COVID-19: UMSU Reaction to U of M Decision to Hold Courses Remotely for Fall 2020 Term

 

Winnipeg, MB – The University of Manitoba today announced that it plans to hold courses remotely during the Fall 2020 term, due to the coronavirus pandemic being expected to linger for the foreseeable future. All courses will be offered online, unless the criteria for mandatory in-person instruction is met.

This announcement comes on the heels of similar decisions having been made by UBC, McGill, the University of Ottawa and other post-secondary institutions across the country.

UMSU has been in close communication with U of M administration throughout the decision-making process leading up to today’s announcement. While we recognize that the proposed changes to course delivery may have certain negative effects on the student learning experience, we fully support whatever measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of students and our community.

Moving forward, UMSU will remain vigilant in ensuring that student interests and the quality of education that students receive is upheld during these changes. We will be finding creative ways to reach and engage students remotely throughout the term as well.

Of particular concern to UMSU is that the one in ten post-secondary students at the U of M that do not have a personal computer or home internet access are not left behind in the transition to online course delivery.

Student affordability also remains a key issue. UMSU will continue to advocate for ways that the university can reduce student fees for campus services that can no longer be offered under social distancing guidelines, as well as whether the proposed changes warrant a reduction in tuition fees. UMSU also strongly believes that wholesale move to online learning creates an unprecedented opportunity for institutions to save students money through the adoption of open educational resources in course programs.

Said UMSU President, Jelynn Dela Cruz: “We fully acknowledge the gravity that COVID-19 has on students and the post-secondary landscape, especially for those without access to the resources needed to continue their studies in this new reality. While we – as 25,000 students – have a large role to play in flattening the curve, we’re asking our provincial and federal governments to make student accessibility and resources a priority.”

Said Vice-President Advocacy, Kristin Smith: “COVID-19, more than anything else to date, demonstrates the crucial need for high-speed broadband coverage across rural Canada. As high-speed internet access is rapidly transitioning from a luxury to a necessity, UMSU is committed to working with lobby groups to heighten the prioritization of this project federally.”

For media inquiries, please contact: 

UMSU President, Jelynn Dela Cruz

pres@umsu.ca

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