Sunday, January 23, 2022

UBC delays reopening of most individual classes, citing Omicron concerns

The University of British Columbia has decided to expand its switch to mostly online learning as the Omicron version of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly in the province.

UBC late last year decided to delay in-person learning for classes in the spring term until January 24. On Wednesday, the university announced that it would push back the return date to February 7.

“As we enter 2022, we know that the Omicron version is of concern to many in our community,” the university said in an email to students and staff announcing the change.

“We understand that students, faculty and staff need timely information to plan, especially those who may be traveling internationally,” the statement continued. “Today, we are confirming that UBC has decided to continue delivering most programs online until February 7th.”

The university promised to continue to “assess the situation” and provide a further update on the spring term during the week of January 24.

Law school is returning soon

Many courses with clinical, experiential, demonstration or studio components are taking place in-person with COVID-19 safety protocols, ever since the current term began on January 4.

Many more – including UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law – are due to resume on January 24.

In an email to students and staff on Wednesday, Ngai Pindel, dean of the law school, said the law school will return to the classroom sooner than some other programs.

“Like all of you, I am deeply concerned about the risks posed by Omicron to the health and safety of the law school community and our families,” Pindel wrote. “I am also aware of the limitations of online instruction and the negative effects of continued isolation on our mental and emotional well-being.”

A UBC spokesperson confirmed to CTV News that law school and “some classes in Applied Science and Science” will return on January 24 instead of February 7.

“Those decisions are made where the pedagogy supports them and where class size is not a major issue,” the spokesperson said in an email.

UBC students can expect to hear directly from their programs about plans to return to the classroom for specific courses, the university said in its statement.

Students told to return to campuses in early February

The delayed return for most classes applies to both UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, and facilities remain open at both locations, the university said. This includes student services, student housing and all libraries.

“We recommend that all students plan to come to campus in early February to prepare for in-person teaching and learning to begin,” UBC said on Wednesday. “We are in the process of planning continuity for the potential impact of the Omron version on our employees and any associated demands on the university’s testing capacity.”

After UBC announced its switch to mostly online learning last month, several other BC universities followed suit.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no other BC universities had announced expanded distance learning plans.

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