January 26, 2022

On January 21st, 2022, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) held a press conference to discuss recent Executive and Council decisions regarding COVID-19 safety.

The SFSS released a statement on December 23rd, 2021, calling on Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the Provincial Government to enact stricter health measures and provide immediate support for students returning to on-campus learning, noting concerns amid the rapid rise of the Omicron variant. As a student-focused and student-led organization, the SFSS’ decisions are, and continue to be, made with the intent of fostering community care and limiting the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19. 

The Learning Experience and COVID-19 Student Feedback Survey was made available to students from January 11 to January 22 and received over 5,300 submissions. This data consists of nearly 20% of the SFSS Membership (SFU undergraduates). The findings indicate the main themes of student concern revolve around safety, health and wellness, and institutional action. 

The data collected from the survey support calls by the SFSS and the students at large, particularly the calls to consider hybrid class options for courses with large enrollment numbers. Almost 80% of students surveyed wanted some component of remote learning. 45% of the surveyed respondents highlighted the desire for comprehensive remote learning options, whereas 28% preferred a hybrid model, while 5% preferred remote learning with an in-person exam option. Respondents who felt safe about in-person teaching and learning during the Fall 2021 semester largely attributed it to the flexible teaching model adopted by the university. 

When analyzing trends seen in the data, the SFSS identified 66% of respondents who expressed varying levels of discomfort in returning to full in-person learning, ranging from ‘uncomfortable’ to ‘fairly comfortable’ and ‘slightly uncomfortable’. 30% of respondents identified feeling ‘very comfortable’ or ‘comfortable’. The remaining respondents identified not applicable. Though students expressed a range of comfort with the return to campus plans, the data in correlation with the other answers determine that respondents prefer remote or hybrid forms. Many students stated in written responses that they were experiencing mental and emotional strain around in-person classes. You can find the results of the Learning Experience and COVID-19 Student Feedback Survey here.

In line with calls for current student attendance models to be more accessible and equitable, 94% of students shared that they would benefit from lecture recordings for the Spring 2022 semester.