UVic to transition away from face-to-face instruction for remainder of the term

Campus National News

Effective Monday, instructors will have to decide how to teach their classes and administer exams for the rest of the semester

Graphic by Darian Lee

Effective Monday, March 16, UVic has announced it will cancel face-to-face classes in response to COVID-19 — now considered a global pandemic. The university itself will remain open, including recreation facilities and the library, as well as UVic residence and food services.

“We recognize that it would be inappropriate to require a single approach to completing courses and final exams this term,” UVic President Jamie Cassels said in a statement. “As a result, we are asking faculty and instructors of undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies courses to use their best judgement regarding the delivery and completion of courses.” 

Professors can use their discretion to decide what option they’d like to take to finish classes for the semester. Cassels offered suggestions, such as posting video slides online. In-person final exams will not take place and professors can opt to change their syllabi accordingly, potentially by adding another method of assessment or changing the weight of existing assignments.

Faculty must communicate their specific plan for the rest of the term to students by next Thursday, Mar 19, although classes will be cancelled starting Monday. Students can expect to receive an update from their professors shortly.

“In the weeks ahead, our focus will remain on the health and well-being of our community and our students’ academic success,” Cassels said. 

Although there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at UVic, there is one case on Vancouver Island linked to an elderly man that recently returned from a trip to Egypt. There has been an increase in cases across the country and in British Columbia, however, which prompted the University’s latest response.

UVic follows nearly every major post-secondary institution in Canada, including UBC and SFU, and more than 85 Universities in the United States in deciding to close on-campus classes as a result of COVID-19. 

A student petition started on Thursday and signed by over 7 400 students demanded for the university to close. The Martlet reported earlier this week that large classes of over 250 students were cancelled. That has been extended to all courses. 

Travel remains restricted, and all university-sponsored international travel from now until May is cancelled. This includes co-ops, exchanges, and internships abroad. Anyone that chooses to go on a trip that is not university-sponsored is expected to follow Provincial health advice and self-quarantine for fourteen days following their arrival back in Canada. 
Health officials are encouraging people to wash their hands and consider social distancing, and for anyone exhibiting symptoms to stay home. For more information, please visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.