Two Christian post-secondary colleges are excited about the return to in-class learning and the registration numbers are proving it.
Steinbach Bible College (SBC) and Providence University College and Theological Seminary are both showing good registration numbers for the 2021 – 2022 school year.
“Our enrollment is fairly similar to a year ago. We have very strong returning student numbers, but the first-year numbers are lower than normal and that's to be expected. We haven't been able to go out and do recruiting in churches, youth groups and college fairs for 18 months. So, that's not a surprise to anyone," the president of SBC, Rob Reimer, says.
Dr. Nicholas Greco, Registrar at Providence University College and Theological Seminary says “our numbers are good this year. We won't know the final numbers for a week or so, because we're just at the beginning of the school year. Right now, they're looking to be where we are expecting them, and that's good news for us after a pandemic year.”
Both SBC and Providence also have a good number of on-campus international students this year, slightly up from a year ago.
Reimer says their staff has been working really hard to create a safe place for learning, living and life at SBC. There are many protocols in place and Reimer says, “it’s a great time to be a small school”
He continues saying “you know, with roughly 120 students, most of our classes, with the exception of a handful, are under 25. So, the restrictions have a minimal impact on our classes in that regard.”
Reimer mentions that SBC is following all of the government regulations, one of which is that a student does not need to be vaccinated to go to school. However, SBC does require everyone to wear a mask indoors. Still, he says “the students are very, very grateful that they can be at school studying.”
Students and staff at Providence are feeling very much the same when it comes to following government regulations because of COVID.
“I think they're handling them well. We all know that restrictions aren't always easy to follow, but I think many of us are used to keeping some distance between each other and wearing masks indoors, and so on," Greco says. "I think I could speak for all of our students, and all of the staff and faculty here as well, to say that we'll be very happy when the pandemic is over and we're not under the kinds of restrictions that we are currently.”
Both SBC and Providence offer online courses and both schools are adhering to the 25 students per class regulation.
“There's such a buzz and a positive energy around where students are excited to come to class," Reimer says. "They're excited to see each other again, and that just rubs off on all of us, faculty and staff. So, it's a wonderful time of year. It's really is just a lot of fun to be at college.”
Greco agrees when it comes to seeing the full dorms and school hallways.
“It's a very different atmosphere than it was last year and students are excited to be here. Staff and faculty are excited to serve them. It's a great atmosphere on campus," Greco says.
Talking about seeing all the students on campus, the president of SBC says, “it feels in some ways a little more normal. Obviously, we are strongly encouraging anyone who has not been vaccinated to get vaccinated and we have conversations with students. I believe that's reaping positive results. So, you know, all in all, things are going well.”
Speaking honestly, Reimer says “we are anticipating that we're going to get COVID on campus. I mean, I think every campus will, but we have protocols in place and we feel that we can provide a safe place living within the regulations that the Manitoba government is outlined for us.”
The Registrar at Providence says “as you know, everyone knows that this pandemic has not been easy for anybody. But this is maybe just a glimpse of what normal life is going to be like, even amidst all of the restrictions. We're happy to do what we feel we do best here.”
When it comes to going back to ‘normal’ activities, both campuses are able to bring back choral and singing in chapel.
Steinbach Bible College is planning for November performances of their major drama production of “The Princess Bride” if government regulations permit.
Providence University College is pleased to be able to be playing sports again. They are requiring their athletes to be vaccinated to play indoor sports, and outdoor soccer games can have the stands full of fans once again.
Written by Adi Loewen