UVic planning for a full return to face-to-face learning in the fall

Campus News
David Strong Building with COVID-19 notices on the doors
COVID-19 notices at the entrance of the David Strong Building. The campus remains mostly deserted after UVic discontinued in-person classes in March. Photo by Michael John Lo.

After optimistic news from the provincial health officer (PHO), UVic has announced that they are planning for a full return to in-person classes in September. Although the full timetable won’t be available until May, President Hall expressed that the university is hopeful for the fall. 

The return to campus will be a welcome one for many, but details regarding the return are limited at this time. 

“There are still lots of unknowns, and many of you will have questions,” Hall said in a statement released this morning. “We’ll do our best to keep everyone updated over the coming weeks and months while building flexibility into our planning.” 

This announcement comes almost exactly one year after the university cancelled all in-person classes due to COVID-19. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the university estimated that 90 per cent of undergraduate classes were held online. 

“None of us knew how long we would be affected or the toll it would take on every aspect of our lives and work,” Hall said.

Some students and professors have expressed their difficulties with online classes. In a UVic survey, 67.2 per cent of undergraduate survey respondents indicated that they had difficulties using online learning materials. The survey also revealed that student mental health is a key concern. 

Students told the Martlet some professors are assigning a heavier than usual workload and that they are struggling to make connections with classmates. 

B.C. announced last week that they anticipate everyone in the province over the age of 18 will receive the first dose of the vaccine by July. Most UVic students fall into the phase four category of B.C.’s vaccine plan, meaning that they are last in line to receive the vaccine. 

Although there are few details available right now about what a return to campus might look like, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education Anne Kang said the government will be working closely with post-secondary institutions to ensure each institution’s guidelines are aligned with the PHO’s directions. 

“It has been a challenging year for post-secondary students, faculty and staff,” Kang said. “The guidelines will provide high-level guidance to post-secondary institutions for a safe resumption of on-campus learning. Institutions will then work with their local medical health officer and WorkSafeBC to develop more detailed safety plans for each institution.”

This article will be updated as more information becomes available. Follow the Martlet on Twitter or Instagram to stay updated on the latest developments.