The University of Alberta has extended online course delivery, along with enhanced security measures, until February 28.
In one declaration issued by Bill Flanagan, U of A president and vice chancellor, on Jan. 14, the university delayed the return to in-person classes and activities until Feb. 28. Flanagan also noted that the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge are making the same decision on their campuses. The deadline for students to remove courses has been extended to January 21. However, the deadline to add a course remains January 18. Enhanced security measures previously announced will also continue and residence halls will remain open to residents.
Flanagan described the move as necessary to keep students, faculty and community members safe.
“The decisions we are making now are not easy, but they are necessary,” he said. “At this point, continuing with enhanced security measures remains the best course of action. Fewer people on our campuses means more physical space for those who need to carry out their work and learning activities in person. It also means fewer close points of contact, ensuring that we keep the community as safe as possible while maintaining key in-person courses as well as critical operations and services.
Some components of the in-person course, such as labs or mid-term exams, can still be done in person with appropriate security measures. According to the released statement, instructors will receive more information on this in the coming week.
The university expressed a “high degree of confidence” that in-person classes and activities will resume after reading week.
“Our announcement today is a commitment to return to campus, at the right time,” Flanagan’s statement read. “Given what we currently know about Omicron’s anticipated peak, we are confident that we can safely return to campuses and our full in-person course schedule for Winter 2022 on February 28.”
The statement expressed thanks to the U of A community for “responding[ing] with care and compassion” towards other members of the University community and for “those in communities far beyond the borders of our campuses.
Students’ union ‘irritated’ by University of Alberta’s decision not to extend deadline for adding courses
In response to the statement released by the post-secondary institution, the U of A Students’ Union (UASU) expressed support to expand online course delivery. However, they disagreed with the U of A’s decision to keep the deadline for adding classes to January 18. Since December, UASU has recommended to extend the time limits for adding and deleting a course.
“We were irritated by [the U of A not extending the deadline to add courses]said Rowan Ley, President of UASU. “…We understand why the university couldn’t extend the add deadline until the delete deadline, but I don’t think there’s a reason why the deadline isn’t could not have been extended by at least two days, as was the case in previous semesters.. I do not agree with this decision.
However, Ley expressed support for the U of A’s decision to extend the deadline for class dropouts.
“[The UASU is] glad to see that students have been heard on the dropout deadline issue,” he said. “To not extend the filing deadline, in the circumstances, would be ridiculous and completely unfair. So we’re glad that was done.
UPDATE: As of 12:58 p.m. on January 14, 2022, this article has been updated. The original Gateway article was written after the university announced its decision to expand online course delivery. In a later update, UASU’s response was included in the article.