COVID-19: Hamilton post-secondary schools expect full in-person return closer to February

Both McMaster University and Mohawk College are targeting returns to full in-person learning somewhere around the beginning of February. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Two of Hamilton’s major post-secondary facilities expect the month of January to be a wash for full in-person learning due to the current surge in the COVID-19 pandemic.

McMaster University and Mohawk College have earmarked their return for students closer to February, barring any further restrictions from Public Health Ontario.

The two facilities delayed the plans following the Ontario government issuing new public health measures tied to the surging Omicron variant that included a move online for public schools.

Read more: Ontario families scramble as Omicron forces 2-week school closure

Virtual classes are expected to continue for the bulk of students over the next four to five weeks with some in-person allowances for ‘high-priority’ experiential activities.

“Our plan is to have all classes delivered virtually for the week of January 10th with the exception of some clinical programs,” McMaster president David Farrar said in a release on Wednesday.

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“We will incrementally offer more hands-on learning to our students in alignment with the latest government and public health measures.”

The university will have some students return Jan. 17 for classes that require ‘hands-on’ labs and projecting full in-person classes for all students (undergraduate and graduate) on Feb. 7.

Some researchers continue to be allowed as per a previous phased return that started in May of 2020.

Mohawk College is anticipating a Jan. 31 return for full in-person learning.

Similar to McMaster’s plan, some students will do limited amounts of in-person tasks at the college during January based on academic program requirements.

“We continue to assess the situation as COVID developments unfold and will communicate with everyone affected if that plan changes,” spokesperson Bill Steinburg told Global News.

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Read more: Ontario to receive 54.3 million rapid COVID tests from federal government

All in-person events, including athletics, have been cancelled or postponed until the end of January. On-campus food service options will be limited to takeout only.

Both of the institutions are standing behind the current COVID-19 vaccination policies.

All students, faculty, staff and visitors attending the facilities have to have proof they are fully vaccinated with some exemptions for medical conditions and those who can provide a “validated human rights ground.”

As of late 2021, more than 95 per cent of students at the schools have reported proof of vaccination to administrators.

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