VANCOUVER — The University of British Columbia says assurances from public health officials have influenced its decision to continue with in-person exams, despite concerns from students about the spread of COVID-19.
Kurt Heinrich, the university's senior director of media relations, says deans will allow students who are worried about their health - such as those who live with family members or others who are part of a high-risk group - to ask for their exams to be deferred.
He says in a statement that public health officials told staff that COVID-19 transmission is very uncommon in structured educational settings because of high vaccination rates and the safety measures in place, and that in-person exams can proceed.
It comes after students and their representatives called for the cancellation of in-person exams over concerns about the lack of distancing in exam areas that hold hundreds of students, as well as symptomatic students attending these exams.
Heinrich added that the school's administration has worked closely with health officials to ensure students are kept safe.
He says the University of Victoria's decision to cancel in-person exams was made in a different public health context.
"Public Health has confirmed that cases among staff, students and faculty at UBC have been lower than in surrounding communities, and when cases do occur, the vast majority of acquisition is in homes and social settings," he said in a statement.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, announced new restrictions to come in to effect on Monday over fears of the Omicron variant overwhelming hospitals.
They include a 50-per-cent capacity limit on venues that hold more than 1,000 people, a ban on youth and adult sports tournaments over the winter holiday period, and the cancellation of all New Year's Eve parties.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2021.
The Canadian Press