Some students at Western University in London, Ont., fear a return to online learning has grown, after a series of parties over the weekend prompted a stern warning from the school.
“We have seen a disturbing trend over the past few days that puts our entire year in jeopardy,” Western president Alan Shepard and University Student Council president Zamir Fakirani said in a joint letter. was released on Tuesday.
Safety measures around the COVID-19 pandemic forced online classes and resulted in the cancellation of most campus activities during the 2020-2021 school sessions.
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The letter goes on to describe “several large gatherings near the campus – along with some aggressive behavior that puts the safety of others in jeopardy,” adding that if activity continues, aspects Direct aspects of campus life planned for this year, such as individual, foreign language and athletics classes, may be lost.
While the letter provided no further description of where the gatherings took place or their size, it did inform students that “everyone must continue to follow provincial guidelines.”
Ontario is currently in Step 3 of its reopening plan, which limits indoor gatherings to no more than 25 people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people. Other longstanding restrictions, such as wearing masks in indoor public spaces and maintaining a physical distance of at least two meters, still apply.
Western also requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for anyone on campus. Only those with a Medical or Human Rights Code exemption may not be vaccinated, however, they will be required to be tested for the virus regularly.
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Jennifer Miller lives close to where some parties take place, but claims she only hears noises from small friends.
“I don’t know about the Broughdale parties going on and the street partying – that’s what I see on social media and how am I really? Do we need to do so? “Miller said she is in her fourth year at Western.
“I hope that people can get it out of their system and then when school starts, things can go back to normal, so we can continue to have in-person classes.”
Her feelings were echoed by Jordan Henderson, who is also hoping her fourth year will end with an in-person graduation.
“We’re really close, so if we can hold out and just make the right decisions for a few weeks, I think we could be in a good position,” added Henderson.
While he understands how the COVID-19 pandemic can fuel a desire to party, sophomore John Oh says he appreciates the West’s response to large gatherings.
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“Do I live on the street? So I just saw a lot of people spilling out onto the street and stuff… you never know where this person went or came from,” Oh said.
This year will mark Oh’s first in-person experience at Western, after he was forced to spend the entire last year studying remotely, something he longed to make up for lost time.
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He says this creates a difficult balancing act, as he still recognizes the need to make sacrifices to follow health guidelines related to COVID-19.
“I just hope that students continue to be safe and practice protocols and what not, but at the same time they can still have fun, either way,” Oh said.
“I think it’s time for us to be creative and open to different possibilities.”
Also looking to make up for time online is Nikolas Grue, a sophomore who just experienced his first college class in person on Wednesday.
“I like it so far and, fingers crossed, I hope it stays like this because I definitely don’t want to be online again,” Grue said.
In September 2020, gatherings and other events led to dozens of COVID-19 cases among Western students, but this was followed by a decrease in partying in neighborhoods. students, leading to a “fake homecoming” (FOCO). celebration later that month.
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Grue hopes history will repeat itself, but his friend and sophomore Artai Shoghli says he’s less optimistic.
“It’s been a year and a half and people don’t seem to notice, so I think it’ll be over soon with being online again,” Shoghli said.
“I hope not, but I don’t see anything that will change… We can do our part, but those who don’t want to accept it, we can’t change their mind.”
Dr Alex Summers, medical officer with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) said that while the Delta variant raises concerns about COVID-19 cases it is linked to the behavior documented in the photograph. letter from Western, it helped increase rates of immunization for post-secondary students, along with the immunization mandate at universities.
“My hope for the students now is that you are fully vaccinated and that you are remembering that we are not out of the woods yet,” Summers said.
“In our area, almost 74% of people (aged) 18-24 have had at least one dose, 63.4% have had two, so it is definitely high, but it needs to be even higher. .”
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