March 13, 2021 marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic led to Humber campus closures and brought tidal waves of change for staff, faculty, students and the wider Humber College community.
In March of 2020, the college announced it would cease on-site classes for a week. Nobody knew what the future would bring, but the community united to move forward.
Throughout the first two weeks of March, Humber Today will publish stories showcasing the exceptional efforts of various departments, clubs and individuals over the last 365 days as part of a #HumberTogether Series.
The series will highlight a variety of efforts and wins throughout the year, but there are also a myriad of other stories of success and great effort from the Humber community. Often, this work includes the collaboration of various departments and individuals, like Humber’s involvement in food insecurity initiatives.
The projects include supporting GlobalMedic’s local emergency response, student government IGNITE’s food insecurity plan and work in the community facilitated by Humber's Community Outreach and Workforce Development (COWD), Faculty of Business, Faculty of Media & Creative Arts departments and Urban Harvest Toronto.
There has also been a massive, multi-department effort to help students academically and to provide a robust online learning experience for students and faculty with opportunities to engage meaningfully with peers and professors using different platforms and technology.
The Open Learning Centre (OLC) created two learning kits – one for faculty and one for students – quickly. The need for such initiatives was strong as soon as campus closed temporarily. Since March 2020, the kits have evolved and expanded and are now integrated into the Centre’s other offerings.
Students can find resources at www.humberonline.ca. The website features an Online Journey and Support menu that will help them navigate virtual classrooms and online learning.
The Centre also created a Faculty Learning Kit, which has become part of Humber’s Teaching and Learning site. The information is meant to support faculty through the transition and includes educational video resources, a Blackboard Online Q & A forum and the option to contact the Open Learning Centre for further support.
Despite the changes to course delivery, many important events and activities were still held, including a virtual graduation celebration and Convocation. Humber's Student Life department shifted Open Houses and Welcome Weeks online. The organizers say that each event was informed by the last as they learned from each experience.
New scholarship and funding opportunities have also arisen. So far, more than $1 million has been raised for the Support Our Students (SOS) Fund, which includes contributions from IGNITE and matching funds provided by Humber. Most of this support was raised in just a few weeks in spring 2020.
In addition to the SOS Fund, Humber has awarded more than 7,600 emergency bursaries since March 13.
There have also been dozens of virtual performances hosted by Humber and its departments. In July, students from the Bachelor of Music program and the Bachelor of Film and Media program collaborated on a video compilation of O Canada, sung in tribute to frontline and health-care workers.
The collaboration allowed students to get work placement hours – and much-needed honourariums.
Geographic borders may be closed, but Humber’s International Centre found a way to connect students internationally, like the Beyond COVID 19: Global Systems Gap Challenge,
The five-week challenge brought together 378 participants who joined virtually from 26 countries, most of whom were Humber students from different academic programs. Eighty-six participants were students from global academic partners or prospective Humber College students.
Together, student teams, mentored by Humber faculty, staff and industry experts, were challenged to identify systemic issues in business, education, social innovation and health and wellness.
COVID-19 has even changed the way faculties and programs showcase their work and the community has risen to the challenge, especially students.
Humber’s Information and Communications Technology cluster usually hosts an annual Capstone Project Expo but couldn’t because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Traditionally, the expo is the kind of event where students present year-end projects so strong that industry players hire them on the spot.
Project displays are crucial for connecting students with faculty, industry, and future career prospects based on their skills and knowledge, so they moved the event online.
They put all the projects in one place for industry and others to review year-round, which gives potential employers the chance to peruse the website for projects that interest them, leading to employment connections.
Through it all, Humber has also provided continuity in services, especially those that support positive mental health and wellness.
For more information on how Humber College is tackling the pandemic and important updates on returning to campus, COVID-19 reporting and FAQs, visit humber.ca/updates.