The Royal Military College (RMC) is planning a full return to in-person classes for its undergraduate student population by January 2022.
This information comes after months of near-silence from military university, who were unable to respond to media inquires during the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. This was due to the coinciding federal election, the outcome of which resulted in a personnel reorganization. Nevertheless, the school year began, and is off to a good start, RMC conveyed.
“Although the pandemic has brought many challenges, this academic year successfully kicked off with a mix of in-person and remote classes, with planning ongoing for the return of the full undergraduate student population in January 2022,” RMC Public Affairs Officer Capt. Jonathan Farlam reported in an email.
For the fall term at RMC, the decision was made to have academic courses delivered remotely as the default setting. This was due to approximately half of the naval and officer cadets still being dispersed and learning remotely, as well as the fact it provides a steady state in which classes can be delivered safely and to all students, whether on campus or learning remotely, Farlam stated.
Approximately half of RMC students arrived on campus during a two-day period from Saturday, Jul. 31, 2021 to Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 and were promptly put on a two-week isolation period before training commenced.
“This included approximately 100 student athletes who participate in competitive events, as RMC is a member of and has a commitment to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) organization,” reported RMC’s Public Affairs Office.
RMC athletes have to follow pandemic-related policies, maintain a contact list, and be at least 14 days past their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with an approved vaccination exemption must have a negative rapid antigen test within 48 hours of an event. RMC’s varsity teams include men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and fencing, men’s hockey and men’s rugby.
RMC has implemented four additional conditions for in-person instruction to take place:
- The students must be in Kingston
- Professors must be willing to teach in-person
- The local health conditions are favourable
- There is an approved course-specific health and safety plan
“We recognize that in-person instruction is the best option academically, offering the best support to learners and more mentorship opportunities from educators,” said Farlam.
There are currently 48 classes, ranging from undergraduate to graduate studies, which are taking place in person while respecting public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Class of 2025 has completed their Military Indoctrination Period and first year orientation program and has joined the rest of the RMC naval and officer cadets on campus for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Vaccination clinics were held for first-year students on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021 and Thursday, Sep. 5, 2021. In addition, all military personnel have been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated in May and June 2021, and the Department of National Defence (DND) civilian employees have been regularly encouraged to receive their vaccination through the local health unit, according to RMC.
The Government of Canada is now requiring federal government employees, including members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), to be fully vaccinated and to be compliant with this new policy by Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.
“Throughout the rest of the academic year, naval and officer cadets will continue to participate in academics, military training, athletics, and second language training in accordance with the four-pillar degree program,” Farlam said.
COVID-positive cases within RMC will be handled by collaborating with and assisting “the health authorities wherever possible and when requested. RMC provides any information, observations, questions or concerns to the local Canadian Forces Health Services Centre and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health authorities who coordinate COVID-19 contact tracing and response,” said Farlam.
When required, per the health and safety protocols put in place by the RMC academic wing, academic courses pivot to remote delivery of courses while awaiting further information and results from affected individuals.
RMC’s Public Affairs Office said that they remain steadfast in their determination to maintain the health and safety of the RMC community and all Canadians. As such, all necessary health and safety protocols are followed and contact tracing is conducted if a member of the RMC Community tests positive for COVID-19.
Cases of COVID-19 amongst CAF members are reported to the provincial or territorial public health authority in which they occur by the member’s supporting Canadian Forces Health Services Centre in accordance with provincial or territorial requirements, according to RMC.