As the Spring 2020 semester comes to a close, University of Lethbridge staff members are staying in touch with each and every student.

This week, the University launched the uLethbridge Cares Student Liaison initiative. All current students will receive a ‘message from home’ that provides them with a personal contact at the University. A group of approximately 40 staff members will be checking in with all current students to see how they’re doing, finding out what support they may need, providing answers to their questions and maintaining their connection with the U of L over the summer.

“We want students to know how much we miss them and that we are here for them,” says Kathleen Massey, associate vice-president (students). “We have been doing everything we can to give students options, to give them support, to reach out and make sure that they are not alone, and help support them as they complete this school year and move on to their next goals, including returning to uLethbridge this fall.”

Being there to support students every step of the way is her team’s top priority, Massey says. Academic advising in the Faculties and Schools as well as other students support services offered by Student Affairs and other teams will continue throughout the summer. The Health Centre remains open, and students can make appointments, which are typically done by phone, with a physician. U of L counsellors will continue to offer their support to students through online appointments that can be held by phone or through a secure version of Zoom.

“In addition, our counsellors launched three new group sessions — a pandemic support group, a book club, and a mindfulness group. These are available online and provide a group context so students have the chance to build some community, share their experience with other students and receive support from our qualified and caring counsellors,” says Massey.

From a financial perspective, the Student Emergency Bursary will be distributing funds to students in financial distress beginning in May. The bursary is made possible thanks to the generous support of faculty and staff, alumni and the community at large. Students can contact the Scholarships and Student Finance office to apply.

Reflecting on the past two months, Massey says she’s in awe of how students persevered through an unprecedented time in uLethbridge’s history.

“We know it hasn't always been easy. The COVID-19 situation meant that so much had to change in a matter of days. As challenging as it has been, this is what liberal education prepares our students for —to pivot and adapt to new ways of doing things,” she says.

“We have been absolutely impressed with how well students have made the adjustment. So many stepped up in very challenging times to work with their instructors, to support each other and to reach out to our services to make this transition in the best way possible.”

uLethbridge Cares brings the community together through stories of resilience and opportunities for connection.