University of Alberta announces plans for in-person classes for winter semester

University of Alberta students and staff can expect a mix of in-person and remote instruction during the winter 2021 semester, the school announced Thursday.

“This decision, subject to evolving public health guidelines, best creates the meaningful learning and engagement so essential to student experience, and will maximize the number of students that can safely be on a campus,” president Bill Flanagan said on the university’s blog. 

The decision was reached after consultation with health experts and the community, he said.

“While we have made progress both on our campuses and within Alberta, we know that COVID-19 will be with us for some time yet — as we were reminded this week with the outbreak in St. Joseph’s College Residence,” Flanagan said.

The 22 residents at St. Joseph’s went into isolation after Alberta Health Services notified the post-secondary institution on Sunday that five people had tested positive for the virus.

Despite the concern, the university is keen to provide in-person education whenever possible, Flanagan said.

“We will continue to prioritize in-person learning where it is essential for program completion or progression; and, we will explore all opportunities to increase our current roster of in-person course offerings,” he said.

Details on the in-person offerings will be available in mid-November.

Flanagan said the school is committed to gradually and safely opening physical campus spaces as provincial and U of A public health measures allow.

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