University of Toronto releases plan for students to return to classes

U of T students will be returning to school in September as usual, but the layout of the school year will be much different than it was before the pandemic.
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

University of Toronto students will be returning to school in September as usual, but the layout of the school year will be much different than it was before the pandemic, according to BlogTO.

Meric Gertler, the U of T president announced that there will be new measures and policies put into place for students in the coming fall semester to ensure "a world-class academic experience" while "respecting public health measures required by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic."

"The University of Toronto's fall semester will emphasize a mix of in-person and virtual learning opportunities for students," said the school in a post released on May 19.

"New and returning students can expect to see smaller on-campus seminars, classes and labs alongside larger online or remote classes and lectures," the post says. "Courses are being designed to be flexible and accommodating, making use of the latest technologies and approaches to instruction."

Gertler released the information in a letter last week saying “much still remains uncertain” when it comes to what the school year will look like in September. Much will depend on the state of the government’s reopening plan in the coming months.

Three “guiding principles” have been laid out by the university that it will use develop plans for its three campuses.

The first principal is "Health and Safety" and Gertler notes that the university "is preparing for a gradual, safe?return to our campuses, with as much on-campus activity as is practicable, sensible, and safe."

There are still guidelines being developed for laboratories, research areas, residences, environmental health and safety, libraries and athletics, student experience and more.

The second principal laid out is "Academic Excellence" in which deans, principals and faculty members are working at "devising courses that are flexible and adaptable, accommodating — and mobilizing — various modes of teaching and learning."

"The result will be a rich set of academic experiences for students to explore, whether they attend on-campus, virtually or in some combination," wrote Gertler. "On-campus laboratory and library spaces will be adapted to the requirements of physical distancing, while we continue to leverage the power and possibilities of virtual research and instructional settings where helpful or necessary."

Susan McCahan is the U of T Vice-Provost and she said in a news release on Tuesday that over 100 staff members are working with leading educational technology to design and develop courses.

The third guiding principle is "Our Community" which focuses on helping students with the tough situations they may be facing.

"As we look toward the fall, we know the recovery will take time, resolve, patience and resilience," Gertler wrote.

"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."

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