Exams at the University of Victoria have been moved online.
The move comes amid an outbreak of more than 130 confirmed COVID-19 cases that are linked back to two off-campus parties that were held by business students and varsity athletes.
“We are continuing to work closely across the sector, and with public health officials to determine if we need to make any necessary adjustments,” the school said in a statement to CHEK News.
While exams have been moved online, classes are slated to resume in person on Jan. 10. However, the university says that could change given the growing uncertainty of the Omicron variant.
“As we’ve done throughout the pandemic, we’re all ready to respond to changing situations when we need to,” the statement reads.
At least 15 of the confirmed 137 COVID-19 cases linked to the UVic outbreak are the Omicron variant and the school says there has not been any on-campus transmission of the virus.
“We have taken a number of steps to create a safe learning environment for students and know the measures we have in place are working. Even when it comes to this cluster of cases, it appears none of the transmission occurred on-campus,” UVic said.
Although the University of Victoria has moved its exams online, not every other school has. The University of British Columbia has continued to hold in-person exams, which has caused concern among many in the school and wider community.
One UBC student said on social media that their exam last week was in-person and that there are roughly 450 students inside a single room and that the desks were about 2 feet apart.
The university’s Alma Mater Society issued a public letter to administration saying students have come forward expressing concerns about the lack of distancing in exam halls that hold hundreds of students, as well as symptomatic students attending these exams.
Eshana Bhangu, the society’s vice president of academic and university affairs, said an “overwhelming” number of students have reached out to share their concerns.
She said the society has heard of little social distancing, people testing positive and attending exams as well as students being forced to sit on the floor and write their exams due to a lack of space.
“I’m looking for the university to demonstrate some leadership,” Bhangu said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
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.
With files from The Canadian Press
my MATH 215 exam this last Wednesday in OSBO A at @UBC. ~450 students and ~10 invigilators, with about 2 feet of space between each desk for 2.5 hours. no vaccination requirement or symptom checking as per UBC policy. picture only shows about 3/4 of the room. pic.twitter.com/fE9Mhzs4gr
— 🌿 (@RobinMathesonn) December 18, 2021