Three other major public universities in British Columbia are following the lead of the University of British Columbia and begin the winter semester with several weeks of online classes in January.
The decision comes amid an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province, driven by the highly contagious variant of Omicron.
Simon Fraser University, the Victoria University and the Northern BC University all announced Thursday that they would begin the semester as scheduled, but with short-term changes to online instruction.
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Provincial health official Dr. Bonnie Henry had previously recommended that winter semester classes be held primarily in person, citing a low risk of transmission in educational settings.
SFU announced a two-week switch to remote learning for conferences and seminars, from January 10 to January 24. Experimental classes, study courses and labs will continue in person with safety guidelines, he said.
“SFU has had a very safe and successful return to campus. Safety continues to be our top priority and includes the mental health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, ”said University President Joy Johnson in a notice to students.
“This brief change to part of our learning and teaching will provide time to learn more about the situation and consider additional tools to support a full return in person.”
UVic said it would also conduct most of the instruction online between January 10 and 24, with in-person assistance for essential clinical, experimental, performance, study or laboratory components.
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Instructors will communicate with students who will need to attend in person, the university said.
“For the students, faculty and staff who will continue learning, research and in-person services in early January, please be assured that our campus facilities are safe,” UVic said in a notice to students.
“This approach provides certainty for students and instructors for the beginning of the trimester, enables our ongoing coordination and collaboration with Island Health, and provides flexibility for our campus community, allowing for safe travel and transition of students back to school. campus”.
UNBC said classes would begin as scheduled on January 5, but the first class of all courses would take place online, at which point instructors will provide more information to students on how instruction will unfold.
“After the first class, many courses will remain in person, but some will temporarily switch to alternate modes of delivery until January 28,” said University Chancellor and Acting Chancellor Geoff Payne in a letter to students.
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“We continue to assess the situation and will provide further updates early in the New Year.”
On Wednesday, UBC announced its own plan to change instruction online until at least January 24, but was monitoring the situation with the Omicron variant in the meantime.
All four universities said their campuses and facilities would remain open during the suspension of in-person instruction.
On Thursday, BC reported more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases, nearly triple the number reported a week earlier.
On Friday, provincial health official Dr. Bonnie Henry acknowledged that the province had to conduct a screening test, with PCR testing limited to seniors and people in high-risk categories.
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