2022 Spring Semester to begin online

Health experts are continuing to learn more about the COVID-19 Omicron variant, and while there are still more unknowns than knowns, the last few days have demonstrated how quickly it can spread within Canadian communities.

Today, the University of Lethbridge, alongside the University of Calgary and University of Alberta, have decided the best approach to protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, is to start our respective January semesters primarily online and with continued safety measures on campus as needed. Therefore, all classes on both University of Lethbridge campuses will be online until January 21, 2022.

The January 5, 2022, start date for the semester will not change, though professors will be afforded some flexibility should they need it during the first week (January 5-7) as they work through this transition. Professors will contact students directly if their course will be impacted.

Starting the semester online for a short period will allow our communities some certainty for the immediate future and also provide the time we need to assess the new variant’s impact on our communities, particularly after the holiday season from gatherings and travel. The move also supports our health system and reduces the number of people on our campuses to allow research, learning activities, and work required for operational continuity that cannot shift online to continue.

This decision is consistent with decisions made by other Canadian universities and has been made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other post-secondary institutions in Alberta — who are now contemplating or implementing similar approaches. This decision is consistent with what has been our top priority since the pandemic began — the health and safety of our campus community. Senior administration will be assessing the situation very closely over the next few weeks to make informed decisions about maintaining the health and safety of our community.

The U of L will return to an in-person format as soon as it safe to do so. Students have been clear that face-to-face experiences inside and outside the classroom are important to their learning experiences and their mental health, so while courses will move online to start the term, faculty members and students should plan for a return to an in-person format once the Omicron threat has diminished.

Currently, the University is NOT closing its Lethbridge campus and student residences will remain open. Food services, sport facilities, the gym and library will remain open as long as doing so is in compliance with provincial health directives.

Some employees will have to continue to work on campus to ensure operational continuity, as well as the services our community depends on, but between January 4-21, 2022, staff who are able to work from home should do so. In the coming days, managers will reach out to their employees to provide direction to those required to be on campus to perform their roles.

Again, our goal is to reduce the spread of Omicron by providing our community with additional physical space. As such, faculty and staff should not plan any events on campus during this time. We also request that everyone do their part to limit the spread of the virus by considering reducing activities, wearing masks, physical distancing, and getting the vaccine booster as soon as you are eligible to do so.

The U of L will now begin implementing the necessary steps to facilitate online learning for the beginning of the Spring (January) semester. Details will be shared directly with our community before classes begin on January 5, 2022.

I know this news is disappointing for our community. For all of us, the impacts of the pandemic have been challenging in many ways. If you see a friend or colleague struggling, please support them as you are able. If you are struggling, please reach out for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed for any reason, support is available. Students can access dedicated counselling supports, and our Employee and Family Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff.

Mike Mahon, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor


Contact:

President's Office | president@uleth.ca