U of S anticipates most students will be back on campus this fall

The University of Saskatchewan is banking on having the majority of its fall classes be in person.

Most classes will be in person, but safety precautions such as masks will still be required

Most University of Saskatchewan students should be back on campus this September. (University of Saskatchewan)

The University of Saskatchewan is banking on having the majority of its fall classes in person.

"We are anticipating that most offerings will be in person and that most students will have in-person activity, but it will not be all," said Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, U of S associate vice-president and chair of  the university's Pandemic Response and Recovery Team.

The fall term is being called transitional and will still offer some classes remotely.

Students can go online to see what classes will be held on campus. They'll be able to start registering for classes in June. 

Some staff will work remotely

Besides students and professors returning to campus, other areas such as food outlets and student residences will also open up.

"We will be trying to offer as much flexibility as possible, but we're hoping that with all the planning and the practices, that we can convey and create a very safe environment that people feel welcome on our campus," Marciniuk said.

Some staff who do not have direct contact with students will continue to work remotely.

How fast everyone returns to campus depends on whether COVID-19 numbers continue to fall.

Marciniuk said if the pandemic is waning, "then we would envision and are planning for a gradual increase in return of just about everybody."

U of S student union president Tasnim Jaisee is encouraging all students to get vaccinated before returning to campus. (CBC)

Newly elected University Student Union president Tasnim Jaisee said safety should be the No. 1 priority for students and staff.

"I think a lot of people are excited to be getting vaccinated," Jaisee said.

"Personally I will be getting vaccinated and I am encouraging all those around me to get vaccinated as well.… Having a safe community returning back to campus is very important to a lot of us."

Pandemic precautions remain

Marciniuk said the university will follow the province's guidance on reopening, and there will be a number of safety precautions remaining in place.

"So we will still have masking. We will be avoiding large gatherings, although we expect that some of the physical distancing requirements will be lessened. There will still be attention to hygiene and disinfecting," he said, adding there are plans to offer vaccinations on campus. 

There will "still be some things that I think are smart in terms of preventing and managing any potential issues, but it's going to feel much more normal than it has for the past year," he said.

The sign at the entrance to University of Saskatchewan.
If all goes well, the university anticipates campus life will be close to normal by January. (Courtney Markewich/CBC)

Jaisee said those are important first steps to ensuring everyone is safe, but, "I would like to see a full on safety plan for students going back to campus and I am hoping to get news of that from the university in the next few months."

Huskie athletics and other recreational clubs on campus will also start back up, although there won't be large gatherings.

If all goes well, Marciniuk anticipates the campus will fully reopen in January.

"We believe that if we're careful between now and then, if we work toward as high as possible vaccination uptake, that that will become reality."

With files from Saskatoon Morning

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