March 30-April 3
March 30-April 3
Update: March 30, 2020, 11:30 AM
Message from Craig Stephenson to our Students
Dear Centennial College community and, most notably, our students:
As we enter week three of these new and uncharted times, I wanted to reach out to you with a heartfelt message of solidarity and support and to share some key updates.
Students: I know that I speak for our entire faculty and staff when I say that here at Centennial, you are the most important people in our world. We care deeply about your health, safety and personal wellbeing, and we are all here to support you and do our utmost to help facilitate your academic success.
It has been often repeated, but these are truly “unprecedented times.” It feels as though the world has stopped in its tracks as we attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19 through physical distancing. As our government, public health officials and health care workers are telling us, and as we have seen in China, South Korea and elsewhere, we have a chance, right here, right now, to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic, and, ultimately, to save lives.
We need to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities, and prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed. Our College has always been committed to the success of our students, but we know that we also have a responsibility to the larger community we serve. To that end, we are donating 500 masks that our partners at Suzhou Centennial College in China have shipped to us, along with personal protective equipment and supplies from our School of Community and Health Studies, our School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science, and our School of Transportation. Our School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts has also worked with their partner, Second Harvest, to donate and distribute essential food supplies to those in need during this time of crisis. These items include milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, frozen meats and seafood, as well as shelf-stable items such as cereals, flour, rice and other grains.
These are just a few examples of the outreach and “caremongering” activities we are currently working on with our community partners. As I am sure you will agree, supporting our community and helping those in need are very much at the core of who we are as an institution.
And while Centennial’s campuses may be closed, I want to recognize our faculty and staff who have continued working diligently to move our curriculum and services online so that our students can complete the winter semester – in many cases, on April 17, the original semester end date. While the academic experience this semester will have a different look and feel to it, it will nonetheless remain fulsome and intact.
Students, I know that you are worried about completing your studies in this new format. Many of you are juggling multiple responsibilities and grappling with financial and family concerns while navigating a new way of learning and engaging. Without doubt, these are likely some of the most anxiety-provoking times you will ever have to endure. Please know that we are here to help at every step and every turn. This week we'll be finalizing additional pieces, including pro-rated refunds of some fees and additional supports – please keep an eye out for those announcements. In the meantime, we are offering a wide range of services online and over the phone, including success advising, counselling, tutoring, library supports, information technology and career advising. We have reconfigured all of these services and others to meet your needs during this time. You can also visit our website for updates and additional information on all of our student success services and resources.
On that note, I’m pleased to announce that Centennial has taken delivery of 5,000 Chromebooks, which we are loaning out to enrolled students who do not have access to an adequate computer. We’re distributing the Chromebooks by appointment to observe public health protocols and limit the number of people on campus at any one time. For any students who legitimately require the loan of a Chromebook but who have not reserved one yet, please see the notice posted on eCentennial, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, Chromebooks require access to the internet, and we are aware that not everyone has a reliable home internet connection. For those who do not currently have access to a home internet connection, we’re working on a plan to help students with that, too. We will be providing more details on this initiative soon.
Please stay home and stay safe. Continue, as I know you are doing, to wash your hands frequently and practice physical distancing of two metres. But physical distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t be social – far from it! Now is the time to stay connected and engaged with others, whether you’re chatting with neighbours from your balcony, calling friends and loved ones on the phone, or engaging in a myriad of ways online. Please limit your trips to stores, but do try to get outside once a day, if you can, for a little exercise and fresh air.
We are all part of the Centennial family, an incredibly caring and close-knit community, so please don’t ever feel that you are alone. Reach out if you need a listening ear or just want to chat, and if you see your fellow students struggling, please reach out to them too and encourage them to connect with us. For those who are having difficulty coping with this situation, your kindness and willingness to reach out to them means more than you know.
Thank-you for demonstrating kindness to one another, for your efforts to adapt and adopt new ways of learning, and for embracing the unknown. We are all the stronger and more effective for it, and you have my assurance, that we will get through this together and ultimately overcome COVID-19.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Craig Stephenson, President and CEO