It was a positive vibe on campus on Tuesday morning, as university students returned to UBC Okanagan.
For most students, it was their first time back on campus since March 2020, when the university shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In between then and now, UBCO, like other Canadian post-secondary institutions, went to online learning — which has its advantages but also has its disadvantages, such as the social component.
“We’re pretty excited (about returning to on-campus learning), but classes are going online slowly,” said Emerson Ferrier, who’s entering her fifth year of university.
“Hopefully we have at least one in-person class. But we’ll see,” said Hanna Olsson, who’s entering her fourth year.
Asked about COVID-19 precautions, Ferrier thinks health officials are doing a pretty good job, “with rapid testing going on now and masks, which, I think, is pretty preventative. It should be good.”
Another student, Grace Yu, said “online schooling is really tiring, and overseas is even worse. So I’m glad to be back.”
Yu says this is her third year, noting she had in-class learning for her first year, but not for her second year.
“It’s fantastic we’re back,” she said. “I missed the class interactions and just the feeling of school.
“At home, there are no friends, just me and my computer. It’s kind of sad, so I’m glad to be back.”
Added third-year student Bistra West: “There’s a lot of nerves, but it’s also very exciting, very refreshing. It feels like a long while (since in-class learning).”
For Isaac Awram, 2021-22 will be his second year of university, after doing his first year online.
“I don’t really know what I’m expecting,” said Awram. “I don’t have anything to compare it to, so I’m a bit hopeful.”
Like other students, Awram understands all the precautions that are in place, adding, “I’m fine if we need to transition back online if it means more people are safe. But for now, I’m just excited to have a bit of a taste of in-person (learning).”
In related news, UBC has mandated COVID-19 rapid testing for all students, faculty and staff — with exemptions provided for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Further, UBC says starting Tuesday, Sept. 7, all students, faculty and staff must complete an online, confidential declaring their vaccination status.
The school says if you’re fully vaccinated, you will receive further communication outlining how to verify your vaccination status.
If you’re not fully vaccinated, or you choose not to disclose your status, UBC says you will receive further communication about the rapid testing program.
All UBC students, faculty and staff are being asked to complete their vaccination status declaration by Sept. 10.