Extension of primarily online course delivery through February 28, 2022

Dear campus community,

Thank you for complying with all necessary health and safety measures and accommodating the changes we are all navigating due to the global pandemic.

When we announced we would be starting our spring semester primarily online, it was in response to how quickly the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was beginning to spread throughout Canada and globally and to assess how this variant would impact our campus communities. We are now seeing the exponential growth of COVID-19 positive cases locally, provincially, and nationally, and public health experts don’t envision a peak in COVID-19 cases in Alberta until later in January to early to mid-February.

With the health and safety of our community foremost in mind, the University of Lethbridge is extending its current primarily online course delivery model through to the end of the February Spring Term Break, with in-person classes scheduled to resume Monday, February 28, 2022. Alberta’s other comprehensive-research universities, the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, are also delaying their return to in-person learning until February 28 and informing their communities as well this morning.

How will this affect our current courses?

Courses and course components already being delivered in-person will continue that way until February 28. As well, in courses currently being delivered online there will be some additional flexibility for faculty to deliver face-to-face components where it is necessary to meet learning objectives. Faculty members can seek approval to move to in-person delivery for aspects of their courses from their respective deans. In the case that a class or class component is moved to an in-person format, students will be informed directly and in a timely manner from their instructor.  This additional in-person flexibility includes the delivery of exams, and for that reason, we are reopening the Testing Centre on Monday, January 24, 2022.

Open Campus

Throughout this period, our Lethbridge campus and student residences will remain open and will follow all provincial health directives. Food services, sport facilities, the gym and library (including the 24-hour study space) will also remain open, again as long as doing so complies with provincial health directives. Those who attend our campus must continue to adhere with our mandatory vaccine and masking requirements.

Why are we making this decision now?

We are making this decision now to give our students, faculty, and staff the certainty needed to move forward through this semester. Moreover, fewer people on campus provides additional space for those faculty, staff, and students who must complete their work and learning activities in person.

The additional four weeks of primarily online delivery will push us past what we anticipate will be the peak of this latest COVID-19 Omicron wave, as well as ensure students, faculty and staff are able to maintain access to teaching and learning activities regardless of requirements to quarantine or isolate. It is also imperative we continue to do our part to limit the spread of Omicron and minimize the strain on our health care system.

Students have been clear since the pandemic began that face-to-face experiences inside and outside of the classroom are important for their learning outcomes and mental health. An extension of primarily online learning now will best facilitate a full return to campus later in the semester. Faculty, staff, and students who are currently not on campus should be prepared to transition back to in-person and on-campus work and activities after Spring Term Break, Monday, February 28, 2022.

What about our Calgary Campus?

Our Calgary campus at Bow Valley College will reopen on February 14, 2022, consistent with Bow Valley College’s announcement earlier this week. Faculty members at the Calgary campus can also apply for additional flexibility for in-person course delivery from their dean should they need to for the week starting February 14, 2022.

Working From Home

Consistent with our message in late December, we continue to encourage those who are able to work from home to do so, subject to the operational demands of being an open campus.   Those employees who are working on campus or attending campus periodically may continue to do so as the campus is open. Staff and faculty will continue to receive direction in this regard from their supervisors/dean.

Looking ahead

We understand this is not an ideal way to begin this semester. Having returned to a primarily in-person experience this past fall, we are all eager to teach, learn, and work together on campus. By being vigilant now and supporting each other through this time, we will be able to return to campus safely in the near future.

Thank you for your continued efforts as we work to navigate this unsettling and ever-changing time. And thank you to all students, staff, and faculty for your resiliency and ability to adapt to these constantly changing circumstances. We are all better when we support each other and I look forward to the day when we can once again physically gather on our campuses to teach, learn, and work together.

Sincerely,

Mike Mahon, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor 


Contact:

President's Office | president@uleth.ca