University College of the North (UCN0 classes will not start until two weeks later than originally scheduled after the Christmas break.
Winter term classes will begin Jan. 18 instead of Jan. 4 in an effort to ensure that those students and staff who do take part in in-person classes are healthy when the term begins.
“We’ve seen in Canada the impact that holidays can have on COVID cases, with spikes attributed to Thanksgiving in October,” said UCN academic and research vice-president Dan Smith in a Nov. 30 news release. “Delaying the start to the term helps ensure that UCN does not become a site of transmission should there be a post-holiday spike in January.”
The original start date of the term was less than two weeks after Christmas day. The incubation period for COVID-19 – the time from exposure until symptoms appear – can be as long as 14 days, though it is often less.
Most UCN classes are being delivered online or through other remote methods but there are some, in field such as nursing, where in-person instruction is required to provide hands-on training.
“This decision is taken in the interests fo everyone who may find themselves at a UCN facility after Christmas,” said president Doug Lauvstad. “We are taking responsible steps to ensure that UCN is protecting the health and safety of northerners.”
The provincial government has been looking at options such as extending the winter break for kindergarten to Grade 12 schools or delivering classes through remote learning only for the first two weeks in an effort to ensure schools do not become a major site of novel coronavirus transmission following the holidays, when it is expected that some people will gather regardless of whether public health orders forbid it or not.
The delay in starting the winter term will set UCN’s academic schedule back by two weeks for the entire term.