Relaunch Planning

Posted: May 21, 2020 8:33 AM   |  Updated: Aug 31, 2020 8:22 AM

A careful turn of the dial, not a quick flip of the switch

As the government phases in each stage of its relaunch strategy, NAIT will assess its ability to transition our operations and will do so as we are ready. Our approach to relaunch, developed over the past several weeks by our Executive, is called Turning the Dial - a careful turn, not a flip of a switch.

Safety is our first priority

As always, our priority is keeping the NAIT community healthy and safe.

Our commitment is to continue to provide the foundation for outstanding careers while meeting the polytechnic needs of the province, in accordance with provincial directives and guidelines. We will continue to respond as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, ensuring we remain relevant as we deliver on our promises to staff, students, industry and Alberta. 

Our "new normal for now"

The COVID-19 pandemic will not be over until there is a widely-distributed vaccine and the majority of the population is immunized. Public health orders and restrictions will remain in place for a long time. Restrictions will be lessened over time, with the distinct possibility that they may be reinstated if there is a second wave of COVID-19.

In the short to medium term, NAIT will adapt as required and operate under a “new normal for now” approach.  Overall, things will be different. In the longer term, once COVID-19 is no longer a threat, NAIT will shift from “new normal for now” to a truly “new normal”. 

Relaunch planning teams

To relaunch NAIT in a coordinated and carefully staged way as Alberta gradually reopens, NAIT’s Executive has established two teams – the Relaunch Advisory Committee and the Relaunch Coordination Team.

These teams will work together to safeguard the health and safety of the NAIT community, while enabling a paced re-opening of NAIT’s campuses in accordance with government public health directives and guidelines.

The priorities for the planning teams are

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of NAIT staff, students, tenants and on-campus stakeholders

  2. Enabling the relaunch of polytechnic education, Industry Solutions and support areas

  3. Clear and coordinated communications

  4. Coordinating whole-of-NAIT activities in support of vision, principles and objectives outlined by NAIT’s Executive

We will not return to business as usual; we are preparing for a better future. We will respond to the evolution of COVID-19 in the short- to medium-term, while at the same time taking a longer-term view of how to best enhance polytechnic education and Industry Solutions – and the support areas that serve both.

Relaunch Coordination Team

This team will lead whole-of-NAIT strategic and operational coordination to achieve the vision, principles and objectives established by NAIT’s Executive.


As outlined in its mandate, the team will

  • serve as an essential management mechanism for strategic coordination to ensure relaunch resources are efficiently and appropriately managed in a cost-effective manner

  • ensure all operational-level activities related to NAIT’s relaunch are coordinated, communicated, transparent, and in line with the vision, principles, and objectives set by NAIT’s Executive

  • coordinate and support the resolution of policy issues resulting from the relaunch

  • ensure that each business unit represented in the Relaunch Advisory Committee is providing appropriate situational awareness and resource status information to enable a coordinated whole-of-NAIT relaunch

  • enable Executive reporting to the Board of Governors on the relaunch direction, status, progress, and resource requirements

  • anticipate and identify future resource requirements

  • coordinate and support the resolution of policy issues resulting from the relaunch

  • facilitate inter-departmental decision coordination

  • identify and support the resolution of issues common to whole-of-NAIT re-launch activities

  • ensure supporting area activities and resources are synchronized and staged to enable the re-launch of polytechnic education and Industry Solutions

  • coordinate all requests and procurement applications for PPE, cleaning supplies, and other essential stores to include prioritization of distribution of procured supplies


Relaunch Coordination Team Director – Josh Bowen, Manager of NAIT’s Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management

Relaunch Coordiation Team Administrative Assistant – Leanne Lee, Mechanical Department Administration

Core members are

  • Alexandra Armstrong, Events Coordinator, Projects and Events, JR Shaw School of Business

  • Angela Briggs, Manager, Transition Services, Polytechnic Education and Student Success

  • Ann Fehlauer, Department Head, Electrical and Electronics Department, School of Applied Sciences and Technology

  • Dan Daerendinger, Training Specialist, Health and Safety Services

  • Greg Robertson, Associate Dean, Industry Engagement, School of Skilled Trades

  • Joanne McNab, Operations and Project Manager, Continuing Education

  • Kerri Oshust, Director, Simulation Centre, School of Health and Life Sciences

  • Kristen Vernon, Internal Communication Manager, Marketing and Communications

  • Peter Laffin, Director of Business Development, Centre for Sensors and System Integration, Industry Solutions

