Humber College, alongside other post-secondary institutions in Ontario, are changing their delivery methods for the winter 2022 semester.
The update comes as the province sees an increase in daily COVID-19 cases with the spread of the Omicron variant.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, Humber continues to follow government and Public Health guidelines and directives and respond when there are increases in COVID-19 cases,” Humber College said in a statement issued Thursday.
“Due to the growing dominance of the Omicron variant and recent guidance from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, we have decided to move courses and labs online for the first two weeks of the term to provide the Humber community with time to receive their COVID-19 booster shots,” the school announced.
For the winter 2022 semester, all classes and labs will be held online for the first two weeks back, between Jan. 10 and 23, following the Christmas break.
In-person learning is scheduled to begin the week of Jan. 24 with the college limiting on-campus presence to only employees who are required to be on-site.
Dec. 16 saw the highest daily COVID-19 case count since May with 2,421 confirmed cases, with a seven-day average of 1,676, and it appears the province is set to tackle another wave just as the Christmas holidays begin.
Ontario’s Science Advisory Table released new data indicating the Omicron variant would become the dominant strain of new COVID-19 cases in the province this week and is doubling “every three days.”
The effective reproductive (RT) number for the Omicron variant in Ontario is currently at 4.29, meaning every 100 new cases of Omicron will go on to generate 429 secondary infections. What makes this new variant so alarming is all the other variants of the virus combined to have an RT value of 1.27.
Premier Doug Ford announced on Dec. 15 that free rapid tests would be available at pop-up sites and select LCBO locations throughout the province as part of a “holiday blitz.” Ford said qualifying Ontario residents who are 18 years old or older will be able to book their third booster vaccine as of Monday, Dec. 20.
Provincial modelling on Dec. 16 showed daily cases could reach between 5,000 and 10,000 people as of early January 2022 provided the province cannot handle a rapid rollout of booster doses.
Humber and other post-secondary schools have not yet made it clear if booster doses will become mandatory for another eventual return to in-person learning.
With files from Jesse Glazer