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Alberta universities plan to do away with dormitory residences during COVID-19 pandemic

Alberta universities plan to do away with dormitory residences during COVID-19 pandemicFirst-year University of Calgary students who were destined for dormitory-style residences will now be moved to apartment-style residences to allow for better physical distancing — but the move comes with a price increase of $3,000.The university's website says it has chosen not to use traditional dormitory-style residences this fall because of the shared washroom facilities, and that first-year student communities would be established in buildings with two and three-bedroom suites."You can expect a rate increase of about $3,000 for the academic year, compared to a traditional double room," the website reads. It adds a meal plan is not included."We understand this may cause some challenges. However, the new room assignments are in place to maintain everyone's health and safety while staying with us."Despite the move, it remains mandatory for first-year students living in residence at the U of C to purchase a meal plan.Assad Ali Bik, student union (SU) vice-president of student life, said the increase in cost to students is why the SU is advocating for emergency funding — especially for first-year students.The U of C did not make anyone available for an interview but asked CBC News to check back for updates in July."Maintaining the safety of students living in residence is a priority of the University of Calgary," the university said in a statement."Residence Services is currently exploring various options to house students, including residence life programming, adhering to [the] Alberta government's re-opening rules and guidelines."Esther Nwafor has lived in multiple U of C residences and moved out in June after experiencing persistent internet issues brought on by a shortage of IT staffing.She said life in residence has become lonely during the pandemic. "I would probably not stay in residence if I was a first-year student right now," she said.Nwafor said higher costs may make staying in residence prohibitive. In addition, physical distancing will make it more difficult to build community."Residence did help me make some of my friends that I still have today," she said. Other Alberta universities are also making changes to their residences for the fall in case COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. Here's what you can expect at some of the province's post-secondary institutions.Move inThe University of Lethbridge, University of Alberta and Mount Royal University said they won't have their usual one-day move-in process."Rather than focusing all of our move on a single day we're looking at, can we spread it out over a period of time to allow them to arrive with one or two family members and set up," said Katherine Huising, associate vice-president of ancillary services with the U of A.This is because schools must adhere to Alberta's guidelines for reopening post-secondaries and residences."So social distancing, doing all of the health checks prior to entry, students that are coming from distance and under the Alberta government guidelines are required to self isolate — we will work to facilitate that process as well," said Jim Booth, executive director of ancillary services at the U of L.In many cases students will be assigned a specific time slot to move in."Because we want to make sure we're doing it in such a way that that students aren't crowding spaces [like elevators and stairwells]," said Mark Keller, director of residence services at MRU.No more dorm lifeThe University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge will also either close or significantly reduce the capacity in dormitory style residences this fall for the same reasons as the U of C.Students in Edmonton and Lethbridge won't see any price increases.Booth said prices quoted as early as November to students are the prices U of L students can expect."We believe that the students have enough anxiety in figuring out how they're going to do classes which have pivoted online and if they're moving away from home in this very very difficult and high anxiety time," he said."The last thing we want to do is throw anything additional anxiety at them. So we've said the