  • Sarah Stevenson Tweddle, Account Manager, Corporate and Industry Training, Industry Solutions

Enabling members are

  • Brandon Amirie, Staff Lawyer, General Counsel Services

  • Christine Bannerman, Supervisor, Health Services

  • Claire Mechan, Coordinator, Risk and Emergency Management

  • Colleen Caldwell, Manager, HR and Labour Relations, Human Resources

  • Gloria Booth, Manager, Talent Development & Safety, Retail and Ancillary Services

  • Jonathan Nituch, Director, Systems and Process Improvement, Student Progression and Registrar

  • Mario Poier, Manager, Network Services, Information and Technology Services

  • Mike Schoettler, Senior Manager, Maintenance and Operations, Facilities Operations

  • Owen Tock, Director, Procurement Services

  • Steven Bruns, Manager, Financial Advisory Services – Academic, Financial Services

  • Tom Harding, Enrolment Management Specialist, Office of the Registrar, Student Progression 

Former members are

  • Kevin Mayer, Manager, eat AT NAIT, Retail and Ancillary Services (from May to August)
  • Gail Wall, Manager, Scheduling (from May to August)

  • Jacqueline McLeod, Director, Campus Planning (from May to August)

Designate members are

  • Amy Gunter, Human Resources Consultant, Human Resources (1 week for Colleen Caldwell)

  • Bekki Hall, Senior Communications Specialist, Marketing and Communications (2 weeks for Kristen Vernon)

  • Gary Shade, Buyer, Procurement Services (2 weeks for Owen Tock)

  • Karen MacDonald, Manager, Information Technology Service Delivery (3 weeks for Mario Poier)

  • Madlen Christianson, Manager, Student Engagement (3 weeks for Angela Briggs)

Coordinated Response Team  

This team is a standing committee of the Relaunch Coordination Team and is tasked with ensuring a timely and well-informed response to COVID-19 cases at NAIT. It is reasonable to anticipate that there will be cases at NAIT as our campuses reopen and community transmission continues in our province. Learn how NAIT is prepared to respond in our Rapid Response Planning Framework.

Relaunch Advisory Committee

This committee will communicate and enable the coordination of the strategic direction and operational activities within and across NAIT schools, departments and portfolios.


As outlined in its mandate, the committee will

  • enable the Relaunch Coordination Team to facilitate whole-of-NAIT strategic and operational coordination to achieve the vision, principles, and objectives set out by NAIT’s Executive

  • ensure that each business unit represented—including their respective reporting elements—provides appropriate situational awareness and resource status information to the Relaunch Coordination Team in order to enable a coordinated whole-of-NAIT relaunch

  • identify, coordinate, and enable solutions and actions across all business units that are in the best interest of the whole-of-NAIT as identified in the vision, principles, and objectives set out by NAIT’s Executive

  • address issues relevant to relaunch only, within the scope established by NAIT’s Executive


Relaunch Advisory Committee Chair – alison lewis, Associate Vice-President, Polytechnic Education and Student Success

Co-chair – Josh Bowen, Relaunch Coordination Team Director  

Relaunch Advisory Committee Administrative Assistant – Leanne Lee, Mechanical Department Administration

Members are

  • Brian Pardell, Managing Director, Corporate Sales and Client Engagement, Industry Solutions

  • Brock Olive, Director of Continuing Education

  • Carole Laplante, Associate Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Services

  • Chris Chelmick, Executive Director, NAITSA

  • Daryl Allenby, Director, Information Technology Infrastructure and Operations

  • David McDine, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Academic Portfolio Leadership Committee

  • Denise MacIver, Dean, School of Health and Life Sciences

  • Dennis Sheppard, Dean, JR Shaw School of Business

  • Heather Murray, General Counsel

  • Jelena Bajic, Managing Director, Operations and Project Management, Industry Solutions

  • Jennifer Crothers, Associate Vice-President, Student Progression and Registrar

  • Jodi Edmunds, Director, Employee and Labour Relations, Human Resources

  • John O'Keeffe, Interim Associate Vice President, Facilities Management and Development

  • Kendra Parker, Interim Director of Marketing, Marketing and Communications

  • Mat Steppan, Director, Government Relations

  • Matthew Lindberg, Dean, School of Skilled Trades

  • Nicole Cebuliak, Director, Risk and Emergency Management

  • Olle Lagerquist, Associate Vice-President, Industry Solutions

  • Robyn Khunkun, Associate Vice-President, Advancement

  • Ross Wilson, Director, Internal Audit

  • Stewart Cook, Dean, School of Applied Sciences and Technology

Planning principles and assumptions

NAIT’s Executive has established the following principles and assumptions to guide the polytechnic’s relaunch efforts.

