Some students at BCIT have started an online petition urging the institution to delay the return to in-person classes as cases of Omicron increase.
“We, the Business Students of BCIT, feel extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable attending school in person on Monday, January 10th, 2022 at the BCIT Burnaby and Downtown Campuses. Due to the widespread Omicron variant, we feel as though our safety and well-being are in jeopardy should classes return to campus. We are confused and disheartened that BCIT has not followed similar precautions that other post-secondary schools in the province like UBC, SFU, and UVic have. Each of these institutions have committed to the health, safety, and security of their students and staff by delaying in-person classes by three weeks into January.”
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The petition goes on to say that BCIT’s COVID-19 Safety Plan is outdated and does not take into account “how contagious and easily transmittable the Omicron variant is.”
“We are increasingly concerned that BCIT cannot guarantee our safety with numbers so shockingly high. While teachers are protected by plexiglass and a 6-foot distance, students are crammed into small classrooms with no free seats,” reads the petition.
They are hoping BCIT considers delaying the return to in-person classes until at least the third week of January, saying, “As a group, we unequivocally agree that our mental and physical health would suffer more in-person with the risks of COVID-19 compared to learning at home, virtually. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves, friends, roommates, and family members from the increasing danger of returning to campus on Monday.”
In an update on December 30, BCIT announced the plan for a return to in-person learning.
“In consideration of the latest COVID-19 update from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and in consultation with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, BCIT has decided to delay a full return to on campus and in-person learning and teaching until January 10, 2022. BCIT campuses will remain open during this time. Faculty and staff will work as scheduled on January 4 and students should be available and ready to complete course work during that time.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had already gotten more than 1,500 signatures.