Wilfrid Laurier University’s Sept reopening plan hurts students’ academics & mental health

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Sept reopening plan hurts students’ academics & mental health

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Nancy Peterson started this petition to Wilfrid Laurier University (President) and

Concerned students are outraged to hear that Wilfrid Laurier University has not prioritized 100% in-class learning starting in September 2021. Currently their goal is to return to on-campus learning by January 2022. WLU’s latest communication has made no changes since their April communication “Because we don’t know what public health restrictions will be in place in the fall, we are also planning options to scale down in-person delivery as necessary to meet any moderate or high restrictions around physical distancing, gathering size and safety.” Their current communication reiterates "The vast majority of our students and instructors have made plans for the fall and changing those at this late stage would create disruption for our community".

Other top universities in Ontario - specifically University of Western Ontario, Queen’s University, and University of Toronto  - have laid out plans based on Ontario public health authority guidelines, to enable full in-person learning this September 2021 as their top priority and commitment to students. Queen's University for example has laid out a detailed framework and given broad communication on their assumptions to offer 100% in-person classes this September as their priority and mission to deliver world class learning.

Mental health of our youth has suffered significantly during the past 16 months with all remote learning and quarantine. A research team at Sick Kids surveyed more than 1,000 parents of youth.  Across six domains of mental health – depression, anxiety, irritability, attention span, hyperactivity, and obsessions/compulsions – 70.2 % of school-aged youth reported deterioration in at least one domain. Another 2020 study by CAMH states clearly that young people are more likely than others to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression due to the impacts of COVID-19 and social isolation (source: Mental Health in Canada: Covid-19 and Beyond CAMH Policy Advice, page 2 vulnerable populations). Another study published by campusmentalhealth.ca corroborates the critical findings related to mental health and risks around substance use among youth, due to continued social isolation. 

Please take a minute and sign this petition to ensure the message, already emailed to WLU’s senior leadership team led by Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, continues to push them to re-think their current plan. You can also email her directly at president@wlu.ca. This plan only cautiously opens up some labs, libraries and extracurriculars but is not committed to offering full in-person classes in September. Their rationale is that they have a small campus and do not have enough real estate to meet Public Health requirements for in-class learning. They also stated last week "For the fall term that commences in six weeks, and for which 95% of students have registered for courses, the university will continue as planned". We believe they are taking the easiest, cheapest path and de-prioritizing academics and the mental health of WLU students. There are many options to offer more in-person classes, by renting larger spaces to accommodate up to 100 students. If timing is an issue, they can roll these out in October if necessary, to deliver their academic mandate sooner.  

Ontarians aged 12 and older have had the opportunity to receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose since July 1, with many receiving two doses before the end of August. As of July 18, 70% of Canadians have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and almost 50% have received two doses. Canada has also just surpassed the US in second-dose vaccine rates, yet the US is fully reopening all public and private schools (K-12), colleges and universities. Students are desperate for in-person learning.  

Thank you for your support! 

Signed, Frustrated students at WLU

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!