We’re developing UAlberta student COVID data to help fill in the blanks. To learn about COVID-19 trends on campus and how students feel about returning to in person learning, we've launched three anonymous surveys in the last week and are releasing some of the initial results. We plan to use further surveys to look at trends in ways that the University and the Government of Alberta have not.
Here’s a snapshot of what UAlberta students are reporting in one of our surveys:
- 10.4% or one in ten respondents has tested positive, 2/3 of them in the last six months. The proportion of students reporting COVID-19 is comparable to provincial data.
- Of students who caught COVID-19, 1 in 5 had serious or severe symptoms.
- Law, Pharmacy, and Education were overrepresented among the students who had serious/severe symptoms. For example, of the 14 Law students who took one of our surveys, every single one had contracted COVID-19 in the last six months and experienced serious symptoms.
In another recent survey (n=940), 18% said they would probably feel safe and comfortable coming back right away; 61% would prefer various return dates in late January or February; and 21% said they probably wouldn't feel safe coming back for the rest of the semester at all. Meanwhile, half of UAlberta students surveyed reported that they or a close friend or family member have tested positive for COVID-19.
We expect to learn more about the Omicron variant’s impact in the next few weeks. We will continue using this data to amplify students' voices and right for their safety and priorities.
The University needs to commit to measures like accessible PCR tests, boosters, masking, and ventilation. Since the Government of Alberta has improved masking requirements and RATs for K-12, extending similar protocols and support for PSE students is crucial.
Students need expanded access to testing and rapid antigen tests, which only detect acute infections. The UAlberta’s campus rapid testing program is only available for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff with approved vaccine exemptions, which leaves vaccinated students, faculty and staff without reliable access to testing on campus. Access to testing is vital for students assigned to practicums, co-ops, and other work-integrated learning opportunities. Measures like these are critical for a safe return to in-person learning. As we learn more about the Omicron variant and AHS releases new information, we hope to continue collecting and sharing data about student experiences with COVID-19, which will help guide our decision making.