Summerland Baptist Church will serve as one of the locations for the University of Summerland. Three Summerland churches will open their doors to provide a study space for university students this fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland churches open doors to provide study spaces

Spaces will be available four days a week for up to 30 university students

Three Summerland churches will offer spaces for students as the University of Summerland assists post-secondary students this fall.

“We offer no degrees and we have no professors,” said Raja Gupta, a high school teacher who has been working to coordinate the program.

Gupta approached churches in town, asking for space where university students could study if they are not able to return to the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the students will need tables, chairs, a washroom and wireless Internet.

The Summerland Baptist Church, Summerland Alliance Church and Julia Street Community Church responded. Two other churches were interested, but were unable to meet the needs of the program.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: B.C. universities opt out of in-person spring graduation ceremonies

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Luke Johnson, of Summerland Baptist Church, said the program is scheduled to begin on Sept. 8 and will continue until the end of the year.

If the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing after that point, the churches involved will then revisit the program.

Calum Bird, a university student involved with the program, said the study space is important since most universities in Canada are offering their courses virtually this year as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s a way to have some social interaction while studying,” he said.

“It’s a collaborative study space for students.”

The Latin slogan on the website reads “studere nobiscum,” or “study with us,” emphasizing the goal of the shared space.

At present, 13 university students have registered for the program. Additional spaces are still available.

While details are still being worked out, Gupta said there are spaces available four days a week, for up to 30 students, with study spaces being rotated among the churches.

He added the participants must register in advance for the study space. To register, visit the program’s website at universityofsummerland.ca.

There are no registration fees. Those who participate in the program must sign in each time they attend, following the province’s contact tracing protocols. They must also bring all required materials, any food and drink and their own masks.

For more information about the program email universityofsummerland@gmail.com.

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