Spring 2022 semester will be temporarily online

The SFSS releases its calls to action for the spring semester in regards to the Omicron variant

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Illustration, a student studying online with the Zoom blue aura around them
SFSS demands a transition to online classes for the entire Spring semester. Nazmus Sakib / The Peak

By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer

On December 23, 2021, president Joy Johnson announced SFU’s temporary return to online classes for the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester. From January 10 to 23, students will attend lectures and seminars remotely. Studio courses and labs will remain in-person. In preparation for a potential return to in-person classes starting January 24, SFU will consider additional resources. They have not specified what additional resources might be implemented.

According to Johnson’s email, “Safety remains our top priority, and includes the mental health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff.” She congratulated SFU for the Fall 2020’s safe transition to in-person learning.

In a statement to The Peak, vice-president academic and provost Catherine Dauvergne said, “Shifting learning and teaching to remote delivery for two weeks allows time to learn more about the situation and consider additional tools to support a full in-person return.” 

She encouraged students to reach out to campus resources if needed. “We are deeply concerned about the impact of the ongoing pandemic on students’ mental health and are encouraging students to take advantage of supports if they need help.”

The switch to online learning followed the BC government’s enhanced public safety measures, which prohibits “organized indoor social events and gatherings of any size.” However, as of December 22, 2021, there are no public health restrictions on classroom capacity.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s letter to post-secondary presidents said students are unlikely to spread and contract COVID-19 on campus. Similarly, SFU stated, “If a student, staff or faculty member is confirmed positive with COVID-19, that does not mean that they contracted COVID-19 while at SFU.” 

School districts for grades K–12 across the province are bracing for an increase in cases as students head back to in-person classes. “Over the course of this pandemic, we’ve seen that what happens in our community reflects what we see in our schools,” said Surrey School District spokesperson Ritinder Matthew to Vancouver Sun

Student groups and faculty have criticized SFU’s vaccination declaration process for the lack of enforcement and poor communication when it comes to announcing COVID-19 exposures on campus.  

On December 21, 2021, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) published their response to BC’s COVID-19 situation. They expressed concerns about the Omicron variant’s spread in BC. The SFSS’ calls to action for SFU include a complete transition to remote learning during the Spring 2022 semester, “publication declaration of outbreaks,” on-campus vaccination clinics, and accessible COVID-19 rapid tests.

Through a survey, the SFSS plans to gather data “about student concerns about back to campus.”

The Peak reached out to the SFSS but did not receive a response by the publication deadline.

Students with questions regarding SFU’s transition to remote learning can email covid19@sfu.ca.