Dr. Bryn Kulmatycki on COVID-19

Dr. Bryn Kulmatycki is the public face of Northern Lights College as its president and CEO, a proud northerner who strongly believes in the educational opportunities the region has to offer.

More than 30 full-time programs run at the college, and Kulmatycki wants the public to know that the Collge is doing its best to help students during this unexpected pandemic.

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On COVID-19:

It's a very disruptive circumstance. It was suddenly imposed on the whole world; everyone had to respond immediately, you didn't really have time to process. I think the world has gone through a sort of culture shock. It came on suddenly and the effects are still being felt. 

But we are fully operational, we are open. The objective right now is to help students finish their programs. We've put everything online, that took a few days to set up, but we've transitioned well. We've had a great response from all of our faculty and staff to support that. It'd be tragic if they couldn't finish.

How he's adjusting:

There are a few programs that require face-to-face interactions, but fortunately since we're at nearing the end of the semester, most of the face-to-face work has already been completed. Lab work, and in trades, that was already finished. The ones that aren't are still functioning, but they aren't functioning at the College. Two that come to mind are health programs, practical nursing and healthcare assistants. Those students are all on practicum, working at the Fort St. John Hospital. They are on the frontlines and they are studying under licensed professionals.

Personal precautions:

We are using social distancing here, and the other thing is heightened sanitization. The custodial staff is disinfecting on a daily basis. We've added some extra regulations in the residences. Most of our staff, the vast majority work from home. That's functioning very well, but it does slow communication. We still have a few frontline staff that was declared essential services.

All the student services are going with the exception of those that require face-to-face delivery. For example, the cafeteria, we had to shut that down, the bookstore we had to shut that down as well. No direct services. But we can still mail out books that students need.

Helping in the community:

We are working very closely with Northern Health, and at the College we have a health sciences building. In that building, there's a lot of medical equipment, so we help provide equipment as they require it. That includes hospital beds; we basically have a fully functioning hospital ward here. If they need it, they can borrow it.

How long will this last?

The word that we're getting from the health folks at the province is that it will be at least summer until we see some kind of normalcy. We are looking at doing more theory online first for programs in September and then adding in practical work as restrictions lift.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca.

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