Dawson college students are speaking out against their school’s decision to hold in-person exams despite calls to move them online.

“It doesn’t seem right,” said Karim Osman, a student at Dawson who started a petition to hold exams online only.

He says the petition grew quickly amid student anxieties about the dangers of gathering indoors to write their tests.

“The next day after [the petition was posted] got to 200 signatures,” he said. “The day after, it got to 1000.”

By the weekend, the petition grew to 2,000 signatures. 

Dawson’s exam period runs from Dec.16 to 23. Most exams are not in person, with the exception of those for math, chemistry, physics and some technical courses.

"Organizing final exams is a major operation with the consultation of the DRSP, our local Public Health Authority," said Dawson communications counsellor Christina Parsons. "The DRSP will shut down the exams if they believe that it is unsafe for any reason."

Parsons said Dawson is currently reviewing pans for in-person exams following student reaction.

According to Osman, who has three exams coming up, some students are considering staying home in protest.

“There are whispers of students not going. Something like a walkout,” he said.

Health protocols for in-person exams include:

  • Two-metre distance between students in exam rooms
  • Rooms at 50 per cent or less of normal capacity
  • Staggered arrival times -- students must make an appointment within 90 minutes of exam start time
  • Swapping out students’ masks with new procedural masks at the exam location
  • Mandatory symptoms screening questionnaire to be admitted inside the building
  • Supervisors will be present to check that atudents do not cheat and health protocols are respected
  • Accommodations are being granted for students with a doctor’s note


On Saturday, the Dawson Student Union formally opposed all in-person exams

According to a statement from the council, they’ve requested the school survey students to gauge how comfortable they are with attending in-person exams. 

The council wrote that Dawson should allow all students to write their exams online unless ‘a resounding majority of students’ are in favour of doing them in person.

“Our [student] body's health and safety should all be our number one concern,” read the statement.

-- With files from Gabrielle Fahmy