price is the price."The U of A agrees.The rates being charged for September 2020 were approved by the board of governors and presented to students in November, Huising said."Those rates have been set and there will not be an impact on students."At the U of L, Booth said students will now live in apartment-style residences, with their own cooking faciliites and rooms but a shared living room and kitchen space.Both schools say that at most, two students will share a bathroom.Mount Royal University does not offer dormitory style residences, but said they are reducing capacity in their apartment style units."We are now going to be housing two people in our four bedroom units and one person in our two bedroom units just to make them safer," said Keller. "And, they don't have to share a bathroom which is good."In most cases, the schools said students will not be permitted to have visitors in residence for the time being."Unless there's an extraordinary circumstance which we will facilitate for those particular cases," said Booth. "But otherwise it's not just anybody coming and going. It will be very controlled."He said students can also expect some help with cleaning."We will kind of impose ourselves on the students a little bit because we're gonna come in and we're going to make sure that we wipe down bathrooms and kitchens," he said.Food servicesThe University of Alberta said their food services will remain open, but students should not be expecting the bustle of a cafeteria or the ability to eat at tables with their peers."They go into the dining hall where we have takeaway containers. They make their selections and they're served by the staff there and then they take their containers back to their room," said Huising, adding that the process is being tested over the summer in preparation for fall.Usually first-year students at the U of L living in University Hall, Kainai house or Piikani House are automatically enrolled in a dining plan, with no opt-out option, but this year that will not be required as all students will have access to their own cooking facilities.MRU does not offer meal plans.When it comes to other shared spaces in residences, the schools say they will all be enhancing cleaning and sanitization, as well as placing a number of hand-sanitization stations at entrances.Some shared spaces at the residences will be closed for now."We do have some spaces and we'll be monitoring those to see how they're being used will but we will likely take the furniture out of most of them to keep students from gathering," said Keller."We do have laundry rooms ... and we'll be taping off some of the machines so that the capacity in those rooms is less."At the U of L, students will be required to wear masks when in shared spaces, including hallways. They'll also be required to wear a mask within their apartments if they can't ensure two-metre spacing.Booth said each student living in residence will be provided with at least three reusable masks.Students will also get a coloured lanyards to denote which residence they belong to."This is in addition to their ID card, so that we can tell at a glance that a student belongs in a specific residence unit so we can create bubbles," he said, adding that these rules are subject to change depending on government recommendations.The universities say that while they know these changes are not ideal, campus officials will be doing everything they can to welcome students and build community.Student isolation spacesWith many students potentially travelling from other countries or provinces, and knowing some students may get sick while in student housing, the schools said they've set aside spaces for isolation.At MRU, Kellery said they've got a plan in place to support those students."And make sure they're being communicated with and if they need anything that it's being brought to them and left outside their door," he said.Similar steps have been taken at the U of A and the U of L."We have flex up to about 56 beds but we're putting aside initially 20 beds on standby," said Booth. Those beds will be available for students required to isolate upon arrival, or for any students who may develop COVID-19 symptoms during the year."We will ensure we can take the individual and isolate them into a unit where they can undergo 10 to 14 days isolation," he said.


COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Monday, July 13

COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Monday, July 13A new case of COVID-19 was announced Sunday, which does not appear to be related to the cluster connected to Whisperwood Villa last week.The testing station for COVID-19 is back up and running again at Confederation Bridge, after complaints from truckers.A second round of tests at Whisperwood Villa have all come back negative.The Downtown Farmers' Market returned to Charlottetown with COVID-19 precautions in place.Health PEI told employees in an email earlier this week that all staff who come in contact with patients and who aren't able to physically distance must now wear medical masks.Education Minister Brad Trivers gave more details to CBC News on how schools will operate in the fall — students will not be required to physically distance in classrooms or on buses, he said, but may have to wear face masks in hallways.P.E.I. has had a total of 34 COVID-19 cases, with 27 considered recovered.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.


Scientist ankle deep in bog water to better understand unique wetland

Scientist ankle deep in bog water to better understand unique wetlandOn this particular overcast day, Sean Blaney, executive director and senior scientist with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, left the house at 5:00 am, a little later than he would have liked, to perform his field work at the Alward Brook Bog. It's located down a network of exceedingly difficult to manoeuvre logging roads, north of Havelock.Blaney is compiling a list of flora and fauna he sees at the bog in order to better understand how significant these wetlands are.The plants found in the open, damp conditions of a bog are specialized, and often don't occur in other habitats. "They're very good at tolerating the harsh conditions of the bog but they aren't good at surviving in better conditions in competition with other plants," said Blaney.Blaney, senior scientist at the centre, is leading a study of peat bogs in New Brunswick to better understand the rare species that are living within.He describes a bog as like a "a giant sponge on the landscape." "It's an area that's composed of peat that's thousands of years of dead plants, built up in a thick mat sometimes metres thick," he said.Blaney had made two significant findings, a bog fern, a.k.a. Massachusetts Fern (Coryphopteris simulata) and a small orchid, the Southern Twayblade (Neottia bifolia).He'd found 'an impressive amount' of the fern just outside the north side of the bog. It was the rarest species Blaney found that day. "It was previously known in New Brunswick only from the Grand Lake to the Minto area," said Blaney.The Southern Twayblade is a species provincially listed under the NB Endangered Species Act.To many people a fern is a fern, and it's hard to see how long days in ankle deep bogs are worth the possibility of coming across an unexpected variety, but Blaney's findings affect policy and industry."That information is digitized and put into our large Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre database where it's available for conservation decision making through the future," said Blaney.All the information he and two other botanists find in the field this summer is compiled in the fall. "If there was a peat extraction proposal for this particular bog, then the proponent would have to come to the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre and get our data, they would find out that I did find that Southern Twayblade," said Blaney.And that small orchid could be a large factor in whether peat would be allowed to be extracted from the site. And it's a question Blaney expects will be asked sooner than later."I think there's a good chance that in the future, with the financial situation of the province, there will be more pressure to allow more Crown leases in peat lands for extraction," he said.Peat extraction on crown lands is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Development. It's website states 70 per cent of peat lands with commercial potential are located on Crown land.Companies that extract peat on Crown land are required to have a reclamation plan to restore it to a wetland. But it takes thousands of years to for a peat bog to form.Blaney is hoping that some of the land he's studying will be considered when the province goes through with it's promise to double the amount of protected land by 2021."Bogs are one of the areas, one of the types of habitats that is perhaps relatively easy to protect in comparison to forested landscapes," he said. "There's less demand for bogs overall than there is for forests and for the wood in the forest."The peat bog study is funded by the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund and will look at bogs along the southern and eastern parts of the province."We have a bunch of bogs near Moncton, a few bogs in Grand Lake area and a few in Kouchibouguac," he said.Bogs make up about two per cent of New Brunswick's land mass, with most of the peat extracted used for horticultural.


Monday 13th of July 2020 11:10:14

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Alberta universities plan to do away with dormitory residences during COVID-19 pandemic

