This message was originally sent to graduate students by James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic & Provost, and Jeff Casello, Associate-Vice President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA).
- Fall term exams continue as previously scheduled – ending December 17
- Winter term will begin on January 5, 2022 with increased remote activity
- Learning and working will happen primarily online until January 24
- Discuss your research options with your supervisor
- University supports will continue to be available for you
The spread of the Omicron variant is the latest challenge posed by COVID-19 and it is coming at a pivotal time of year for you at Waterloo, with the winter break just around the corner and the upcoming term on everyone’s mind. We know that the variant is another disruption in what has been an exceptionally challenging time. We too feel the frustration resulting from these recurring uncertainties. We are grateful to you for your continued resilience and are eager to support you as you continue your academics.
As I mentioned to you in my winter break message earlier this week, we need to stay vigilant and keep doing the things we know limit the spread of COVID-19. While much remains to be learned about this new variant, it is spreading at a much faster rate than previous variants, and there is a decreased immune protection to disease transmission from both previous infection and immunization. We 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.
Our fall term exams will conclude as scheduled, while other on-campus activities will be limited.
For those of you who are taking courses, we have endeavoured 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.
If you have been coming to campus for research or other academic activities, we remind you of the guidance we provided earlier this week, to limit your personal contacts to limit the potential spread of the variant. Conduct your research, TA or other activities remotely whenever possible. Talk to your supervisor or instructor to develop an end of term strategy.
In Winter 2022, learning and working will happen primarily online until January 24
For the winter 2022 term, when classes begin on January 5, we will start teaching and learning primarily online, with some select course activities – clinical programs and labs, for example – taking place in person. You will hear from your program or faculty about how your classes will be delivered.
If you are scheduled to be a Teaching Assistant (TA) in the winter 2022 term, speak to the instructor of the course to determine a plan for the start of term and develop a strategy on how you can support the delivery of the course at the beginning of term.
We expect to return to in-person experiences as of January 24, as public health conditions allow.
Discuss your research activity with your supervisor
We are developing strategies to support the continuation of research in the winter term. Prior to January 24, if your research does not require you to be physically present on campus, please plan to continue your research remotely.
We expect that some research activities will continue in person. Researchers can expect to hear more from the Vice-President, Research and International if any changes are required to current on-campus research activities and if any updates will be required for research that involves human participants. If your research requires you to be physically present on campus (e.g., lab work), speak to your supervisor.
University services will be available for you
Based on the global travel advisory issued on December 15, regulations and requirements related to international travel to Canada continues to evolve, making plans to arrive in Canada for an in-person experience during the winter term more uncertain. If you have questions about your travel as you prepare for the upcoming term, please contact the International Student Experience team in the Student Success Office (SSO).
Our residences will remain open for students who are scheduled to live with us. Our residence community can expect to hear more from Campus Housing over the next few days. Counselling Services, Food Services, Athletics, the Library and other facilities will continue to operate in line with provincial guidelines. We will continue to make study, research and learning 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 academics – classes, research and TA responsibilities – as well as your travel. 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. We urge you all to take some time for rest, reflection and rejuvenation over the end of term break. 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. In the meantime, know that we are here for you, and with you, and continue to support you in the best possible way – visit the graduate student wellness page for support and resources.
Please keep watch on your email and visit the COVID-19 information website for more information.