Photo Credit: Memorial University (Via Flickr)
MUNL students are again concerned for their safety as classes return in person, while COVID-19 rates remain high.
On January 19th, 2022, Memorial University announced that students would return to campus at the end of the month under various restrictions.
This decision has prompted a mixed response from the student body, with many questioning MUNL’s decision-making as Newfoundland faces its most severe wave of COVID-19 yet.
Here’s What Students Need to Know About The Winter 2022 Update:
In MUNL’s Winter 2022 Semester Update posted by The Gazette, Dr. Florentine Strzelczyk stated, “St. John’s campus, classes with enrolment of 99 or fewer will resume in person. Classes with 100 or more students will continue remotely”.
“Labs, performing arts programs and practicums will take place in person where possible”.
“Students taking classes with both in-person and remote delivery will have access to spaces on all campuses to participate in their remote courses”.
In order to ensure campus safety, Memorial has employed “a vaccine mandate, mandatory three-ply masks, rapid testing, wastewater testing, occupancy limits and ventilation standards”.
In addition, “Students and employees are expected to use the COVID-19 self-assessment in the MUN Safe app prior to coming to campus each day”.
It was also released, “Memorial is considering adding a requirement for booster shots to the vaccine mandate, based on Public Heath requirements and guidance”.
Most of the information given in the update is not significantly different (minus a few exceptions) from the Fall 2021 semester, which took place entirely in person. However, with a new variant of COVID-19 comes new concerns, resulting in new safety measures and accessibility options.
The Canadian Federation of Students-NL released a letter yesterday stating:
“CFS-NL is calling for university and government leadership to prioritize the health and safety of our community above profit. We are calling for the university to implement support structures that acknowledge the multi-faceted experiences of students by committing to hybrid learning options, effective accommodations policies and clearly communicated contingency plans for students, faculty and staff at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador”.
CFS-NL (via Facebook)
In the letter, CFS-NL also claimed “many students will now be forced to make the choice between accessing their education and protecting their health”.
MUN Student Union (MUNSU) has also issued a letter of response issuing their concern:
“The MUNSU Board of Directors feel very strongly that this decision forces all members of the university community to jeopardize their own health, and the health of their loved ones, to meet the unsafe and exploitative academic and professional expectations handed down to them by MUNL upper administration. University leadership is not prioritizing the health and safety of those within the university community, nor are they considering the concerns of students, staff, and faculty in their decision-making”.
MUNSU (via Facebook)
Memorial University has yet to respond.
In the meantime, a petition has been made advocating for online/ hybrid course options, addressing such safety concerns, that sits at over 1500 signatures.
The petition also acknowledges the concern claiming “MUN is risking the health and safety of over 20,000 faculty, staff and students, as well as their close contacts (at 10 per person that number could be over 200,000)”- about 40% of the population of this province.
The Winter 2022 Semester update may be subject to change, depending on Newfoundland’s evolving COVID-19 situation. We will share information as it becomes available.