The University of Regina is temporarily moving to remote learning to begin its winter semester in January.
The decision was announced on Tuesday, stating the switch is “due to the accelerating spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant in Saskatchewan and Canada.”
Classes were initially set to start on Jan. 5, but the U of R has pushed the start date for winter 2022 to Jan. 10, beginning with remote learning over the next couple weeks from there.
Remote instruction will continue until Jan. 22 with a target date for in-person teaching scheduled for Jan. 24.
“Looking at the medical evidence, looking at what could happen with ICUs, looking at the fact that we’re bringing back more than 15,000 students back to campus plus thousands of staff — we thought this was best to protect everyone,” said Jeff Keshen, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina.
“We really wanted to get to term in-person. It’s a huge disappointment to not start the semester that way.”
Keshen said the decision mirrors what other post-secondary institutions have decided to do across the country, including schools in Alberta and Manitoba.
“I hope very much it’s a temporary pause and one that was due diligence.”
Keshen mentioned that the announcement at this time provides staff and students with the maximum amount of time possible to make adjustments during the holiday break.
However, some feel it isn’t enough time.
“There are mixed reactions to the temporary move to online and the later start date, but I can say that one thing almost every student is struggling with is the uncertainty,” shared Hannah Tait, president of the University of Regina Students Union (URSU).
Tait said the change has created a number of challenges for students who were expecting to enter the upcoming term with in-person classes.
She added there are questions regarding URSU events as part of “Welcome Week” which were supposed to happen at the start of the semester.
Those plans are in the air, but Tait said they are in conversations with officials to determine the next steps.
Tait also discussed how students who were anticipating in-person learning are wondering what they should do next regarding living arrangements and schedules.
“They’ve paid thousands of dollars to return to campus for the winter,” Tait said. “Students from all over Saskatchewan and all over the world have moved back to Regina for in-person classes, but now they are uncertain if that move was worth it.”
The U of R stated that the institution’s COVID-19 situation will be re-evaluated in mid-January.
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