To: University of Waterloo community
From: Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor
James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic & Provost
Subject: Confirming our return to in-person learning and work in February
In light of the Omicron wave of COVID-19, and the government’s move to a modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen we announced a few weeks ago that most teaching, learning and work would happen online until January 27.
We are continuing to monitor the effects of Omicron. We recognize the significant impacts each of you face, directly as a result of the disease, and as a result of the public health measures restricting our daily activities.
We are in regular contact with local and provincial public health authorities. Our population of students and employees is well protected against severe illness thanks to very high levels of vaccination. Increasing levels of third dose boosters enhance such protection against the Omicron variant. There are some early signals that this wave is at or near its peak. However, the impact on the health system will be significant in the weeks following the peak. Therefore, we need to continue to do our part to limit the pressure on our community and the local health system by continuing to limit in-person contact.
We know that the uncertainty brought by the latest wave of COVID-19 is disruptive and that many of us are keen to know when we can get back to more in-person learning and working.
With these issues in mind, we will extend the current remote learning and working arrangements for a short period, but we plan to return to in-person experiences in February. We will return as soon as it is practical to do so based on advice from public health officials. In the meantime, as previously announced, we continue to provide essential in person teaching.
We commit to giving you notice of our intention to resume in-person activities at least 14 days in advance. This means the earliest we will return to in-person experiences is Monday, February 7. Students not currently in Waterloo region, be sure to make your plans for an arrival by the start of in-person activities.
We know many of you will have questions about our plan to return to learning and working in person. Please join us on Wednesday, February 2 at 1:30 p.m. for a President’s Forum event. Experts and administrators from across the campus will be on hand to share information on the return to in-person experiences. Register to attend.
To get back to in-person experiences as soon as possible, we need everyone to do their part. There are ways in which you can help flatten the curve and protect yourself against severe illness:
- Get a booster dose as soon as possible, and make sure eligible children are vaccinated as soon as possible. Many more appointments are available now than previously.
- If you need to book a booster dose you can do so with Health Services and there are many online resources to help you find available shots, such as the Region of Waterloo, Vaccine Ontario or Vaccine Hunters.
- If you are an international student and you have questions about vaccinations, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Wear a mask that fits well, has multiple layers, and has an effective filter layer. Wherever you go, please always follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) recommendations on masks.
- Limit your contact with other people and stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. You can take this self-assessment if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.
If we all do our part now to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and protect the healthcare system, we can get back to in-person learning and working. We are both extremely grateful for your patience and understanding as the pandemic continues to cause challenges and frustration for us all.
We also want to stress how important it will be to look out for one another as we all deal with the consequences of this devastating wave of COVID-19. Nobody wanted to be in this situation; everybody is facing stress. Please do what you can to check in on your friends and colleagues and support one another during this difficult time. We have resources for students and employees who are struggling.
Please keep watch on your email, our social media channels, and the COVID-19 information website for more help and information.