It was kind of big deal with the University of Guelph campus re-opened for in-person classes this past September, half the current compliment of the U of G’s class of undergrad students had never known a year of post-secondary school without an interruption caused by COVID-19. and now, COVID has struck again. After their holiday break, all students at the University of Guelph will have to kick-off their winter semester from home.
“Winter semester classes will begin as scheduled Jan. 10, 2022. However, we are asking instructors to hold classes virtually for the first two weeks, with limited exceptions such as clinical teaching,” read a statement on the U of G website from two vice-presidents, Gwen Chapman and Sharmilla Rasheed.
“This change aligns with advice from Ontario’s chief medical officer and with actions taken by nearby universities. A remote start to the semester will allow as many members of our U of G community as possible to get their third vaccine before physically returning to campus, which is important as vaccination continues to be the best way to reduce the severe health effects of COVID-19 and variants of concern.”
In the meantime, exams will proceed as usual till the end of the week, and campus will re-open as planned on January 8. While students will be allowed to return to their on-campus residences at that time, they are being encouraged by the U of G to wait until January 24 before coming back to campus. That’s the expected date for the return to in-person classes.
“I know this continued uncertainty causes anxiety and stress. But we also know that the public health measures we have in place are still an important way to reduce the risk of infection. This includes physical distancing where possible, avoiding crowds, masking and hand washing,” said U of G President and Vice-Chancellor Charlotte Yates in a separate statement.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about this variant, which leaves us all feeling worried, confused and deeply concerned for the health and well-being of our tri-campus communities and families,” Yates added. “The University will continue to communicate with you on an ongoing basis as we receive new information and advice from public health.”
The University of Guelph is not alone in planning for a delayed return to campus. Both the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo have announced a staggered return to in-person classes at the beginning of the winter semester. Conestoga College meanwhile has stated that they will be proceed as planned with in-person January classes. For now.
“We recognize that the situation is evolving rapidly. We will continue to follow guidance provided by federal, provincial and regional authorities to protect the safety and well-being of our college and our community,”Conestoga President John Tibbits said in a statement.