WINDSOR, ONT. -- St. Clair College officials say they hope students will be able to complete lab work and clinical training as the province reveals plans to reopen post-secondary education.

Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano announced Wednesday that in-person education and training at colleges will resume in July on a limited basis, ensuring more students will complete their studies.

"We are, of course, elated by the minister's announcement," said St. Clair College President Patti France in a news release. "We're especially happy for our 2019-20 students in the various programs that were unable to fully complete their mandatory clinical training and other hands-on requirements due to the pandemic's interference with the winter semester.”

France said this means that they should be able to complete their programs, graduate, and enter the job marketplace within a matter of a few months.

France said St. Clair will first focus on opening labs for students who require time to finish their Winter Semester, and the college will then turn its attention to students in the Spring Semester.

These are students in programs that require lab work and other in-person instruction to fulfil the programs’ requirements. Individual communications will be sent to students in the affected programs by their program coordinators with further instructions.

Another group of students – many of them in Health Sciences – will still require placements in the community.

“We will now have to figure out how we can get those placements back on track,” said Waseem Habash, vice president of academic.

Ontario’s colleges cancelled in-person classes in March, and shifted to online delivery to protect students, faculty, employees and others from COVID-19.

St. Clair officials say due to the dedication and tremendous efforts of faculty and staff, the transition to remote learning was very successful.

Colleges have continued to collaborate with Minister Romano and public health officials on the safe return of in-person classes. St. Clair College has developed a plan that includes guidelines for physical distancing, protocols for cleaning, and rules for using personal protective equipment (PPE).

France said the limited safe return to campus in July and August will allow St. Clair to plan for a blended delivery and learning model in the Fall.

"I remain hopeful that the fall semester will include some component of in-person, on-campus instruction for many of our postsecondary programs,” said France. “Most lectures may continue to be delivered in on-line fashion during the autumn, but our preparations during the impending pilot project phase should allow many of our hands-on labs, clinics and workshops to be delivered in an in-person manner."