MONTREAL -- Come this fall, CEGEP students will be back in the classroom with full class sizes, it was announced Wednesday.

Some students, like Vanier College’s Raymond Jr. Villapando, are looking forward to the change.

“I’m happy we’re back in classes because for me and many friends, it helps our mental health,” explains Villapando.

CEGEP representatives say maintaining in-person learning is a priority, and that they will do everything they can to keep it going.

“The fact that there will be activities at the college and that students will be able to interact with people I think is what is really really important,” says director of Dawson College, Diane Gauvin.

CEGEP students will also be required to wear masks in classrooms and shared spaces, as outlined by the Quebec government. Although the province originally required no masks to be worn in CEGEPs and universities, regulations changed as of Tuesday.

In addition to this, CEGEP students studying in the health sector will require the COVID-19 vaccine in order to complete their program.

“For many hospitals it was a requirement already, but now it will be clear that any student who has a clinical component will need to be vaccinated,” says Gauvin.

According to preliminary survey data, the vast majority of Dawson College are already vaccinated. For those who aren’t, there will be vaccination clinics at CEGEPs across Montreal throughout August and September.

Villapando, who is on Vanier’s student council, says students will have a lot of support at his school.

“We have a mental health app called 'Empower Me,' we have student insurance [...], and we’re also here for any type of questions.”

And some teachers are feeling optimistic too — Dawson teacher Jonathon Sumner says he’s looking forward to connecting with his students in person.

“It’s hard to get to know 100 students over Zoom or Teams, it’s a lot easier in person. It’s also a lot easier to understand if students are having trouble or struggling.”

But the big worry for Sumner is that a fourth wave will shut down classes and move everything online again.

If that’s the case, CEGEPs say they’ll be ready to make the shift as seamlessly as possible — but they’re hoping it doesn’t come to that.