Students brace for delayed return to campus

News Staff - Fri Jan 14, 2022

The University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) supports the University’s decision to postpone a return to in-person learning until February 28 (after Reading Week) due to rising case counts, test positivity rates, and hospitalizations, based on AHS recommendations. The University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, and other post-secondary institutions across Canada are taking similar measures or are facing comparable demands from their students.

“Though this delay is significant, we hope that this will ensure both the safety and wellbeing of students and our communities as a top priority” says Rowan Ley, UASU President, “we respect that it’s necessary and public health comes first. We’re fortunate there was greater lead time surrounding this decision, allowing folks to get their boosters and adjust their Winter plans.”

Although this delay is a frustrating step back for all of us, the University's decision to postpone is in line with most students' concerns. In early January, when the Omicron wave was significantly less severe, the UASU asked 940 students when they would be comfortable returning to in-person classes:

  • 15% said they would feel comfortable returning right away.
  • 26% said they would feel comfortable returning around January 23 (the University's plan at the time).
  • 17% preferred January/early February.
  • 18% preferred mid to late February.
  • 24% said they likely would not feel comfortable returning for the rest of the Winter 2022 semester.

In short, even in early January, half of UAlberta students already preferred a mid-February return or later, and most preferred a return date that was later than the official plan at the time. Since then, the Omicron wave has intensified significantly.

Your UASU will continue to advocate for improved communication with students around the University’s response to Omicron. At students' request, the extended drop/delete deadline for classes has been moved from January 17 to January 21, allowing students extra time to make decisions about their classes. We will continue pushing for improvements to EClass to maintain a higher level of online learning quality and accessibility. Consistent with student and community advocacy, the University has also begun performing critical ventilation audits to protect against airborne transmission of COVID-19.

“The UAlberta student community has shown tremendous resilience during the few short weeks since the new year,” says Talia Dixon, UASU VP Student Life. “We’re advocating for increased access to on-campus COVID-19 testing so that all students know that, if they need to, they can get tested.”

If you or a loved one need access to vaccines and COVID-19 testing, please see the Government of Alberta's rapid testing and vaccine distribution programs. Boosters are available through Alberta’s Vaccine booking system, at your local pharmacy or by calling 811. For more information on mental and physical health support, see UASU Cares, an interactive wellness resource designed to connect you with the services you need. If you wish to connect with UASU leadership about our advocacy on these issues or additional supports, please email

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Ari Campbell

External Relations Specialist

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