Students, staff, and faculty at Simon Fraser University began the walk out of classes at 11 a.m. Monday to demand a delay to a full return to in-person learning.

It’s the first day students are going back to classes in person since the beginning of the winter break and those who are participating are demanding access to a safe learning environment during the Omicron COVID-19 spike.

The plans came together after SFU announced on Jan. 11 it would be restarting in-person learning. By comparison, UBC has extended online learning until at least Feb. 7. Walkout organizers want SFU to consult with academic heads, deans, student leadership, and union representatives before making any further decisions about going back to a fully in-person routine.

Advocates further support making hybrid learning available perpetually for education to remain more accessible to people who face hurdles to coming into class physically. They have called for free N95 masks at SFU, rapid testing on three campuses, and an extension of tuition and course withdrawal deadlines.

The walk out group is gathering at Convocation Mall and travelling to the SFU upper bus loop. An anonymous SFU student confirmed students will be going home in protest after the gathering.

“The university unfortunately has not been listening to the safety demands of students and workers, so we’re hoping by students, staff, and faculty coming together, the university is forced to listen. So much of this would have been preventable had the university consulted with students and workers on the return to campus.”

Ideally, they say, SFU would extend hybrid learning until the Omicron wave is over.