Growing calls for UBC to cancel in-person exams amid rising Omicron cases

Dec 18 2021, 11:35 pm

The Omicron variant of concern drastically changed the landscape in BC in mid-December.

On the heels of sweeping changes to COVID-19 restrictions announced Friday, December 17, a student association at Vancouver’s largest university is asking for their school to do more.

The Alma Matter Society wrote a letter to UBC leadership dated Friday, December 17 regarding upcoming in-person examinations.

“We have had an overwhelming number of students voice grave concerns about their safety,” reads the letter. “The situation in examination halls does not instil confidence and feelings of safety within students.”

AMS writes that students have reported feeling “strong disappointment, extreme stress, and a total lack of confidence when it comes to the academic leadership of the university ensuring their safety while writing exams.”

Daily Hive has reached AMS for more information.

Kurt Heinrich, UBC’s senior director of media relations told Daily Hive that they appreciate the university community’s concerns about health and safety.

“We believe the Provincial Health Officer is in the best position to provide guidance on public health decisions for our university community,” said Heinrich in a statement.

“In recognition of the understandable anxiety of many of our community members, and out of an abundance of caution, we have advised our Deans that they may work with their staff and professors to transition exams online where appropriate,” he said.

“The decision on what exams can be transitioned depends on the specific courses and will be made by individual professors in collaboration with their Deans and academic leadership.”

UBC says they will help make sure that the courses that are unable to transition to online will continue to follow PHO guidelines and procedures and they are going to monitor the evolving situation working closely with health authorities.

On Tuesday, December 14, UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono provided an update on in-person exams.

He said that while other Canadian universities have shifted final exams from in-person to online, UBC would not.

“Our situation is different from the universities that have needed to shift their exams to online,” wrote Ono.

“We have been assured by public health experts at Vancouver Coastal Health and Interior Health that it is safe for UBC to hold in-person exams on both campuses, given the control measures that are in place.”

While BC experiences growing COVID-19 case numbers, including over 300 Omicron cases reported on December 17, the University says that its not seeing a spike in cases, as per its December 14 update.

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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