Working together to overcome challenges

Published on May 26, 2020

When NAIT cancelled in-person classes in March to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the entire campus came together to overcome challenges in inspiring ways. In the weeks that followed, staff and students transitioned to learn online and responded to help people impacted by the pandemic in our community.

The move to virtual classrooms

NAIT’s instructors and staff worked quickly to transition as many classes as possible to online instruction. Class assignments, quizzes and presentations were delivered with the help of online and video platforms.

Students did their best to adapt to the new way of learning at home – several balancing their school work and taking care of their families and pets. Although a big change, by the end of the semester 177,873 quizzes and exams (a 523% increase over the 2019 winter term) were successfully completed online.

"I was beyond impressed with the ability of my students to pivot to a fully online mode," says Business Instructor Teresa Sturgess. " From my experience across 5 classes, students demonstrated their ability to adapt and did some of their best work."

COVID-19 Student Relief

The COVID-19 Student Relief Fund was created  thanks to $50,000 in donations received for the NAIT Fund and a matching $50,000 gift from the NAIT Students’ Association.

The COVID-19 Student Relief Fund provides bursaries to students whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.  A special campaign launched to increase support for these bursaries and provide immediate relief to students.

“Our biggest hope is that we can help as many students as possible, maybe not in huge ways, but really help them with those bills or those unexpected expenses that are really difficult for them to cover right now,” says Alexis Sieben, NAITSA’s acting president and vice-president internal.

A hand up for charities in need

Several programs stepped up to support local charities. Fresh fruits and  vegetables, cheese, grains, canned goods and frozen products, typically used for instruction and food services, were gathered to help the most vulnerable in our community.

“We went with the philosophy of not a single olive or slice of bread in good condition was to be left behind,” says Dori Dubetz, procurement officer for the school. “We sought charities that could receive a wide scope of items to ensure we stayed true to that philosophy.”

Students went the extra mile to do their part, baking goods and organizing a clothing drive that gathered nearly 100 pounds of clothing. After the food and items were  delivered, a total of $10,759.02 in donations was provided to the Edmonton Food Bank, the Hope Mission and 4 additional charities.

Ventilators aid in COVID-19 fight

On March 31, Alberta Health Services picked up 24 ventilators used by students in Respiratory Therapy labs and in the polytechnic’s Simulation Centre. The ventilators are being loaned to help frontline workers care for patients affected with COVID-19 who struggle to move air in and out of their lungs on their own.

Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences  (Medical X-Ray Technology ’69) Denise MacIver credits her team who were prepared  to help. Most have experience working in the healthcare system and know what is needed when there’s an outbreak, epidemic or pandemic.

“They immediately rolled up their sleeves and did it,” she says. “And they did it well.”

Read the full story previously published on Techlifetoday.ca.