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Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier universities delays in-person classes next year

Click to play video: 'Ontario expanding rapid COVID testing strategy in light of Omicron' Ontario expanding rapid COVID testing strategy in light of Omicron
Ontario expanding rapid COVID-19 testing strategy in light of Omicron – Dec 15, 2021

The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University say classes that were scheduled to have in-person learning next year will now be delayed due to the rapid rise of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Waterloo says that in-person classes will not take place until at least Jan. 24 while Laurier announced it will hold off until at least a week later.

Both schools announced that fall exams would continue as previously scheduled.

Read more: Ontario reports 2,421 new COVID cases, nearly double from a week ago

“We have worked to ensure you can complete your courses for the current term,” a letter signed by Waterloo president Vivek Goel and vice-president James Rush read.

“The last in-person exams are scheduled for Friday, December 17, with the remaining scheduled exams being held online next week. ”

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The letter goes on to note that the Omicron variant is spreading more rapidly than other versions of COVID-19.

“We all need to do our part to reduce levels of contacts in the community to ‘flatten the curve’ and buy time for people to receive third doses of a vaccine,” the letter says.

“This means we need to make some short-term changes to our plans based on the guidance we have received from public health officials.  ”

The school says that some hands-on learning sessions will take place such as labs and clinical-based programs, with staff expected to reach out to students to notify them of this is the case.

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Read more: Vaccines not enough to curb Omicron spread, stronger public measures needed, Ontario modelling says

Residences at both schools will also remain open while athletic facilities and food services will follow provincial guidelines.

Laurier also said employees will work remotely if possible in January.

The region’s other major post-secondary institution, Conestoga College, said Thursday that “plans are still in place for the return to more in-person learning and working on Conestoga campuses in January 2022.”

However, it noted that the situation is rapidly evolving and that plans could change.

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