UVic students and staff express concern about return to campus

The University of Victoria (UVic) campus was quiet on Friday, but come Monday, students will be back as in-person learning resumes.

"I’m excited but also a bit nervous, probably like most people," said Victoria Jackson, a recreation and health education student at UVic.

"Of course there’s hesitations because of COVID, but if we’re being safe, I think we should be OK," said Daniella Snyders-Blok, a theatre student.

Snyders-Blok is happy to get back into the classroom because studying theatre from home is challenging.

"It’s very difficult and there’s a lot of hands-on set design that you can’t learn about online," she said.

HYBRID LEARNING

Access4All is a student-led group that represents students with disabilities, compromised immune systems and chronic pain. Access4All co-chair Jonathan Granirer says now is not the time to be going back to full in-person classes.

"Well, obviously a lot of students are really concerned but a lot of students are really excited to get into the classroom," he said.

Granirer wants to see the university offer an option or a hybrid education, "which would give students the option of attending in-person or online."

University of Victoria Faculty Association says that's not an option.

"That is something that the Faculty Association has opposed from the start," said Lynne Marks, president of the UVic Faculty Association.

Marks says the university has also been against asking its faculty members to teach a class both online and in-person.

FACULTY OPINION

The association polled its members about the return to the classroom and the results speak for themselves.

"About three-quarters are very concerned about returning at this point," said Marks.

She added that faculty would have liked to see the university hold off in its return to in-person learning for a few weeks.

"So that we could wait and see hospitalizations going down, case numbers going down," said Marks.

The University of British Columbia has just pushed back its return to in-person learning until Feb. 7.

Meanwhile, on the island, North Island College, Vancouver Island University and Camosun College all went back on Jan. 10.

"It’s been going well," said Alli Petheriotis, a psychology student at Camosun College.

Petheriotis says she was apprehensive about coming back at the start of the month, but says in-person learning works better for her.

"For hands-on learning, it’s a lot better," she said.

UVic says it is following the advice of the Provincial Health Office. That advice says the most up-to-date health investigations show that when a post-secondary student contracts COVID-19, it is often associated with a transmission at home or in a social setting, rather than classroom.

UVic is telling its students to stay home if they are sick and expects to see a higher level of absenteeism this semester.