With the final exam period taking place from Dec. 7 to Dec. 21 and the Winter semester rapidly approaching, the McGill administration has been sending emails to students and faculty outlining ongoing and changing COVID-19 safety procedures. The administration plans to host in-person exams and allow approximately 90 per cent of classes to be delivered in-person next term. Many, however, have become more concerned since the recent discovery of the Omicron variant in Canada on Nov. 29. The McGill Tribune looked into what students can expect for the upcoming exam season and semester.
What COVID-19 safety measures are in place for students taking in-person exams?
Each exam room will be set up to allow for adequate air circulation. McGill has measured the CO2 levels in its buildings and implemented measures to maximize fresh air circulation accordingly. Procedural face masks will continue to be mandated, and fresh masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance of each exam room. The administration recommends that students change their procedural mask every four hours. In the event of an exposure, those wearing the same mask for more than four hours are considered medium- to high-risk contacts, and will be required to get a COVID-19 test.
Academic accommodations for COVID-19-related issues will continue to be offered throughout the exam period. Considerations to compensate for missed exams will be made for any students who test positive for COVID-19 or are required to isolate due to a public health directive, potential exposure, or the instruction of a healthcare professional. The form can be found under the ‘personal’ tab on Minerva.
How has the university responded to the emergence of the Omicron variant?
According to McGill media relations officer Frédérique Mazerolle, the COVID-19 situation is being monitored closely, and so far there have been no changes in procedure for either the exam season or Winter semester.
“The university has contingency plans and will put in place additional measures if warranted, based on public health guidelines and factual information,” Mazerolle wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “Unless epidemiological conditions change very significantly in Montreal, final exams will continue to be delivered in the format as described in the course outline.”
By means of a university-wide email, the administration also asked students to reconsider international travel to avoid being stranded in light of changing travel restrictions in Canada and abroad.
How will classes look during the Winter 2022 semester?
Courses with less than 200 students enrolled—which account for approximately 90 per cent of all classes—are expected to take place in person next semester, though some of these courses may still have a hybrid component. Just like the Fall 2021 term, if a course is being delivered remotely, it will have no room assignment on Minerva. The 200-person limit does not apply to research laboratories, which will be back to full operation.
The Academic Accommodation Policy offered throughout the Fall 2021 term will continue to be offered in Winter 2022 to accommodate students that miss classes, deadlines, and/or assignments for COVID-19-related reasons. For the upcoming term, instructors have been encouraged to include modes of remote participation for in-person classes, and to offer leniency for assignment due dates.
Will the rapid tests for asymptomatic students at Trottier continue to be offered next semester?
According to a Dec. 2 email sent out by Associate Provost Chris Buddle and Deputy Provost Fabrice Labreau, the rapid testing centre in the Trottier building for asymptomatic individuals will continue into the winter semester. Having found 64 positive asymptomatic cases out of 1,350 tests administered, the university considers the testing initiative a useful tool in preventing outbreaks on campus. There are plans to expand the testing options offered, with further information to come.