W’22 Advocacy Update: Housing Crisis & Omicron

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Wren Alden
WUSA Education & Equity
Fri, 12/17/2021 - 11:30

Advocacy Update

We’ve heard your concerns about the planned return to campus this Winter 2022 term. We know that the pandemic is ongoing, housing is in short supply, and there are increasing concerns about the Omicron variant’s spread. We know that many of you are unsure if you’ll be able to get to your classes on campus without putting your (or your community’s) health and safety at risk. Right now, we’re advocating to maximize learning opportunities for students who won’t be able to be on campus consistently, improve the availability of on-campus spaces for those who can, and protect the health and safety of our whole Waterloo community.

The situation is always subject to change based on the evolving health and regulatory landscape around COVID-19 and as of this morning it was announced that classes will remain online until Monday, January 24th. Further updates may be shared over the holiday break and WUSA will keep members in the loop if they are.

Many of you haven’t yet secured housing for the Winter 2022 term, and are considering long commutes, unsafe or expensive living situations, or taking fewer courses. We hear you, and we’re doing our best to address this situation. Make sure to review our tips on housing before signing a lease, and don’t forget about your transit options through the GRT U-Pass. Talk to your academic advisor about ways to meet your academic goals, such as taking courses without in-person components, online courses from other institutions, or submitting a Plan Modification. If you’re experiencing extenuating circumstances, including from impacts of housing or COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Academic Advisor for support.

We’re currently advocating for you to the University to ensure a continuous learning experience for students who can’t consistently be on campus. We’re requesting that all courses record lectures, post all class materials (like slides and handouts) online, and provide equal opportunities to earn marks remotely (participation, final projects, and everything in-between). This would mean all students can participate in their classes whether you’re on-campus all the time, have to miss a few classes, or are accessing everything remotely. As always, no one should feel pressure to come to class sick.

While WUSA is advocating on these issues, the University may decide not to act on them. If you have any questions about a particular course, email the instructor directly. For those who will be on-campus next term, we’re working to ensure you’ll have safe places to eat, study, and relax between classes. Provincial standards are still changing, but group study spaces and lounges will reopen as soon as allowed, as will more flexible spaces where students can eat. If you need disability-related accommodations for your classes, get registered with AccessAbility Services as soon as you can.

As always, make sure you wear appropriate face coverings when you can’t maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Avoid unmasked indoor gatherings, especially if you’re going home for the holidays. If you have to get together, get a free rapid COVID-19 test before visiting anyone or if you’re feeling sick. Notify your close contacts and self-isolate if the test result is positive. Booster shots will be available after January 4th for people 18+ in Ontario, and you will be able to book your appointment through the Region of Waterloo. We’re talking with partners and are prepared to assist with the booster rollout. The only way for us to slow the spread of COVID-19 is for all of us to do our part.

Wren Alden (they/them)

WUSA Education & Equity

Resources

Winter 2022 Housing Brief

WUSA Return to Campus Housing Survey Report