Western is delaying the start of winter term and moving classes online as the university continues to take safety precautions in light of growing concerns about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.
After consulting with health experts and campus leaders, and with the approval of the Western Senate, Western and its affiliate colleges Brescia, Huron and Kings, announced that winter term will begin January 10, and online classes will remain in place until January 1. 31. The extended vacation will allow faculty and staff to transform classrooms into virtual platforms and ensure that students have the best online learning experience possible.
“We know this is difficult,” said Western President Alan Shepherd. “Returning to online learning, if only for a few weeks, is not our ideal scenario, but we hope that this preventative measure will prepare us for success in continuing the school year.”
The university will remain closed for holidays for one day longer than originally planned, and will reopen on January 4.
Due to the nature of their work, some professional programs and clinical learning in health sciences and medicine in-person for the winter term will resume on January 4, libraries will reopen on January 4, and some research activities will continue to take place. conducted on campus.
Resident students are requested to postpone their return to campus, where possible, until the resumption of in-person study on January 31.
The surge in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks and the continued threat of the Omicron variant – believed to be more contagious than its Delta predecessor – have prompted government and public health officials across Canada to take new measures to limit the spread of the holiday-bound virus.
County governments are taking measures to speed up vaccination and increase access to booster shots, in an effort to increase the public’s protection against Omicron.
Last week, the Middlesex London Health Unit announced new public health recommendations to limit transmission, including limiting indoor and social gatherings to 10 people, and advising individuals to work remotely, where possible.
Shepherd encouraged members of Western society to heed public health advice and to exercise caution during the winter holidays. “Please consider keeping your gatherings small to minimize the impact on our community and the community you may return to. We want everyone in the community – including loved ones – to remain safe and healthy.”