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Starting Winter Term Online

Dear students, faculty and staff, With all that we have experienced over these past years, I am sad to be sending you this message. However, I am convinced that we must start the Winter Term primarily online in order to help reduce the rapid transmission of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Only two days ago, the Government of Alberta announced that the Omicron variant has become the dominant variant in Alberta, and since then it has spiked further, especially in Calgary.

There is still much to learn about this variant, but the one thing that we do know is how quickly it spreads. Therefore, in order to maintain the health and safety of our campus community, we are joining with the majority of universities in Alberta by starting our Winter Term primarily online. By primarily, I mean that most courses will move temporarily to online delivery. Courses with content that requires in-person learning activities, such as laboratory, music, dance and theatre courses, may receive special consideration. 

Students registered for in-person classes will receive further details over the holiday break on how this temporary shift to online teaching and learning will affect their courses. Faculty, too, will receive more information on how to plan for the delivery of courses during the first weeks of the term. Our hope and desire is that courses temporarily moved online will resume in-person on January 31, 2022, but we cannot guarantee this. We will keep the community informed as we track the spread and impact of the Omicron variant.

In coming days, students planning to move into residence, as well as Ambrose athletes, will receive information on what to expect during the early weeks of the Winter Term. By early January, we will determine and announce adjustments to on-campus events, such as chapel. The campus will be open but subject to the previously announced Proof of Vaccination Program (PVP). Employees will receive further instructions concerning their presence on campus. I encourage everyone to watch email for updates.

By reducing the number of people on campus, we make it safer for those who must be present, whether to care for students and facilities, or to participate in learning activities that require in-person attendance. In addition, by helping reduce the spread of the Omicron variant, we allow healthcare professionals time to assess the new variant’s potential impact, and we help the healthcare system maintain capacity for those suffering from other serious illnesses.

Ambrose University continues to encourage everyone to take advantage of COVID-19 vaccines. In Alberta, all those who are at least 18 years old are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot five months after their second shot. Early evidence on the Omicron variant strongly suggests that vaccines continue to protect us against severe outcomes.

With so many unknowns accompanying the spread of the Omicron variant, we need to act cautiously, which is why we have made this move to temporary online learning. As soon as we deem it appropriate and reasonably safe, we will return to in-person classes and activities. In the meantime, we will update you as more information becomes available.

Finally, I wish to thank each of you for working with us, as together we respond to the unexpected twists and turns of the pandemic. My sincere hope is that this interlude is brief, and that the Ambrose campus can return to in-person activities early in the Winter Term.

May the hope of the Christ child be our encouragement and joy in the coming weeks.

President Gordon T. Smith

Thursday, December 23, 2021
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