UBCO has decided to extend winter break by a week to allow students and faculty to better prepare for the upcoming term. This means that classes will now begin on January 11, 2021, with certain exceptions depending on the program. This extension comes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and is meant to relieve some of the pressures on faculty and students during these extraordinary circumstances.
According to a statement released by Santa J. Ono, President of UBC, he acknowledges the stress everyone is under regarding transitioning online. With this in mind, Ono stated “As we head towards the end of 2020, I am pleased to confirm that both our Vancouver and Okanagan Senates have agreed to help alleviate the pressure on our community by delaying the start of classes in most programs for Winter Session Term 2 to January 11, 2021.”
However, this also means that UBCO has had to make changes to their examination schedules to ensure these are still completed in April during exam week. For UBCO students, these implications mean that exam week might consist of “moving to four examination times per day.”
In that case, even though the short-term notion of having an extended winter break sounds appealing, in the long run, it may result in students having less time to study for their exams in this condensed period and having less of a break between exams.
A second-year science student at UBCO, who would prefer to remain anonymous, weighs in on this extension by saying that she “believes this is a considerate decision being made by the university.” She says the previous term has been overwhelming for her in many ways and she appreciates a longer break to mentally prepare for the next year and take a break from the consistent workload.
Upon being asked about the long-term implications of perhaps having less time to study and write her exams, she replied that she is “used to accommodating difficult situations at this point.” She continues to explain that she has written examinations in a short period of time in the past, and that the idea of an extended winter break far outweighs the long term implications.
Along the same lines, Dr. Virginie Magnat, a professor at UBCO, responded to the inquiry if they think winter break ending later is beneficial or if it puts more pressure on them as a professor. To this Dr. Magnat responded with what her faculty has decided:
“In my Faculty (FCCS), we voted in favor of the extension of the Winter Break because we feel that a longer break will benefit the mental and physical health of both students and instructors given the unprecedented circumstances with which we are all confronted this year.”
Thus, even though there is the looming possibility of a condensed examination period, judging by the responses, many individuals seem to appreciate the extended winter break. This extension, as implied by the statements above, is well deserved and it can help benefit students’ and faculty’s mental and physical health given the stressful circumstances.