Planning principles

These principles will be used to guide decision-making and will be applied to short- to medium-term relaunch decisions, as well as decisions leaders will make over time as we contemplate our longer-term future.

  1. We will place the health and well-being of students, staff, and industry partners above all other considerations.

  2. NAIT will build back better as we capitalize on lessons learned to enhance operations, sustainability and service delivery.

  3. All decisions will be aligned with directives and guidelines given by provincial (and federal) health officials.

  4. Decisions regarding the appropriate blend of virtual and physical learning will be driven by programs, taking into account quality and fairness across all student demographics.

  5. NAIT will provide as much certainty as possible to students, staff and industry partners by making and communicating decisions as early as possible, whether these decisions are related to our response to COVID, or our broader path to the future.

  6. NAIT will cooperate with peer institutions to explore opportunities for collaboration and resource sharing to enhance efficiency and maintain quality.

  7. NAIT services will be maximized to the extent possible.

  8. NAIT’s culture has and will continue to change. Staff will be encouraged to say goodbye to certain past approaches that are no longer applicable and celebrate new approaches – and our next chapter.

  9. NAIT will balance costs with opportunities, with a view to financial sustainability. We will use our existing resources in different ways to achieve our objectives, strategically adding additional resources as critical needs are identified.

  10. Decisions will be guided by research and best practice, as well as our promises to students, staff, industry and Alberta.

  11. NAIT will take an approach of continuous improvement.

  12. Decisions will be informed by impacts to student progression and related considerations such as student funding and the requirements of external bodies such as regulating bodies, accrediting bodies, and Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

  13. Our approach to communication must create confidence in our staff, students and stakeholders; we will lean on trust as one of our core attributes.

  14. Leaders at all levels will be empowered to make decisions related to their business areas in line with these principles.

Planning assumptions

A guide to decision-making, these assumptions represent our current understanding of the context of COVID-19. Our assumptions will evolve as Alberta’s context evolves and as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Some form of physical distancing, as mandated by local health authorities, will remain in effect at of the start of the fall term.

  2. NAIT will prepare for a return to our facilities using a conservative, risk-informed, staged process based on what is best for NAIT, and in alignment with government direction.  We will work to limit the number of times we need to “turn the dial” up or down, with a goal of “relaunching once.”

  3. Decisions may need to be revisited if and when health related restrictions or guidelines change.

  4. NAIT will be heavily challenged to shift the mode of delivery mid-way through a semester, therefore we will look at ways to take advantage of any reduction in public health restrictions as they occur, keeping in mind the impacts on students, particularly those that may not be residing close to our campuses.

  5. The pandemic will have negative impacts on most enrolment (credit and non-credit) categories.

  6. Most revenue streams, including through ancillary operations, will be negatively affected.

  7. All categories of staff will be challenged by the changes and limitations forced by the pandemic and will need expanded supports.

  8. Economies will be significantly weakened, and unemployment will be high across the province and country.

  9. Students and industry partners will experience elevated financial and other challenges and will seek financial supports and other accommodations from NAIT and/or governments.

  10. The provincial government will not be in a position to provide emergency financial assistance directly to NAIT.

  11. Virtual and physical approaches to education have associated costs. NAIT’s approach to combining technology-enhanced with traditional approaches will not result in any ability to reduce tuition, fees or related costs.

  12. NAIT values and will pursue both digital and physical infrastructure supports and recognizes governments will provide financial incentive programs to support infrastructure renewal.

  13. NAIT must continue to drive toward the expenditure reductions mandated by the provincial government.

  14. NAIT will continue to implement, build on and accelerate planned transformation initiatives.

  15. We recognize not all staff will be able to return to work due to personal/family circumstances.

  16. NAIT supports and will enable flexible work arrangements and employee choice, including options for working from home.

  17. The strength of our partnerships with NASA, AUPE and NAITSA will be crucial in the path forward.