Wilfrid Laurier University continues the transition to in-person learning

On Jan. 31, Wilfrid Laurier University began a four-phased plan for a transition back to in-person learning with the plan resuming until the end of February.

Despite the risk of COVID-19 transmission among large groups of people, Laurier, similar to other institutions, has decided to proceed with the return.

“When [COVID-19] cases flattened out, you saw elementary and secondary schools go back, now you’re seeing a gradual releasing of the rules, you’re seeing restaurants opening up, sports facilities opening up, and higher education institutions opening up. We need to get people back, and we’re happy to be doing it in a phased, gradual approach,” Ivan Joseph, Laurier’s vice-president of student affairs, said.

The institution has made this decision as the pros outweigh the risks.

“We’ve got the scientists that are informing our decision making, and they’re saying it’s safe to come back,” he noted.

The school plans to continue following and enforcing public health guidelines and recommendations.

“Be double vaccinated, get a booster, wear your mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and we can help maintain a relative level of safety.”

Joseph said that some services will remain online.

“We’ve learned some lessons from the pandemic: some students like their career centre online, they like their counselling centres online, we’re going to have Zoom workshops, we’re going to have some advising, so certain things are going to stay online … but we will have physical people here on campus, and we will have classes here on campus to the best of our capacity.”

He said that the university took into account a lot of factors before making the decision.

“We took the account of the safety of all our constituents, meaning our faculties, our staff, our students, our administrators.”

The university’s mandatory vaccination policy and face-covering policy are still in effect.

“We feel like we can bring people back according to the public health guidelines in a safe manner and that will continue to be our place: enhance cleaning, making sure your double vaxxed encouraging people to take the boosters, we will continue to do so and monitor the situation.”

Joseph said that immunocompromised students will be accommodated.

“If students are immunocompromised and they’re documented, we will accommodate them, send us that documentation to the Dean of Students Office, and we will work with them through our ALC office … that office will work with you to make sure that we can find a way to accommodate you.”

For the general student population, Joseph said that the university will continue to follow public health guidelines as learning goes back to “normal.”

“We’re never going back to the world that we lived in before the pandemic and the sooner that we can all return to living in a safe, responsible way, the sooner we get back to being the new normal.”

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