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UCalgary board must push back, keep campus health measures in place
Calgary – UCalgary students are alarmed by the letter sent to the UCalgary Board of Governors by Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides. The letter sets out the Minister’s expectations that post-secondary institutions “align their COVID-19 policies and practices with that of the Alberta Government.” This means the government expects students to return to in-person classes without masking, proof of vaccination, and other health protocols in place.
This is unacceptable. The Minister has penned this letter without consulting students and other post-secondary stakeholders. This is a heavy-handed approach by the Minister and one that the SU calls on UCalgary and its Board of Governors to oppose.
“Students are hesitant to return to in-person learning at the end of the month even with common sense health measures in place,” said SU President Nicole Schmidt. “Students certainly do not feel safe without mandatory health measures. It was just over a month ago that students began the semester online and now the Minister and UCP government want to return, almost immediately, to pre-pandemic delivery.”
With COVID hospitalizations still near all-time highs, combined with the government drastically reducing testing capacity, it is difficult to understand this decision. Students will return to in-person learning on February 28th and may be in classrooms with up to 400 other students.
“We were happy when the university announced yesterday that they would maintain their COVID safety protocols as students returned to classes later this month,” says President Schmidt, “and we expect that they hold firm to this and their commitment to ensuring students are safe during this time of transition. It isn’t a lot to ask for these measures to be continued for the last two months of the winter semester.”
The health and safety of students, and our campus community, rests with the Board of Governors. It is the Board that is responsible for making decisions in the best interest of the institution. What the Minister is demanding does not meet this threshold. We call on the university and its Board to make the right decision and continue the common sense health measures that exist on campus as students return.
The SU firmly believes that the Minister needs to step back and not impose a one size fits all approach on Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
External Communications Specialist
University of Calgary Students’ Union