SASKATOON -- About 90 per cent of University of Saskatchewan students will be learning online this fall, vice-provost of teaching, learning and student experience Patti McDougall said.

“Preparations have been ongoing for the last many months. People have been re-visioning and rethinking how we do something like orientation and also faculty members and graduate students helping to reflect on academic goals in courses and revision that for a remote environment.”

Orientation takes place on Wednesday via online meetings with regular classes resuming Thursday.

McDougall says they had first year students in mind to ensure they transitioned well into post-secondary education.

“Those who have been involved in orientation activities have seen it as a fun challenge to revision, how are we going to create community and belonging.”

That will be done through live streaming and web conferencing to engage students.

First year student Kseniah Pidskalny said she knows her first year experience will be different because of COVID-19, but said the pandemic pushed her to go to university now.

“I had decided to move home from B.C. when COVID hit and then thought why don’t I go to school while I’m here.”

She’s not sure if she will thrive in an online learning setting, but will see how it goes.

“It was all going to be new for me anyway being a first year, and it’s all about starting something new.”

Missing out on face to face interaction with professors will be tough as well as the social aspect of being in class with other students.

“I’ve always thought of school as a networking opportunity and unfortunately that has been withdrawn a little bit, but hopefully I’ll have that chance in the future.”

Some studies such as dentistry, medicine, nursing, physical therapy and veterinary medicine will still be doing some in-person work on campus.

Jessi Siemens is studying to be a dental assistant and will be finishing most of her coursework in labs on campus before she gets her certificate in about a month’s time.

“We have do have protocols to follow. We have to wear a mask at all times in the lab, even when you’re walking up the stairs and if you can’t be six feet apart you have to wear a face shield.”

She feels safe with the measures in place and plans to take it all in stride.