In light of the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, we have decided to cancel the remainder of in-person exams for the fall semester. Online exams will continue as previously planned. Faculties will work with instructors on alternative plans for final grading, and those instructors will be in touch with affected students shortly.
Graduate exams (thesis defence, candidacy) will be switched to online modality for the next few days and first week of January.
In addition, block week (Jan. 3-7) activities not required to be in person will also be moved online. We encourage all those who can work remotely to continue to do so through to Jan. 9.
These actions reduce in-person activity and allow us time to gather information about the Omicron variant – its transmissibility, its severity, its effects on various populations, and the effectiveness of vaccines – that will allow better decision-making about the start of the winter semester.
As Provost Balser said on Thursday, what we don’t know about the Omicron variant exceeds what we do know. In that environment it makes sense for us to act cautiously.
The regular semester with in-person instruction is scheduled to begin on Jan. 10. It is possible that, as the Omicron situation becomes clearer, we will decide to delay the start of in-person instruction. While we hope otherwise, students, faculty and staff should be prepared for the possibility of online delivery over the month of January. We aim to decide on this matter by Jan. 4.
Every day brings additional information on Omicron’s effects. These moves allow us time to gather vital data on whether it is appropriate to proceed with our original plans for the start of winter semester.
As always, we commit to sharing information as it becomes available and sharing decisions with you as they are made.
Wishing you a safe holiday,
President and Vice-Chancellor