The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and Capilano University have announced they are extending their upcoming winter breaks, so students and staff can better prepare for another term under pandemic restrictions.
Students at all three schools will now be returning to class on Jan. 11 instead of Jan. 4. UBC said the change applies to both its Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.
"As many of you have noted, there have been extraordinary pressures on our students, faculty and staff this year due to COVID-19," UBC president Santa J. Ono wrote in the notice.
"The hope is that by allowing a delayed start to classes, we can help our students, faculty and staff to better prepare for Winter Session Term 2."
Post-secondary institutions around the world have spent the term adjusting to remote learning, with both students and faculty becoming all too familiar with the challenges of distanced education — from misunderstood assignments to allegations of cheating on virtual exams.
SFU and Capilano University said both groups need the extended break.
"We recognize everyone is tired as we deal with the changes this pandemic has brought to how we teach and how our students learn," wrote SFU vice-president, academic and provost Catherine Dauvergne.
"This one-week delayed start provides faculty with additional time to prepare for the beginning of the new term in a remote, adapted model," said the statement from Capilano. "Students will have a longer break between terms to rejuvenate, and more time to prepare for classes."
Capilano said the delayed start means the spring term will end on April 16 instead of April 9. SFU said the start of classes in the summer term will also be delayed by about a week.
UBC did not specify when its spring term will finish, but said exams will still be written no later than April.
As for elementary and high schools in B.C., the Ministry of Health has not announced plans to extend the winter break — but the option is not off the table.
"It's incredibly important for families and for children to have in-person, in-class [education], but we're looking at all of our options,'' Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters on Nov. 16.