Update: Fall Semester and COVID-19

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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To: the supporting community of CRTS

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings from the faculty and staff of CRTS. We pray that your summer is being blessed. Some of our regular activities are still being curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, our heavenly Father has mercifully restrained the spread of the disease in many countries such that we have some more opportunities and less restrictions than previously. Although we are thankful for this trend, we are all aware that significant challenges could yet lie ahead of us.

You may be wondering, “How will all this affect the Fall 2020 semester at CRTS?” After discussing this with faculty, staff, and the Board of Governors, we began to focus on several key objectives that are shaping our plan:

  • Provide the best education we can for all our students.
  • Act responsibly to protect everyone’s health by following government guidelines.
  • Recognize that, due to travel or visa restrictions related to COVID-19, some of our international students may find it harder, or simply impossible, to enter Canada in time for the beginning of the fall semester.
  • Plan for the possibility that we may have to deal with a second wave of the COVID-19 infection in the coming months.
  • Take into account that if anyone in the CRTS community develops certain symptoms during the course of the semester they will be advised to stay home and, in some cases, may have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Considering these goals, we have decided to prepare for a hybrid model for the fall semester. What exactly does this mean? Well, it can be summarized in this phrase: face-to-face education as much as possible and online learning as much as necessary.

As you know, half-way through the Winter 2020 semester CRTS, like most other schools, had to pivot suddenly to online education. After the semester we did a survey among faculty and students that indicated two main things:

  • We could use online technology in an effective way.
  • Online learning, though certainly possible, is less than ideal in numerous ways.

Neither of those conclusions surprised us, but now we have lived through the reality of them. Our “Zoom survey” also highlighted that it is more challenging to remain motivated and focussed when faculty and students are connected via computers rather than interacting with each other face-to-face. On the flip side, when we had to be linked through video conferencing, we also learned to make the most of it. We even managed virtual coffee time and a memorable chapel to finish the year!

With all these things in mind, CRTS is preparing for face-to-face education in the Fall 2020 semester while fully respecting government guidelines. We have small class sizes that will hopefully make this possible.  Also, it goes without saying that the ministry of the gospel is best fulfilled through personal and in-person interaction with God’s people; training for this ministry should aim for nothing less. Having said that, if there are extenuating circumstances that prevent a student from coming to Hamilton, or if students have to stay away from the campus during the semester due to sickness, we are also preparing to serve them in the best way that we can using the technology that is available to us.

Some of you have also be asking about Convocation in September. We certainly hope that we will be able to have Convocation in person, but we will have to see what the government regulations allow.  We still have some time before we need to make firm decisions about that. Our Convocation Committee plans to meet again in mid-July. We will provide a further update at that time.

As the familiar benediction assures us, may the Lord bless us, keep us, and make his face to shine upon us (Num 6:24-26).

On behalf of the CRTS faculty and staff,

Dr. Jason Van Vliet (principal)