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COVID-19: Western University shifting exams online to combat rising case numbers

Western University in London, Ont, on May 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Mark Spowart

Western University has announced plans to move all in-person exams online as a precaution to keep the students and staff safe with rising COVID-19 case numbers.

As of Tuesday, the university is dealing with two outbreaks in student residencies, one at Delaware Hall and another at Saugeen-Maitland Hall.

“While our case counts remain low, we are watching what is happening across the country and have decided some proactive steps are prudent in the face of Omicron,” Western president Alan Shepard said.

The university reports 99 per cent of the on-campus community is vaccinated.

The decision comes other post-secondary institutions have already made similar calls.

Read more: St. Lawrence College moves exams to ‘alternate delivery’ as COVID-19 cases rise

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Exams scheduled to start Dec. 15 and 16 will continue in person, unless students have been notified by their teacher directly, while those set for Dec. 17 to Dec. 22 are being shifted online.

The university said previously scheduled online exams will proceed as planned.

“The decision to shift exams online was made to ensure students and employees are able to enjoy the holiday break by limiting in-person contact throughout the rest of the term,” Shepard said.

“We recognize this decision may prove disruptive to some, but the health and safety of the Western community is our top priority.”

Read more: Queen’s University students can postpone exams over COVID-19 anxiety

The move comes after the Middlesex-London Health Unit announced new public health recommendations to limit indoor, social gatherings to 10 people, and is advising individuals work remotely, when possible, in an effort to reduce transmission.

The MLHU reported 71 new cases on Tuesday with 475 active cases and 14,760 now resolved.

The university is also noting that as of Tuesday there has been no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms.

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