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Some universities cancel in-person exams after rise in COVID-19 cases

Some universities are adjusting their plans for end-of-semester exams in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The University of Victoria in British Columbia will not be holding any further in-person exams this month.
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Some universities are adjusting their plans for end-of-semester exams in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The University of Victoria in British Columbia will not be holding any further in-person exams this month. The school said its instructors have been asked to offer alternative exams online or in another format.

Queen's University in eastern Ontario has also postponed in-person exams due to rising COVID-19 case counts in the community. Exams will be changed to an "alternative delivery format" if possible, and those that must be done in person will be postponed until the new year.

The school initially said students who were concerned about the local COVID-19 situation could choose to defer their exams, but later said it would postpone all in-person exams and reduce capacity limits at its library and athletics centre.

The changes come after the Kingston, Ont., school confirmed a virus outbreak in the student community, and after the local health unit announced a case of the Omicron variant not linked to travel.

Queen’s is advising students to avoid social gatherings and said it’s planning to distribute rapid COVID-19 test kits soon.

In Nova Scotia, St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish told its students on Friday it had decided to discontinue in-person exams for the current exam period.

The school said faculty members will change the exams' format to online or take-home exams.

Other universities said their exam plans were unchanged for now, but they were monitoring the public health situation

The University of Toronto said it was consulting with public health experts and will adjust plans as needed. The University of Waterloo and Western University said they are monitoring the situation.

"Western (University) continues to work closely with the Middlesex-London Health Unit," said the school spokesperson. "We are in conversation with them right now as we assess what the current landscape means for our community."

Yanni Dagonas, a spokesperson of York University in Toronto, said most of the exams at the school are already talking place remotely.

"All in-person activities, including exams, continue to be governed by our mandatory vaccination policy, mask mandate and physical distancing guidelines," he said.

"York continues to monitor updates concerning the new Omicron COVID-19 variant."

A spokesperson of Ryerson University said the vast majority of the school exams are being held online with less that one per cent of final exams held on campus.

"For the small number of in-person exams taking place, (the school) has developed protocols to keep our students, faculty and invigilators safe, including vaccination requirements, ventilation and air purification, health screening and personal protective equipment," the spokesperson said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2021.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

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