A cautious return

On March 19, the University of Winnipeg (U of W) announced its intention to resume in-person classes on campus in the upcoming fall 2021 term.

This is huge news. It is, of course, conditional to several factors.

“Based on the current timeline of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Manitoba, we are optimistically preparing for the return of in-person programming ... for the 2021 fall term,” the statement from U of W interim president Dr. James Currie reads. “Decisions related to our re-opening will be aligned with public health guidance ... Our plans for the 2021-22 academic year will evolve along with new health information and we will be adaptable if required.”

This is exciting news for us at The Uniter,  but we, too, need to remain adaptable.

There are a lot of questions about what a return to humans on campus means for our newspaper. The top priority will be ensuring that print copies of the paper are available for those on site. We’ve spent the last 12 months publishing exclusively online, which has been the saddest development for me personally. While journalism and writing can flourish anywhere in the digital world, I still have a love for a good old-fashioned physical newspaper.

But while I look forward to returning to our cramped little cave office in the Bulman Centre mezzanine, it’s still unclear when it will be safe for all of our staff to gather in that office for in-person pitch meetings again. There’s a big difference between one or two people in a cramped office and one or two dozen.

Like physical newspapers versus online journalism, there’s really no substitute for the creativity and energy of an in-person meeting, developing stories, sharing contacts and brainstorming together. Zoom has helped pick up some of the slack, but it’s not the same.

However the next few months shake down, we’re looking forward to taking baby steps to return to campus with the U of W’s vibrant community of students, faculty and staff.

Published in Volume 75, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 25, 2021)

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