TRU students will still return to in-person classes this year despite rising COVID cases | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TRU students will still return to in-person classes this year despite rising COVID cases

August 30, 2021 - 6:28 AM

Despite a continued rise in new COVID-19 cases in the province, Thompson Rivers University has no plans to reverse course in returning to in-class sessions for the 2021-2022 school year.

The university will have a return to regular in-person classes last seen in the fall 2019 semester, with vaccinations mandated for those who live in residence, customers of the on-campus pub and attendees for sports events, in accordance with public health guidelines.

"There's no question that come September, we're back in the classroom. It will look a lot like 2019, except with masks and some extra cleaning," TRU vice president Matt Milovick said, adding that only an unexpected COVID-19 variant, unmanaged by vaccines, would be the only factor risking a return to classes.

New public health guidelines are implementing vaccine requirements in B.C. in order to attend indoor events and services like restaurants, sporting events and fitness facilities. Proof of a first vaccine dose will be required starting Sept. 13, with the second dose requirement starting Oct. 24.

READ MORE: Vaccine card mandate a step too far for some Kamloops, Okanagan businesses

The locations where vaccines will be required are not considered essential services, which is why Vancouver-based defense lawyer, Kyla Lee, said the vaccine cards do not infringe on charter rights. However, restricting access to education could infringe on those rights.

Milovick said mandating vaccines for an entire campus to access education would be a "massive leap" from the current requirements.

There are some instances where online options for classes that would normally be in-person are still available, which applies to international students who may have travel restrictions still in place due to COVID-19.

Otherwise, the school has a quarantine policy for international students coming to Kamloops, which includes a 14-day isolation period at one of the 35 on-campus residences set aside for this purpose.

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Other than those 35 suites set aside for quarantines, the university is seeing a surge in demand for its on-campus residences. Milovick said there is roughly a 100-person waiting list at each of its buildings, driven by high rental demand in Kamloops.

A request for information on returning to class to UBCO and Okanagan College were not answered.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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