Thursday, May 26, 2022

SFU students plan walkout on return to in-person learning

SFU students are returning to class on Monday for the first time this year.

Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron version of COVID-19, many post-secondary students delayed the start of the spring semester.

Many SFU students were expecting the delay to be even longer; Over 4,300 students signed an online petition to continue with distance learning, and now, the walkout is scheduled for Monday morning.

Darshan Dashrath, a second-year student, said he is concerned about learning in person because he needs to take two buses and the Skytrain to get to campus, and he is worried about getting infected with the coronavirus on public transport or in the classroom. Huh.

“It gets very worrying because I’m fine if I catch COVID, but I interact with my grandmother daily, and if something happens to her, I think I’ll be very distraught,” he said. Explained.

These are the concerns that the Simon Fraser Student Society has been hearing.

In a recent survey, it was found that two-thirds of students express some discomfort about returning and nearly 70 percent want to see some form of virtual learning.

“There’s just a general feeling that it’s too soon to go back, especially since they don’t really know how Omicron spreads in academic settings,” said outgoing SFSS president Gabe Lyosis.

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An unnamed group of walkout organizers are calling on the university to provide access to N95 masks and rapid tests, introduce hybrid learning, and extend the date of withdrawal from classes.

“We reject the irresponsible and reckless operation of SFU,” said one of the organisers, who did not wish to be identified.

“It appears that the SFU is following the provincial government, which seeks to ‘return to normalcy’ as soon as possible, regardless of the number of deaths and long-term effects of COVID-19.”

Liosis said the demands of the walkout organizers are the same as what the SFSS has been calling for since the start of the fall semester.

“Our call to action hasn’t changed. It’s just a matter of whether the university will listen to us, to get our opinion and convince us that the position they’re trying to put us in will be safe, Not the one that would put us at unnecessary risk,” he said.

He said the SFSS had recently voted to close the student union building to contain the spread.

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In an emailed statement, SFU’s Academic Vice President and Provost Dr. Catherine Douvergne wrote that the university understands the concern and concerns that students are experiencing from the pandemic.

“We know there is a wide range of opinions and preferences among our community, but it is especially important to note that most in-person classrooms and learning settings are not close-contact environments for the transmission of COVID-19. Supposedly on the layers of protection that are in place, i.e. vaccinations, masks and ventilation,” she wrote.

There have been no reports of COVID-19 transmission in the classroom setting since the fall semester, he said.

He said there are options available for students who feel they cannot return to class.

“We have strengthened support for students feeling anxious and we encourage all students to get the support they need,” she wrote.

Walkout is scheduled at 11 am at the Convocation Mall; Participants are able to participate in person or online.

UBC students will not return for in-person learning until February 7 at the earliest.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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