Winter 2021 semester delayed

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, universities across Ontario have made the decision to extend winter break.

This includes the University of Toronto, Western University, McMaster University, Laurentian University and the University of Waterloo

When news first broke out among students that various universities had announced a winter break extension, students at McMaster created a petition in fear that their university would be an exception and not extend their break. 

The very next day after the petition was posted on social media, McMaster made its announcement that winter term classes would be delayed. 

Winter classes were originally planned to commence on Jan. 6. Now, the school has announced that the Winter 2021 semester will begin one week later on Jan. 11. 

Although classes may be delayed, McMaster said that this does not mean the semester will end at a later date.

Although classes may be delayed, McMaster said that this does not mean the semester will end at a later date.

Instead, the school said that the exam period in April will be condensed to accommodate this change and therefore, the winter semester will end as originally planned. Classes will be extended into the exam period, and there will be no overlap between classes and exams. 

McMaster’s announcement said that the decision was made following a recommendation from the Virtual Learning Task Force and was supported by the president and vice-presidents. 

The school said that they had taken into consideration students’ wellness and mental health. Delaying classes by a week will hopefully provide students with a bit more time to recharge and also gives faculty members and staff the chance to better prepare for the winter semester. 

“[T]hose who went home for their Christmas break [will also have] the chance to isolate for an additional week to help limit any potential COVID-19 cases,” the school added in their announcement. 

“[T]hose who went home for their Christmas break [will also have] the chance to isolate for an additional week to help limit any potential COVID-19 cases,” the school added in their announcement. 

Although the winter break extension came as a relief for many students across the province, some students at McMaster proposed an alternative solution to encourage better wellness for students. 

A petition was started asking the university to create two reading weeks instead of one and discard the winter break extension. 

These students argue that a winter break extension would not help prevent students from experiencing burnout throughout the semester. Hence, giving students an extra week off during the semester can allow students to get some extra rest between their studies. 

“This is needed in a time where students are at home with little guidance or motivation, who require an additional break during the semester, whenever possible. This is a great opportunity to attend to the mental wellbeing of students. It is unfair to delay the semester for people who refrain from travelling in an attempt to limit potential COVID-19 cases,” the petition stated. 

Reading week for the winter term currently remains unchanged and will occur from Feb. 15 through Feb. 21.

Winter break will officially begin for students at McMaster on Dec. 23 following final examinations and students will be continuing their studies virtually for the rest of the winter term.

Image courtesy of Graphic by Sybil Simpson

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