Photo Credit: Emily George (Via Facebook)
Hundreds of concerned science students question the safety of in-person labs as new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, surges in NL.
As Newfoundland and Labradors COVID Cases continue to rise due to the Omicron Variant, Memorial University has returned to an online learning environment until at least January 31st, 2022. However, there is great concern among hundreds of Faculty of Science students currently, as all labs will be conducted in-person for the Winter 2022 Semester. This is despite the consistent surge of COVID cases announced daily in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Since then, what has initially emerged as a group chat between a few Science students expressing their concern has since turned into a petition, signed over 500 times advocating labs get conducted remotely while rates of Covid-19 transmission remain high.
The Faculty of Science has not released a public response regarding such concerns. However, The Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU) released a statement this afternoon, Tuesday, January 10th, 2022, stating:
“Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU) stands in solidarity with undergraduate students completing an undergraduate degree with mandatory in-person requirements, including Bachelor of Science students with in-person labs.”@MUNSU35 on Instagram
Student Jessica Martin expressed her concern about in-person labs in an interview stating,
“I, along with the rest of the students leading the conversation about the current situation of in-person labs for this semester, believe that we aren’t fully being heard in terms of our needs and concerns. Students don’t feel safe with the current protocol in place, as detailed by the science department. We feel the administration should be transparent in their action plan if an outbreak should occur. We feel simply stating things will be dealt with individually is not adequate, nor does it put many of us at ease. As students, especially those in the final years of our degree, we are concerned about penalties for labs missed due to a mass outbreak or individual contraction of COVID-19. We ask that MUN present an action plan for such an occurrence and keep students involved in decision-making that gravely affects us. Though we agree that the development of lab skills is of importance, we believe students should be given all information necessary to make an informed decision if attending an in-person lab is the right decision for them”.
In addition, Student Kira Whittaker was asked by Muse Reporter Jenna Reid if potentially contracting COVID-19 could be considered worth the risk to gain hands-on lab experience? Whittaker stated, ” many students feel they are missing out on lab experience with labs being primarily online. The safety and feeling of safety of all students should be MUN’s main priority. I have spoken to students who are at risk or have loved ones at risk of COVID due to being immunocompromised. These students are choosing to defer their semester or even drop out of courses requiring in-person attendance to avoid going to school. Then there are people like myself in the fifth year with required courses that I cannot drop and have to attend despite feeling unsafe. It is the concerns of these students that worry us the most that MUN is not listening to those that are taking losses to their education for fear of their safety and the safety of their loved ones”.
Ireland, another student, says, ” Under the “modified high” impact level, it states under density that we need to “work remote or have at least 114 sqft per person. However, pre-authorized labs, performing arts, etc., need only 52 sqft per person” I just can’t understand how it’s deemed unsafe for most of mun, but labs don’t count.”
As a result, such students believe Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador are not hearing its students’ safety concerns, and they want a plan of action regarding COVID isolation plans if the circumstance arises.
Do you think The Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUNL) is bypassing epidemiological science for the sake of science students?
Click the link below to sign the petition: