This update is provided for archival purposes only.

Public Health guidance and University of Waterloo operations may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our COVID-19 frequently asked questions.

Preparing for an online start to the winter term

Thursday, December 16, 2021

This message was originally sent to undergraduate students by Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor, and James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic and Provost.

  • Fall exams will continue as previously scheduled 
  • Classes will begin on January 5, 2022 but those classes scheduled for in-person delivery will begin online 
  • We will return to in-person delivery for classes scheduled for in- person as of January 24, 2022 or as public health conditions allow 


The spread of the Omicron variant is the latest challenge posed by COVID and it is coming at a pivotal time of year for you at Waterloo – the fall examination period, with the winter break just around the corner and the upcoming term on everyone’s mind.

As we mentioned to you in our winter break message earlier this week, we need to stay vigilant and keep doing the things we know limit the spread of COVID. We have continued to discuss plans for the winter term with public health officials. While we remain hopeful that we can get back to in-person experiences, the introduction of the Omicron variant has altered the trajectory of the pandemic.   

We have worked to ensure you can complete your courses for the current term. The last in-person exams are scheduled for Friday, December 17, with the remaining scheduled exams being held online next week.  

While much remains to be learned about this new variant, it is spreading at a much faster rate than previous variants.

We all need to do our part to reduce levels of contacts in the community to “flatten the curve” and buy time for people to receive third doses of a vaccine. This means we need to make some short-term changes to our plans based on the guidance we have received from public health officials.  

Learning and working will happen primarily online  prior to  January  24 

When classes begin on January 5, we will start teaching and learning online. We expect to return to in-person experiences as of January 24, as public health conditions allow. Students should plan to be back on campus when in-person teaching resumes. 
We know that some learning must continue to happen in person. Some courses and learning activities, including clinical programs and some lab-based experiences, will continue in person. Students in these courses can expect to hear about academic plans from their program or faculty.

Our residences will remain open for those students living there. Our residence community can expect to hear more from Campus Housing over the next few days.

Food Services and Athletics facilities will continue to operate in line with provincial guidelines and we will continue to make some study spaces available on campus. In all public places, you must continue to wear a mask and physically distance from others.

We will let you know about any changes to these temporary plans in  early  January 

We know that changing plans at this point in the year is difficult and creates extra stress for you, possibly affecting your housing, travel and course choices. We are making this difficult decision to promote safety, to provide some certainty in another period of change as well as give us time to get booster shots when we become eligible. We remain hopeful that taking these actions now will allow our planned expansion of in-person experiences for everyone later this winter. 

It is especially important to take care of yourselves and one another during this stressful time. The pandemic continues to present many challenges and we urge you all to take some time for rest, reflection and rejuvenation following your end of term assignments and exams. We will continue to work closely with public health officials over the winter break and if these temporary measures for the winter term need to be changed or be extended, we will let you know as soon as possible after University operations resume on January 4, 2022.

Please keep watch on your email and visit the COVID-19 website for more information.