A Christian university is hoping to help its students grow despite changing classroom circumstances.

While they are seeing an increase in returning students, Canadian Mennonite University says that there is a drop in new student enrollment.

"We are up six per cent in returning students, so the decrease that has happened comes entirely from incoming students," CMU's President Cheryl Pauls says.

New student enrollment is down 20 per cent. Pauls says she believes this is in part due to a large drop in international student enrollment.

"Normally we have about 25-30 new international students; this year it is four."

Travelling restrictions, as well as CMU's in-person class model, are contributors to the low enrollment numbers. 

CMU's 2020-2021 school year will be conducted differently. Dorms and apartments are full, as CMU is only allowing one student per dorm room this year. Classrooms also look different, as the school is adding outdoor spaces as well as online tools to its repertoire.

"Students are just thrilled to be here," Pauls says. "It is also a matter of how is it going to feel being this far apart all the time, how is it going to feel wearing masks all the time?"

Over the next little while, CMU students will be learning how to share space on campus following the new adaptions.

She says that students will need to work together to keep each other safe. Pauls says that they will be looking at how the pandemic is affecting and sharpening students. She says the heightened awareness is good for education. 

Pauls says the school is hoping to support its community by having prayer walks, photography, and other activities to promote overall wellbeing for its students.