UBC Okanagan students will get a week off in November starting in the fall of 2021.
Previously, the school year only had one full week break, Reading Week, in the spring. But Okanagan staff have been working towards giving students a mid-November Reading Week as well, around Remembrance Day.
To accommodate the new week-long November break, the exam period will be shortened from 14 days to 12.
Besides a week off in their first term, Okanagan students will also now have a later start for their second term. Instead of starting from the first week of January, Okanagan students will start classes in the second week.
Dr. Ananya Mukherjee Reed is UBCO’s provost and vice-president academic, and she said the changes are based around the feedback her office has heard from students during the pandemic.
“This isn’t an extension of the holiday break necessarily, but just a delayed start (to the second semester) to give staff, faculty members and students time to catch up,” she said.
“This year, we delayed the start of the second term to give people time to catch up and recoup from being on screens all the time. It also gave faculty time to prepare online materials so they didn’t have to work during the Christmas break.”
Mukherjee Reed said the goal is to offer students a bit of a break after finishing mid-term exams and projects, before learning more and start preparing for the end-of-term exams.
“This just gives them some extra time to catch up on readings, to reflect, to give them a break both mental and physical,” she said.
Overall, students and faculty have adjusted to the circumstances as best they could, she added, but the lack of social connection still weighed in the minds of many.
“The levels of stress, we’ve found, is sometimes higher because online engagement can sometimes require more intense attention. On top of that, our students are studying in 18 different timezones so for faculty and students to adjust, respond and keep up, it’s not easy,” she said.
“So the additional time in November and January just helps people adjust to the pace a little bit and to perform better rather than being stressed and rundown.”