Fall 2021 Plans

From: Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President & Provost  
Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity
Scott Mabury, Vice-President, University Operations 
Date:  March 4, 2021    
Re:  Fall 2021 Plans  

The past year has been challenging for members of our community, as it has been for people around the world. At the University of Toronto, staff, students, faculty and librarians have risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19. You have adapted to evolving public health conditions, and demonstrated creativity in advancing our academic mission, all while supporting our community and society.  

We are looking forward, with optimism, to fall 2021 when people can once more gather on our campusesas permitted by public health guidelines.   

  1. In-Person Instruction and Supports for Our Students 

We know that one key aspect of a U of T education – a large part of what makes it great – is the in-person environment of our three campuses, full of formal and informal learning experiences in which faculty and students co-create knowledge. By September, we aim to support faculty, librarians and staff to return to campus in order to collaborate with colleagues and interact with students while preserving some of the best innovations of the past year in terms of technology and flexible work arrangements.  

The vast range of academic programs across the University necessitates local planning, taking into account different learning outcomes and requirements in the various Faculties and departments. We encourage everyone to continue planning towards this goal of in-person fall activities, knowing we can return to existing practices should they be required. The Academic Continuity Working Group has been working closely with each Faculty and is available to support all of you in your plans. 

  1. Research and Libraries 

Turning to research, we are pleased to report that on-campus research is continuing with measures in place to follow public health guidance. Most human participant research has moved to on-line methodologies. For the few studies that require face-to-face interaction with participants, the University has developed responsible ways to continue eligible research while strictly adhering to public health guidelines and ensuring the safety of all involved. There are plans to resume Research Ethics Board reviews of face-to-face in-person research, with new procedures coming in the next few weeks. 

The U of T Libraries continue providing essential resources within the regulations set out by the Government of Ontario and have been active in planning for increased in-person services, including a return to Inter-Library Loan, and in-person appointments to use the Fisher Rare Book Library, Map & Data Library, and other archives essential for research. The libraries will expand these services and access to all library resources when provincial guidelines permit. 

  1. Ensuring Health & Safety and Supporting our Community 

The pandemic has introduced a variety of public health measures that have shaped our lives over the past year, including social distancing, wearing masks, and restrictions on international travel. The University of Toronto has put a number of new protocols in place to prepare for a gradual, safe return to our campuses. Our campuses have adapted as a result – with new signage, physical barriers, increased cleaningupgraded ventilation, and more. U of T is proud to be hosting a vaccine clinic at UTM, with planning underway for clinics on the other two campuses that will serve the needs of the broader community. We also have supported more than 2,000 students who safely completed a quarantine program for international students that is an exemplar for other universities across the country. 

We know that many of our students are struggling at this time. Student advising, mental health services, and co-curricular programs are widely available online. While there are currently   limited in-person services, in-person opportunities will be increased as soon as permitted. The U of T My Student Support Program (MySSP) provides students with 24-hour support in multiple languages while a new website contains more information on student mental health services. Information about employee wellness, including the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP), is also available for faculty, librarians, and staff. 

We are looking forward to returning to in-person learning and on-campus activity this fall, and to the vibrant student experience and research activity that make U of T unique. You can continue to find information about the University’s COVID-19 response at UTogether: A Road Map. During this critical planning period, we will continue to update you as quickly and as frequently as possible on the impact of government and public health measures.  

Thank you all for your continued leadership. We are looking forward to seeing the outcome of your fall planning and are ready to support you as we work towards increased in-person activity by September.