Classes were scheduled to resume Jan. 6
On Friday Dec. 4, the senate passed a motion to extend winter break.
Classes will resume on Jan. 11, instead of Jan. 6. Administration staff and instructors are still expected to return to work on Jan. 6, and campus operations will resume. Because of employer contracts, practicum and co-op courses will still begin their semesters on Jan. 6.
In order to account for the three academic days lost, the April final exam schedule will be reduced by one day and exams will be held on Sundays in that period. The exam break will still end on the same day and reading break will not be affected.
Other universities in B.C., including UBC and SFU, have already voted to implement a longer break. UVic’s decision was motivated by a concern for student’s mental health and the instructor’s expressed need for more time to prepare for the semester.
Over 3 700 students recently signed a Change.org petition for a later return to classes, citing mental health concerns. The proposal brought forward to the senate further establishes that a majority of students feel they need a break, and prefered the option of changing April’s exam schedule. Meanwhile, the instructors consulted indicated that they spent the summer preparing for the fall semester of online courses, and required more time to get their Brightspace pages fully set up.
The Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) brought forward the concern that a shorter exam break would result in more back-to-back exams. Holding exams on Sunday, however, is likely to prevent this increase.
A longer winter break will be reflected by reducing the exam period by one day with the addition of two Sundays, although that increases the chance of students having two exams in one day by 26%. The chance of students having back to back exams, including a 7pm exam followed by a 9am exam increases by 55%.
Alternatively, if Sundays were not utilized and the exam period was shorter by three days, both of these scenarios increase by over 100%.
International and domestic students will be able to self-isolate after their holiday travel, and the university says the extension will give them a better chance to review any post-holiday changes in COVID-19 case numbers. Students with children would also benefit, as some school districts are considering extending their winter breaks.
In trying to make this extension possible, the Senate discussed shortening the number of instructional days. They also considered cancelling the reading break. Ultimately, too many administrative headaches and an ongoing concern for student’s mental health led to the dismissal of the first two options.