The University of British Columbia has decided to expand the move to primarily online learning as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across the province.
At the end of last year, UBC decided to postpone the return to personal learning for classes in the spring term until January 24. On Wednesday, the university announced it would postpone that return date to February 7.
“As we enter 2022, we know that the Omicron variant is a concern for 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 for planning, especially those who may be traveling internationally,” the statement continues. “Today we confirm that UBC has made the decision to continue offering most programs online until February 7.”
The university promised to continue to “assess the situation” and provide another update on the spring period the week of January 24.
LAW SCHOOL RETURN FASTER
A number of courses with clinical, experiential, performance or studio components have been conducted in person with COVID-19 safety protocols since the current term began January 4.
Several more, including those from UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law, will resume on Jan. 24.
In an email to students and staff on Wednesday, law school dean Ngai Pindell said law school would return to the classroom earlier than some other programs.
“Like all of you, I am deeply concerned about the risks Omicron poses to the health and safety of the law school and to our families,” Pindell 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 sciences and sciences” would return on Jan. 24 instead of Feb. 7.
“Those decisions are made where pedagogy supports them and where class size isn’t such a big deal,” the spokesperson said in an email.
UBC students can expect direct from their programs about return-to-classroom plans for specific courses, the university said in its statement.
STUDENTS ASKED TO RETURN TO CAMPUS EARLY FEBRUARY
The delayed return for most classes will apply to both UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, and facilities at both locations will remain open, the university said. That includes student facilities, student housing and all libraries.
“We recommend that all students be on campus in early February so that they can be ready for the start of personal teaching and learning,” UBC said Wednesday. “We are also in the process of continuity planning for the potential impact of the Omicron variant on our employees, and any associated requirements for the university’s testing capacity.”
After UBC announced its move to primarily online learning last month, several other BC universities followed suit.
As of early Wednesday morning, no other BC university had announced comprehensive distance learning plans.