The University of British Columbia has decided to expand its shift to primarily online learning as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly in the province.
UBC decided late last year to postpone the return to in-person learning for spring term classes until January 24. On Wednesday, the university announced that it would be pushing that return date back to February 7.
“As we move into 2022, we know that the Omicron variant is of concern to many in our community,” the university said in an email to students and employees announcing the change.
“We understand that students, faculty and staff need timely information for planning, especially those who may be traveling overseas,” the statement continued. “Today, we confirm that UBC has made the decision to continue broadcasting the majority of programming online until February 7th.”
The university has promised to continue to “assess the situation” and provide another update on the spring term during the week of January 24.
LAW SCHOOL RETURNS MORE TT
A number of courses with clinical, experiential, performance, or studio components have taken place in person with COVID-19 safety protocols in place since the start of the current term on January 4.
Several others, including those at UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law, are scheduled to resume on January 24.
In an email to students and staff on Wednesday, law school dean Ngai Pindell said the law school would return to class 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 community and our families,” Pindell wrote. “I am also aware of the limits of online education and the negative impacts of continued isolation on our mental and emotional well-being.”
A UBC spokesperson confirmed to CTV News that law school and “some applied science and science classes” will resume on January 24 rather than February 7.
“These decisions are made where pedagogy supports them and class size is not as much of an issue,” the spokesperson said in an email.
UBC students can expect to hear back-to-class plans for specific courses directly from their programs, the university said in its statement.
STUDENTS ASKED TO RETURN TO CAMPUSES BY EARLY FEBRUARY
The delayed return of most classes applies to UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, and facilities at both locations remain open, the university said. This includes student services, student accommodation, and all libraries.
“We recommend that all students plan to be on campus in early February, so they can be ready for the start of in-person teaching and learning,” UBC said Wednesday. “We are also in the process of continuing to plan for the potential impact of the Omicron variant on our employees and any associated demands on the university’s testing capacity.”
After UBC announced its switch to predominantly online learning last month, several other universities in British Columbia followed suit.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, no other university in British Columbia had announced extended distance learning plans.