Planning for learning continuity in the spring term

January 07, 2022

This message is sent on behalf of Catherine Dauvergne, vice-president academic and provost. It has been sent to all undergraduate and graduate students.


Welcome to SFU’s Spring Term 2022, and if you are new to our university, we are excited to have you join our community.

As many of you know, Joy Johnson, SFU president and vice-chancellor, announced on Dec. 23, 2021 a temporary shift to remote learning from January 10-23. We shared this ahead of time to give students, faculty and staff time to plan for what we knew would be an unusual start to the year. We did not expect to start our term remotely and recognize this is disappointing to many of you. Our expectation today is to be back to in-person teaching after this brief pause. As we learn more about the latest COVID-19 variant Omicron, we now understand this is a different phase of the pandemic and our approach must also be different. COVID-19 will continue to circulate in the broader community and needs to be managed for years to come. Vaccination remains the single most important thing all of us can do to protect ourselves, as well as using layers of protection to limit the spread on our campuses.

How COVID-19 cases on campus are managed

As COVID-19 becomes more common, our regional health authorities will work closely with the university to manage possible outbreaks, while individual cases not related to a local outbreak will be self-managed. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be responsible for notifying close contacts, unless informed otherwise by public health. You can find these new guidelines from the BC CDC on our Return to Campus webpages. I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with these changes as we all continue to work to keep our campuses safe.

Flexibility in learning

First and foremost, we encourage everyone to not come to campus if feeling ill. As we may see higher than normal short-term absences among students, faculty and staff, we ask everyone to remain flexible and understanding of the situation. Your instructors have been asked to consider ways to make it easier for students who are unable to attend classes, and we also ask that you anticipate that instructors will themselves have periods of illness during the term. Unfortunately, individually tailored considerations would add enormously to instructor workloads and cannot be expected of our instructors in these circumstances.

Academic Concessions

As the term goes on, there may be times when you cannot attend class. Again, we ask that if you are sick, then stay home. Likewise, you may experience some other unexpected circumstance, like an accident, a family disruption, or being healthy but in COVID-19 self-isolation/quarantine, which may require you to be absent for a short period.

Academic concessions are granted at the discretion of your instructor in circumstances that may impact your availability or ability to complete course-related activities. Instructor-granted concessions include things like deadline extensions, makeup exams, and alternate assignments. Learn more about academic concessions, when you might need to ask for a concession, and how to request one.

International students abroad

The COVID-19 pandemic has made travel and immigration planning particularly difficult and frustrating for international students and their families. For help with immigration and travel, please contact our International Student Advisors and Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants. You will also find many of the answers to your frequently asked questions here.

Mental health and well-being resources

I want to remind everyone about the consequences of going through a pandemic as we have for the past two years. None of us can know for sure how much the pandemic has affected the mental health of the people around us. Let us remember to be kind to each other, take care of ourselves, and seek to better understand one another in our interactions.

SFU has a number of mental health resources available for students. If you or someone you know needs help coping, please visit SFU Health and Counselling. Should you need support to self-isolate, we have the CARES program. For other COVID-19 related support, please contact student_support@sfu.ca to speak with a case manager. We understand the importance of supporting your health and well-being throughout your studies.

We know challenges are easier if we work together with compassion and patience – our SFU community is at its best when we support each other.


Yours truly,

Dr. Catherine Dauvergne, QC
Vice-President, Academic and Provost