Alberta universities plan to do away with dormitory residences during COVID-19 pandemicFirst-year University of Calgary students who were destined for dormitory-style residences will now be moved to apartment-style residences to allow for better physical distancing — but the move comes with a price increase of $3,000.The university's website says it has chosen not to use traditional dormitory-style residences this fall because of the shared washroom facilities, and that first-year student communities would be established in buildings with two and three-bedroom suites."You can expect a rate increase of about $3,000 for the academic year, compared to a traditional double room," the website reads. It adds a meal plan is not included."We understand this may cause some challenges. However, the new room assignments are in place to maintain everyone's health and safety while staying with us."Despite the move, it remains mandatory for first-year students living in residence at the U of C to purchase a meal plan.Assad Ali Bik, student union (SU) vice-president of student life, said the increase in cost to students is why the SU is advocating for emergency funding — especially for first-year students.The U of C did not make anyone available for an interview but asked CBC News to check back for updates in July."Maintaining the safety of students living in residence is a priority of the University of Calgary," the university said in a statement."Residence Services is currently exploring various options to house students, including residence life programming, adhering to [the] Alberta government's re-opening rules and guidelines."Esther Nwafor has lived in multiple U of C residences and moved out in June after experiencing persistent internet issues brought on by a shortage of IT staffing.She said life in residence has become lonely during the pandemic. "I would probably not stay in residence if I was a first-year student right now," she said.Nwafor said higher costs may make staying in residence prohibitive. In addition, physical distancing will make it more difficult to build community."Residence did help me make some of my friends that I still have today," she said. Other Alberta universities are also making changes to their residences for the fall in case COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. Here's what you can expect at some of the province's post-secondary institutions.Move inThe University of Lethbridge, University of Alberta and Mount Royal University said they won't have their usual one-day move-in process."Rather than focusing all of our move on a single day we're looking at, can we spread it out over a period of time to allow them to arrive with one or two family members and set up," said Katherine Huising, associate vice-president of ancillary services with the U of A.This is because schools must adhere to Alberta's guidelines for reopening post-secondaries and residences."So social distancing, doing all of the health checks prior to entry, students that are coming from distance and under the Alberta government guidelines are required to self isolate — we will work to facilitate that process as well," said Jim Booth, executive director of ancillary services at the U of L.In many cases students will be assigned a specific time slot to move in."Because we want to make sure we're doing it in such a way that that students aren't crowding spaces [like elevators and stairwells]," said Mark Keller, director of residence services at MRU.No more dorm lifeThe University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge will also either close or significantly reduce the capacity in dormitory style residences this fall for the same reasons as the U of C.Students in Edmonton and Lethbridge won't see any price increases.Booth said prices quoted as early as November to students are the prices U of L students can expect."We believe that the students have enough anxiety in figuring out how they're going to do classes which have pivoted online and if they're moving away from home in this very very difficult and high anxiety time," he said."The last thing we want to do is throw anything additional anxiety at them. So we've said the price is the price."The U of A agrees.The rates being charged for September 2020 were approved by the board of governors and presented to students in November, Huising said."Those rates have been set and there will not be an impact on students."At the U of L, Booth said students will now live in apartment-style residences, with their own cooking faciliites and rooms but a shared living room and kitchen space.Both schools say that at most, two students will share a bathroom.Mount Royal University does not offer dormitory style residences, but said they are reducing capacity in their apartment style units."We are now going to be housing two people in our four bedroom units and one person in our two bedroom units just to make them safer," said Keller. "And, they don't have to share a bathroom which is good."In most cases, the schools said students will not be permitted to have visitors in residence for the time being."Unless there's an extraordinary circumstance which we will facilitate for those particular cases," said Booth. "But otherwise it's not just anybody coming and going. It will be very controlled."He said students can also expect some help with cleaning."We will kind of impose ourselves on the students a little bit because we're gonna come in and we're going to make sure that we wipe down bathrooms and kitchens," he said.Food servicesThe University of Alberta said their food services will remain open, but students should not be expecting the bustle of a cafeteria or the ability to eat at tables with their peers."They go into the dining hall where we have takeaway containers. They make their selections and they're served by the staff there and then they take their containers back to their room," said Huising, adding that the process is being tested over the summer in preparation for fall.Usually first-year students at the U of L living in University Hall, Kainai house or Piikani House are automatically enrolled in a dining plan, with no opt-out option, but this year that will not be required as all students will have access to their own cooking facilities.MRU does not offer meal plans.When it comes to other shared spaces in residences, the schools say they will all be enhancing cleaning and sanitization, as well as placing a number of hand-sanitization stations at entrances.Some shared spaces at the residences will be closed for now."We do have some spaces and we'll be monitoring those to see how they're being used will but we will likely take the furniture out of most of them to keep students from gathering," said Keller."We do have laundry rooms ... and we'll be taping off some of the machines so that the capacity in those rooms is less."At the U of L, students will be required to wear masks when in shared spaces, including hallways. They'll also be required to wear a mask within their apartments if they can't ensure two-metre spacing.Booth said each student living in residence will be provided with at least three reusable masks.Students will also get a coloured lanyards to denote which residence they belong to."This is in addition to their ID card, so that we can tell at a glance that a student belongs in a specific residence unit so we can create bubbles," he said, adding that these rules are subject to change depending on government recommendations.The universities say that while they know these changes are not ideal, campus officials will be doing everything they can to welcome students and build community.Student isolation spacesWith many students potentially travelling from other countries or provinces, and knowing some students may get sick while in student housing, the schools said they've set aside spaces for isolation.At MRU, Kellery said they've got a plan in place to support those students."And make sure they're being communicated with and if they need anything that it's being brought to them and left outside their door," he said.Similar steps have been taken at the U of A and the U of L."We have flex up to about 56 beds but we're putting aside initially 20 beds on standby," said Booth. Those beds will be available for students required to isolate upon arrival, or for any students who may develop COVID-19 symptoms during the year."We will ensure we can take the individual and isolate them into a unit where they can undergo 10 to 14 days isolation," he said.


COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Monday, July 13

COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What's happening Monday, July 13A new case of COVID-19 was announced Sunday, which does not appear to be related to the cluster connected to Whisperwood Villa last week.The testing station for COVID-19 is back up and running again at Confederation Bridge, after complaints from truckers.A second round of tests at Whisperwood Villa have all come back negative.The Downtown Farmers' Market returned to Charlottetown with COVID-19 precautions in place.Health PEI told employees in an email earlier this week that all staff who come in contact with patients and who aren't able to physically distance must now wear medical masks.Education Minister Brad Trivers gave more details to CBC News on how schools will operate in the fall — students will not be required to physically distance in classrooms or on buses, he said, but may have to wear face masks in hallways.P.E.I. has had a total of 34 COVID-19 cases, with 27 considered recovered.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.


Scientist ankle deep in bog water to better understand unique wetland

Scientist ankle deep in bog water to better understand unique wetlandOn this particular overcast day, Sean Blaney, executive director and senior scientist with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, left the house at 5:00 am, a little later than he would have liked, to perform his field work at the Alward Brook Bog. It's located down a network of exceedingly difficult to manoeuvre logging roads, north of Havelock.Blaney is compiling a list of flora and fauna he sees at the bog in order to better understand how significant these wetlands are.The plants found in the open, damp conditions of a bog are specialized, and often don't occur in other habitats. "They're very good at tolerating the harsh conditions of the bog but they aren't good at surviving in better conditions in competition with other plants," said Blaney.Blaney, senior scientist at the centre, is leading a study of peat bogs in New Brunswick to better understand the rare species that are living within.He describes a bog as like a "a giant sponge on the landscape." "It's an area that's composed of peat that's thousands of years of dead plants, built up in a thick mat sometimes metres thick," he said.Blaney had made two significant findings, a bog fern, a.k.a. Massachusetts Fern (Coryphopteris simulata) and a small orchid, the Southern Twayblade (Neottia bifolia).He'd found 'an impressive amount' of the fern just outside the north side of the bog. It was the rarest species Blaney found that day. "It was previously known in New Brunswick only from the Grand Lake to the Minto area," said Blaney.The Southern Twayblade is a species provincially listed under the NB Endangered Species Act.To many people a fern is a fern, and it's hard to see how long days in ankle deep bogs are worth the possibility of coming across an unexpected variety, but Blaney's findings affect policy and industry."That information is digitized and put into our large Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre database where it's available for conservation decision making through the future," said Blaney.All the information he and two other botanists find in the field this summer is compiled in the fall. "If there was a peat extraction proposal for this particular bog, then the proponent would have to come to the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre and get our data, they would find out that I did find that Southern Twayblade," said Blaney.And that small orchid could be a large factor in whether peat would be allowed to be extracted from the site. And it's a question Blaney expects will be asked sooner than later."I think there's a good chance that in the future, with the financial situation of the province, there will be more pressure to allow more Crown leases in peat lands for extraction," he said.Peat extraction on crown lands is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Development. It's website states 70 per cent of peat lands with commercial potential are located on Crown land.Companies that extract peat on Crown land are required to have a reclamation plan to restore it to a wetland. But it takes thousands of years to for a peat bog to form.Blaney is hoping that some of the land he's studying will be considered when the province goes through with it's promise to double the amount of protected land by 2021."Bogs are one of the areas, one of the types of habitats that is perhaps relatively easy to protect in comparison to forested landscapes," he said. "There's less demand for bogs overall than there is for forests and for the wood in the forest."The peat bog study is funded by the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund and will look at bogs along the southern and eastern parts of the province."We have a bunch of bogs near Moncton, a few bogs in Grand Lake area and a few in Kouchibouguac," he said.Bogs make up about two per cent of New Brunswick's land mass, with most of the peat extracted used for horticultural.


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