Two weeks before U of T's virtual convocation, the school's president has unveiled physical distancing plans for the fall 2020 semester
When University of Toronto students head back to school in the fall, they’ll attend a mix of small, on-campus classes and large online and remote lectures.
In a letter published on May 20, President Meric S. Gertler said that while “much still remains uncertain” as Ontario begins reopening from COVID-19 lockdown measures, “our planning has focused on three guiding principles: promoting health and safety, advancing academic excellence, and meeting the needs of our community.”
During the fall 2020 semester, all three U of T campuses will operate uniquely and reopen on gradual basis “with as much on-campus activity as is practicable, sensible and safe,” Gertler wrote.
Over 100 staff, including deans, principals, and faculty members are collaborating and developing guidelines on how to move forward in regards to labs, residences, libraries, athletics and more. Details will be shared in the coming days.
On-campus labs and libraries will be adapted to meet physical distancing requirements, while courses are being designed to be as accommodating and flexible as possible. How limited class size will be and how students will be seated has yet to be shared.
In-person classes will likely be an option for tutorials and lab work, which are typically smaller, while lectures and discussions will likely be online only, with office hours or in-person consultations available.
“It’s a matter of re-conceptualizing [a] course and using the space differently, not just replicating an in-person course in an online environment,” Susan McCahan, U of T’s vice-provost, academic programs and innovations in undergraduate education, told U of T News.
Still, for those students stressed about their academic future and what shape it might take, McCahan added, “This is how you might start your first term, but it’s not how your whole university experience is going to be. This is the first leg of your university journey, and we will support you through it and support you through all your time here.”
As thorough health and safety guidelines are being developed, the university assured that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing from fall onward.
“As we look toward the fall, we know the recovery will take time, resolve, patience, and resilience,” said Gertler. “There may be setbacks and surprises along the way. But in September, as we welcome new and returning students on-campus or online, we look forward to resuming the rich, vibrant, and stimulating academic life for which the University of Toronto is so widely recognized.”
In two weeks, 15,508 U of T students will graduate in a virtual convocation ceremony. The event ill be made available for public viewing online at noon on June 2.
U of T cancelled all in-person classes across all three campuses in mid-March when lockdown measures took hold. All were moved online by April like most other local universities and colleges.
Last week, Ryerson University announced it would shift most classes online this fall.