Western University. (File Photo by Victoria Sartor, BlackburnNews.com)Western University. (File Photo by Victoria Sartor, BlackburnNews.com)

Western moving most classes online

While elementary and secondary students in Ontario will return to class after the holiday weekend, most Western University students will not.

The university announced Thursday that it is moving the majority of its in-person classes and exams online, as of Monday. It is also encouraging students who live in residence to move out early, if they are able.

“These were difficult decisions,” Western President Alan Shepard said in a statement released Thursday. “Positive cases are continuing to rise across the region and the province – and we’re seeing that pattern emerging among our students and in some residences. We want to do everything we can to stop the spread.”

Students who do move out of residence by April 11 will be offered pro-rated refunds. The university says it will continue to provide housing to students who can't move out of residence and return home until after exams are finished.

Local health officials have raised concerns about the recent spike in cases in London and Middlesex County and the percentage of those cases that are linked to the university. On Wednesday, a fifth residence outbreak at Western was declared by the Middlesex London Health Unit after positive cases were reported at Medway-Sydenham Hall. That followed a declaration of an outbreak at Elgin Hall, where seven people tested positive. Outbreaks remain active at Ontario Hall and Saugeen-Maitland Hall. An outbreak at Essex Hall has been resolved.

While most in-person classes will move online next week, some health related classes will continue. These include clinical in-person classes related to medicine, nursing, and rehabilition sciences. The university also says a small number of non-health related classes that can't be modified for on-line learning will go ahead.

“This has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone,” said Shepard. “I’ve seen most members of our community really rise to the challenge, and I know we can push through. We need to stay on guard, and stay safe. The finish line is approaching.”

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