What Toronto’s schools will look like this fall

Here's what to expect in terms of online classes, residence life and reimbursements from the city's post-secondary schools


There’s still lots of uncertainty about what September will bring at the city’s colleges and universities. So we decided to break down what students can expect when Toronto post-secondary schools resume this fall. All information is readily available on the schools’ websites.

Will there be in-person instruction?

Some classes will be totally virtual this fall in Toronto schools. But some classes need in-person interaction.

Centennial College: “It is too early to confirm the expected return to in-class/lab instruction for the winter. This will depend on the status of the pandemic and corresponding guidelines provided by public health.” Courses where “hybrid” instruction will take place include: Advanced Television and Film, Broadcasting – Radio, Television, Film and Digital Media, Children’s Media, Dance Performance, Music Industry Arts and Performance, Nursing and Esthetician studies.

George Brown College: “Full-time programs starting and continuing in September 2020 will take place predominantly through alternative and remote format. Student services, supports and social efforts will be there for you too, with the same energy but a different delivery.”   

Humber College: “Sixty per cent of our programs will be offered entirely online, with the remainder having both online and in-person components. All electives will be delivered online.”

OCAD University: “The University is preparing for some in-person learning opportunities, which could include smaller studio workshops or classes,” said OCAD U in a press release in late May. It’s also including courses about COVID-19 on the curriculum.

Ryerson University: “The majority of our fall term will be offered virtually, with as many on campus activities as provincial and public health guidelines permit, along with an array of online extra-curricular programming and academic supports.”

Sheridan College: “Many of our programs will continue to be offered in alternate formats during the fall semester. Face-to-face learning will be reserved for those courses where experiential hands-on learning is required.”

University of Toronto: “Students have the option of studying online in about 90 per cent of undergraduate courses and, in fact, most of these courses will be offered online only,” says Vivek Goel, a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and chair of the university’s Response and Adaptation Committee. “Those courses that do have an in-person element, such as some teaching labs, will follow strict safety and public health guidelines.”

York University: “The university [has] decided to offer a full selection of academic programming using primarily online/remote learning, with select in-person instruction,” said a release from York back in May. “We believe that it will also be possible to offer select experiential activities that are not easily adaptable to a remote delivery format such as labs, studios, and clinical placements, in-person.”

Living in residence

Finding accommodation in Toronto is tough enough without being a full-time student. Many schools are still offering places to stay this fallwith increased safety measures.

George Brown: “We intend to reduce capacity by 50 per cent so that students will not have a roommate for the fall term, and to stagger our move-in dates/times. The measures we’ve taken to protect summer 2020 students include cancelling all in-person residence life programming, reallocating housekeeping staff from occupied student suites to focus on high-traffic common areas, suspending guest sign-in to limit the number of people entering the building, increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations, installing barriers at the front desk, and moving to contactless package/mail pickup.”

Ryerson: “We continue to follow public health and governmental directives in providing residence spaces that follow the required social distancing and health and safety guidelines. Our priority is to continue to provide residence.”

Sheridan: “The residence will be prioritizing the first-year guaranteed acceptance students along with those who will be having face-to-face classes on campus.”

U of T: “We’re reducing our capacity so that we can assign single rooms to all incoming students for at least the first semester. Requests from siblings and close friends who wish to share a double room will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”

York: “To ensure proper physical distancing, residence capacity has been reduced and only single occupancy rooms will be offered for the 2020-2021 academic year. Students who receive a room assignment will also receive a designated bathroom facility to use. Other physical distancing guidelines, such as limited elevator and common area capacities, will continue to be enforced.” 

Discounts/reimbursements

Many students have complained why they should be paying fees for services they won’t be using this year. So Toronto schools have taken that into account this fall.

Humber: “Humber has undertaken a full assessment of compulsory ancillary fees for the fall 2020 term. For the fall 2020 Term only, students will not be charged for the following items: Athletics & Recreation; Student Buildings; Student Records; Campus Safety; Student Government and Enhanced Student Experience. Total reduction in fees for fall 2020 term: $139.36.

Sheridan: “If you do not feel satisfied with the quality of your education during the fall 2020 semester, you will be able to withdraw without academic penalty and receive a full refund, including the deposit, until October 9.” Also: “Sheridan and the Sheridan Student Union will make adjustments to several ancillary fees for fall 2020 in light of the changes in access to facilities and delivery services.” 

U of T: “Student service fees (including fees for Student Life, Hart House and athletics & recreation) have been reduced.  The services offered at each campus and the incidental fees charged vary by campus.”

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