On Friday, Queen’s University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane confirmed that students will be returning to in-person learning on February 28th. The decision was slated to be made in early February, but the university says that recent announcements made by public health officials and the provincial government have made the decision clear.
“I had promised to let the community know our decision by early February, but with the government announcements earlier this month for a staged reopening of the province and recent direction for the postsecondary sector from our Ministry and public health earlier this week, I can be definitive,” wrote Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane on Friday.
In his letter, Deane acknowledged the impact that the pandemic has taken on the community as a whole. “The many months of isolation and uncertainty have had an enormous impact on our lives and I know that now, more than ever, we must support one another with kindness and generosity,” added Deane.
The announcement comes as several university services begin to reopen next week.
Beginning January 31st, Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC). Dining Halls, Queen’s libraries will be opening with capacity limits. On-campus work is expected to resume pending further instructions from the Ontario Government.
The return to in-person learning has generated mixed opinions from students and staff at Ontario universities. Some students who are fully vaccinated have argued that they should be given the chance to attend in-person classes starting at the beginning of the semester, stating that they have done their part.
Other student unions at universities such as uOttawa and Carleton University, say that there’s still too many unknowns.
“Our members don’t want to get sick. They don’t want to go home and make their families sick, either. And this goes for students as well,” Angelo Mingarelli, a mathematics professor and president of the Carleton University Academic Staff Association told the Toronto Star. Carleton University students are expected to return to in-person learning on February 7th.
At Queen’s University, specific details have not been released, but Principal Patrick Deane says that a “more detailed memo about our academic delivery and the return of students to campus will be released next week. Updates will continue to be posted to the Safe Return Website.”