Omicron Variant and UBC Term 2

A message from Rob Kozak, Professor and Dean, UBC Faculty of Forestry
December 22, 2021


By now, you will have received the communication from Santa Ono and Lesley Cormack regarding planning for UBC 2021/22 Term 2.

I would like to clarify some points, and contextualize them by letting you know how the Faculty of Forestry will be proceeding.

First, it is important to say that we are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution.  Currently, we find ourselves in a period of maximum uncertainty, and we need a bit of time to navigate these murky waters and allow for accurate modelling of projections and patterns of the Omicron variant to emerge.  In addition, this buffer gives us a chance to break the chains of transmission that may have occurred over the holidays and more handily manage expectations of our entire Forestry community.

As the letter states, the campus will still be open in January.  Please note the following key points:

University:  The entire campus will remain open during this period.

Remote Work:  Beginning January, everyone’s remote work agreements will be in place.  However, I would like to encourage as much flexibility as possible to allow for increased remote work during this period, should operational requirements permit.  Please contact your unit manager / supervisor to determine when and how often you are required to come to campus.  Each manager should communicate their team’s plans to Leslie Fernandez as soon as possible.

Online Teaching:  All classes will be online until at least January 24th, although we continue to explore the possibility of teaching some of our Professional Masters courses in-person (to be determined shortly).  For the most part, teaching online during this interim period will mean teaching synchronously using Zoom (and perhaps making recordings of classes available).  Classes will be held at their scheduled times, and we will not be making any scheduling changes to accommodate students in different time zones.

We will do our very best to provide you with all of the supports needed to ensure a smooth transition.  For the time being, please visit the Faculty of Forestry Teaching and Learning Support website for all kinds of great resources, tip sheets, and examples for teaching in an online modality.  Our Teaching and Learning Team (led by Michelle Zeng) and our Information Technology Team (led by Carl Johansson) will at the ready if you need help, or have any questions or concerns.  More details will come as we work through this transition.

Students:  We have sent communications to undergraduate and graduate students regarding the pivot to online learning, letting them know that classes will be delivered at the originally scheduled times and that they are expected to be on campus by January 24th at the latest.  Note that there may be issues with students (especially international students) arriving back at campus on time, and I would encourage instructors to approach these situations with as much compassion and flexibility as possible.  Concurrently, our Student Services Teams (led by Chiara Longhi and Julie Morey) will make sure that we have adequate student supports in place for the beginning of term.  Please read the correspondence below sent to undergraduate students this afternoon.

Communications:  Please don’t be tethered to your emails over the holidays!  I will try to limit my communications, and send information only when necessary.  If people would like, we could hold a town hall in early January to discuss this transition further.  We also plan to hold a number of online teaching drop-in sessions – more on this later.

Holidays:  I have listed a number of individuals above who will be critical in ensuring a seamless transition to online teaching next term.  However, please be aware that most folks are on holidays between Christmas and New Years.  I would ask you to respect their time off as much as possible, and be understanding if you do not receive an immediate response to your queries.

That’s about it for now.  Obviously, this is not the send off that I wanted prior to the holidays beginning.  However, given the rapidly evolving situation, it is critical that we proactively prepare for the January term and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our entire Forestry community.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

All the best, and stay safe and well, everyone.



A message from UBC Faculty of Forestry Students Services and Graduate Student Services,
December 22, 2021

Dear Faculty of Forestry Students, 
I hope that this finds you safe and well, as you all prepare for a well-deserved break.
I would like to follow up on today’s communication from President Santa Ono regarding the interim period of online learning that will be happening at UBC until January 24, 2022.  This letter is to outline what you can expect from the beginning of Winter Term 2 until January 24th.  Links to student support and other resources are also listed below.  Our hope is that this information will provide you with some certainty and allow you focus on enjoying your holidays.
First and foremost, we are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution.  This interim period of online teaching will provide us with the time required to make the best choices possible moving forward in light of the rapidly evolving Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.  The safety of our Forestry community is our primary concern.
In order for you to better prepare for this interim period of online teaching, please keep the following in mind:

  • Most classes will be delivered synchronously using Zoom, and recordings of many classes will be made available for asynchronous learning as necessary.  Your instructor will provide confirmation of this and any further details that you will need to know.
  • Classes will be held at their originally scheduled times.  For those of you who are currently outside of Canada, we hope you are able to return for the start of term.  If you are unable to return by this time, and the time zone differences make it difficult to attend, please consult with your instructor for instructions on how to proceed.
  • Instructors will continue to offer scheduled office hours.  These will be delivered 100% online unless otherwise specified.

 Buildings, Facilities, and Research: 

  • All Faculty of Forestry buildings and facilities will remain open to students, faculty, and staff.  We recommend mask use in the buildings, especially in shared offices and laboratories, and medical-grade masks are advisable.  We also recommend for those who have travelled during the holidays to work from home for a period of one week upon their return.  Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, including those specific to the Omicron variant (sore throat, sneezing, congestion, headache, fatigue), should not come into work and should seek testing for COVID-19.  Research activities will continue within the Forest Sciences Centre.  However, please contact your supervisor for specific directives or details about the use of laboratories and shared office spaces.

 Support for Students: 

  • For undergraduate students, the Student Services Team will be available to support you virtually.  Their contact information is below.
  • For graduate students, including Professional Masters Students, the Graduate Services Team will be available to support you virtually.  Their contact information is listed below. 
  • UBC offers mental health and well-being support to all students, as does the Faculty of Forestry.  Please see below Resources section for a link to further information.

 What We Ask of You: 

  • Stay safe and healthy.  Follow local health restrictions carefully.
  • If you are abroad, please organize your travels to allow for potential quarantine requirements to ensure that you are able to attend classes on campus starting January 24th.
  • When Winter Term 2 begins, stay involved in your classes by making yourselves fully available, as you normally would, for classes, group work, team meetings, lab work, research, etc.  When in doubt, ask your Instructor or Supervisor.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.  Our hope is that in-person learning will resume on January 24th.  In the meantime, we very much appreciate your attention, cooperation, and patience during this time.  We sincerely look forward to seeing you all back in-person soon.
Stay safe and well.
Rob Kozak,
Professor and Dean


Resources and Support 
Please refer to for the latest information from UBC during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty of Forestry, Student Services Team (Undergraduates)
Dr. Sarah Gergel, Associate Dean, Academic

Dr. Scott Hinch, Associate Dean, Students

Chiara Longhi, Director of Student Services

Ana Curcin, Student Advisor/Recruiter

Janna Rumary-Kellett, Student Advisor/Recruiter

Lydia Braam, Student Engagement Officer

Nazlyn Pirani, Forestry Co-op Coordinator

Sanya Sivic, Wood Co-op Coordinator

Joris Jun, Transfer Program Manager

Support for Mental Health and Well-Being
Please click here for full details on the counseling and support offered to Faculty of Forestry students and community.

Faculty of Forestry, Graduate Services Team

Dr. Shannon Hagerman
Associate Dean, Graduate & Postdoctoral  Studies Graduate Program Advisor

Julie Morey
Director, Graduate Student Academic Services

Jorma Neuvonen (Professional Masters Students) 
Assistant Dean, Professional Education and International Collaboration

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