DC’s Oshawa, Whitby campuses close due to COVID-19

Durham College has officially closed its Oshawa and Whitby campuses in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Photo credit: Tara Sottile

Just a day after moving all its classes online, Durham College (DC) has officially closed its Oshawa and Whitby campuses as part its ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis.

DC informed its campus community by email that students, faculty and employees will no longer be able to access the locations until further notice.

The email also said labs, shops and studio instruction, which were to begin on April 6, are now postponed.

DC’s campus neighbour, Ontario Tech University, has also moved to online classes. Its website asks users to “avoid visiting campus unnecessarily”.

DC has had an elevated response to COVID-19 this month.

On March 13, it announced a week’s hiatus in classes as the college made a switch to online classes which began Monday, March 23.

DC president Don Lovisa says the switch to online courses has gone over quite well, noting the college already offers a lot of hybrid and online courses.

He says there are some challenges students have been facing when it comes to making the switch.

“There’s a number of groups that we’ve heard from not only locally, but also provincially that maybe lack the technology to access the courses and may lack the software required or may not have wifi or poor internet connection,” Lovisa adds.

Richard Jules, DC’s director, user support services, says moving classes online hasn’t caused a change in the department.

“Since the move to predominant online teaching, the number of tickets (individuals requiring technical support) are approximately the same, but we see significantly less walk-up tickets and more tickets being requested virtually,” Jules says.

Lovisa says DC decided to move classes online based on advice they received from the Canadian and provincial governments.

“The college system of 24 colleges worked together to try to make decisions that are consistent across all colleges,” he says.

“I mean, ultimately, it comes down to your safety as a student and doing our part to ensure that we help to flatten the curve that’s often referred to.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, multiple colleges and universities in Ontario have cancelled or postponed convocation. Lovisa says DC is going to wait to see what happens for DC’s annual graduation ceremonies, scheduled for June 8-10 at the Tribute Communities Centre in downtown Oshawa.

“We’re just seeing what the next couple of weeks bring. It’s not until June. So we think that we have time to make a decision for students, parents and everybody else,” he says.

Lovisa wants faculty, students and employees to know if they need assistance during the next few weeks, to ask for it.

“I think students, employees and faculty are trying to do things a little bit different this week. So I mean, I wish all of them success, and to remember to ask for help if you need help,” he says.