UBC student who attended in-person exam tests positive for COVID-19
A UBC student who attended an in-person exam on campus last week has tested positive for COVID-19.
The other UBC students who participated in the exam received an email alert from the professor with a COVID-19 exposure notice.
UBC Covid Tracker, an unofficial source for university COVID-19 exposures not endorsed by the institution, posted a copy of the email on Twitter. The tracker suggests that there are 164 registered students in the class.
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The email to the class asks students to fill out a form that was sent by Fraser Health, stating, “We have not received guidance from Public Health yet.”
Exposure Notice: ECON 226 004 Final Exam; HEBB 100 (8:30AM-10:30AM). Confirmed by email from professor to students.
There are ~164 students registered in that class. pic.twitter.com/C8VbSY22SN
— UBC Covid Tracker (@ubccovidtracker) December 20, 2021
In a conversation with Daily Hive last week, UBC said that it works in consultation with and sometimes under the direction of BC health authorities.
On December 19, UBC released a statement regarding the decision not to move in-person examinations online.
After meeting with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, UBC states that Henry advised “COVID-19 transmission is very uncommon in structured educational settings because of high vaccination rates and the safety measures in place, and that in-person exams can proceed.”
Kurt Heinrich, UBC’s senior director of media relations, responded to the UBC Covid Tracker post.
“The university administration does not confirm cases and is not in a position to do so, or confirm the accuracy of the information on ubccovidtracker.com, which is not a UBC website. That is the role of the health authorities. UBC works with the health authorities to assist with contract tracing when requested.”
He also encouraged all members of the UBC community to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Heinrich told Daily Hive that if students don’t feel comfortable taking an in-person exam, they can request a standing deferred, or SD. While usually reserved for emergency situations, an SD would be permitted under the current circumstances. This would allow a student to delay his or her exam.
“Throughout the pandemic, UBC has worked closely with the Provincial Health Officer and Regional Health Authorities to ensure we are following their guidance in our campus operations and that we are keeping our community safe. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust safety measures as necessary in conjunction with the Public Health Officer and Regional Health Authorities,” added Heinrich.
A growing number of people and groups have called on UBC to move exams online, including the UBC Alma Mater Society who started a petition on the matter.
Others, like faculty staff, have taken to social media to express their views on the situation.
Dr. Bonnie Henry is putting UBC students at risk by insisting that in-person exams are safe, based on data about previous variants and not the insanely infectious Omicron.#UBC #covid19bc #bcpoli
— Michael Byers (@michael_byers) December 19, 2021
Other universities, notably the University of Victoria, have made the decision to move exams online. SFU also cancelled some in-person exams, but it suggested the cancellations were due to winter weather concerns.