write your exams with an invigilator, so, “all in-person exams scheduled from March 16 until April 15, 2020 have been cancelled” (Athabasca , online). At a later date, they will be rescheduled; but in the meantime, Athabasca is asking that students do not request a new paper exam. If your exam is online, then you can use ProctorU to write your exam. On Wednesday, AUSU offered 80 students a free ProctorU exam in an email announcement, but those have since all been awarded. However, Athabasca says they will not charge any fees such as rebooking or rescheduling fees. (Athabasca , online). There may still be ProctorU fees if you need to rush a ProctorU scheduling unless you do a course extension to give time to wait for invigilators to open. Nevertheless, exams are cancelled and Athabasca is “encouraging any students with online exams to consider using ProctorU to write their exams from home”(Athabasca email correspondence). This also gives students who have not tried writing an exam with ProctorU at home a chance to experience it. This was sent to students via an email announcement, but bears repeating for those who may have missed it.
Another change due to the virus is that for those who are affected by COVID-19, a free course extension is being offered by Athabasca, “if you have been affected by COVID-19 and your course is nearing completion or you are unable to study due to caring for others and work commitments and need additional time to help you complete your course, AU will allow for a two-month extension and will waive processing fees” (Athabasca , online). This announcement was emailed to students on Tuesday. So, it seems Athabasca is responding pretty well to the situation and is helping learners out a little.
Try to keep calm, call on the elderly around your community that may need your help getting groceries at this time, limit your exposure risk and try to keep healthy everyone!