Toronto universities, colleges suspend all on-campus classes amid COVID-19 pandemic

Post-secondary institutions across Toronto are cancelling all on-campus classes amid COVID-19 pandemic until further notice.

Until Friday, the schools had resisted shutting down classes, saying they would instead continue to monitor the spread of the virus and take advice from public health officials. Some students had voiced concerns on social media about whether that plan put them at risk.

Now, the schools are suspending in-person classes in favour of online courses. That change will happen in the next week.

Here’s what the various institutions are doing:

  • University of Toronto: All on-campus classes will be cancelled across all three campuses from March 16 until April 3, when classes end.
  • Ryerson University: Effective today, all classes and exams are being shifted to “virtual and other alternative forms of delivery.” Those changes will be in place by March 23, the school says.
  • York University: All “face to face” instruction ends on March 16.
  • Humber College: Classes will be suspended from March 16 to March 20 and then move online from March 23 to April 17 “wherever possible,” the school says. Administration has also cancelled all school-related international travel for students until June 30.
  • Seneca College: On-campus classes suspended as of March 16. Those classes will be moved online beginning March 23.
  • Sheridan College: Classes will be suspended from March 16 to March 20 to give staff time to move courses online or devise new modes of delivery to ensure students can maintain an appropriate social distance.
  • George Brown College: Classes will be suspended until March 22.

Ryerson University says classes and exams are being shifted to ‘virtual and other alternative forms of delivery,’ effective March 23. (David Donnelly/CBC)

At the University of Toronto, officials say many operations will continue even without students in class.

U of T’s president Meric Gertler said libraries, residences, food services, health and wellness centres and recreational facilities will remain open.

“The situation is now accelerating very rapidly,” Gertler said in a letter posted on the university’s website.

“One of the key factors in these decisions is the need to foster a degree of ‘social distancing,’ as recommended by public health authorities.”

‘Teaching online isn’t ideal’

Kerry Bowman, an assistant professor at U of T’s Faculty of Medicine, said teaching online isn’t ideal but he supports the university’s move.

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do because, I mean, we’re protected,” Bowman told CBC News.

“We’re doing this because most of the population is very young and very healthy but this is a way to protect other vulnerable people.”

Students pushed for change

Ryerson student Akanksha Dhingra was part of a petition with over 6,000 signatures calling for classes to be cancelled or moved online.

Ryerson announced by March 23 all classes and exams are being shifted to “virtual and other alternative forms of delivery.”

Dhingra, who lives with roommates just 20 minutes from campus, said she is happy with the school’s decision to keep students away from campus.

“[We] don’t even prefer to buy food from outside or get a coffee from Tims,” Dhingra said.

York University is also making changes, suspending all “face to face” instruction starting March 16.


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