In light of the increased transmissibility and continued health risks posed by the Omicron variant, the McGill School of Social Work announced via email on January 4 that it would extend e-learning until February 25 at the less. The McGill Tribune obtained the January 4 email and several others, including one sent two days later, January 6, informing the students that the university had denied the School’s decision.
Many students at the faculty, including Jo Roy, U3 Social Work, were disheartened by the news.
“[Getting the second email] was like a punch to the face, ”Roy said. “I blame McGill for its bullying, and essentially bullying, not only of our school, but of other McGill faculties as a whole.
In line with the Quebec government’s Dec. 17 announcement that universities cannot hold face-to-face classes until Jan. 17, McGill announced on Dec. 31 that classes would run virtually until at least Jan. 24. This announcement excluded Level 1 activities, such as labs, clinical classes, and music classes, which cannot be delivered remotely.
Social work students, however, objected to the scheduled return date, citing risks to themselves, the institutions they work in, such as hospitals, local community service centers, and residential and nursing homes. long-term care, and the communities they serve. as reasons to continue virtual learning until it is safe to return in person.
“[There are] around forty people in [my] cohort, and if you take the students [doing stages] in the second year cohort […] it’s almost 100 impact points for COVID to spread in vulnerable communities, ”Roy said. “We go to other community organizations in mainly marginalized and racialized communities [….] I don’t want any of us to be a point of propagation for these communities. “
Codey Martin, U3 social service, was not surprised by McGill’s decision. Like Roy, Martin believes that returning to face-to-face classes does not prioritize the health and safety of the entire Montreal community, but says he will continue to work with those he serves despite the circumstances. .
“The work I do continues independently, with or without education,” Martin said in an interview with the Tribune. “It is the natural law of an assistant to always help people who need help. But at the same time, I’m sure many in the McGill community are probably having some tough decisions to make.
Many social work students began to explore steps they could take to communicate their disagreement to McGill. In addition to consulting with the McGill University Student Society and the Association of Students of Social Work, the students met with law professor Richard Gold to understand the legal grounds upon which McGill made his decision.
In an email interview with the Tribune Gold said McGill headquarters had no reason to revert the School of Social Work to face-to-face teaching given the adoption of a course delivery setting for the winter academic term. 2022 at the McGill Senate meeting on November 17.
“In the fall, at the initiative of the administration, [the] Senate adopted […] guidelines for online education, ”Gold wrote. “Although he recommended that 80% of the teaching be in person, he left the actual decision to [individual faculties] [….] Rather than respecting the orientations that she herself advocated, [the administration] ignore them.
Asking for comment on this situation, Frédérique Mazerolle, McGill Media Relations Officer, on behalf of the McGill administration, wrote that the university remains dedicated to the health and well-being of students.
“Uncertainty regarding the impact of the new Omicron variant remains high,” Mazerolle wrote in an email to Tribune. “However, we intend to resume in-person education as soon as possible and safely and when government directives permit. Our planning for the winter of 2022 remains flexible and if the COVID-19 situation changes, we have contingency plans in place. “