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Squamish's Quest University seeking to reopen in the fall

School president George Iwama says he's looking forward to the next challenge after taking a two-month break for his health late last year.
Squamish campus of Quest University.

After having closed its doors due to COVID-19, Quest University Canada is hoping to bring back in-person classes this coming fall.

President George Iwama told The Chief no concrete plans have been made and the school has not been issued any approvals to reopen, but it is working on finding a way to make it happen.

The school, like most post-secondary institutions, has been offering its classes online for this school year.

"We have not received any message or approval from the ministry to say you're cleared for on-campus — nobody can say that really," said Iwama.

"The thing is people have to start making plans sooner or later."

The university's announcement, made on March 8, happened around the time Anne Kang, B.C.'s minister of advanced education, said post-secondary institutions will start preparing for a full return to campus in the fall.

While the minister didn't explicitly provide approval for post-secondary schools to open up, the tone of the message was hopeful.

"Today, Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, advised the presidents of all public colleges and universities to prepare for a full return to on-campus education this September,' said Kang in a news release.

"This year has been incredibly hard, and I've heard from many students, faculty and staff who are eager to return to campus when it is safe. That's why I'm encouraged by Dr. Henry's advice that a return to in-person instruction can be done safely this fall for all students, staff and faculty. In fact, it's important to do so for people's well-being."

Kang said the province will be undergoing a planning process to help institutions resume classes in September.

Iwama added that it's unclear how the landscape of the pandemic will change in the next few months, so he couldn't provide details on the university's protocols.

He said all students will be expected to adhere to the government regulations in effect at the time.

Also, Iwama noted the university was considering distancing measures like halving its dorm capacity from two people per room to one.

Finally, he noted that after taking a break for his health in the fall, he returned to the job full time in November.

Iwama was hit by a vehicle in February 2019 and the lasting physical and psychological effects prompted him to take time off last year for two months, starting in September.

He said, however, the time off has done him well and he's ready to tackle new challenges.

"I feel strong and revived, and people noticed a big difference in my energy and outlook," said Iwama.

"I'm back and full of vim and vigour, waiting for better times to start."

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