Memo re: Return to Campus

From: Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice President Human Resources & Equity
Heather Boon, Vice-Provost, Faculty &Academic Life
Date: July 27, 2020
Re: Memo re: Return to Campus

The University of Toronto continues to give the health and safety of its faculty, librarians, staff, students, and our community its highest priority amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We also remain committed to ongoing consultation and discussion with the leadership of U of T unions and UTFA.

We are planning for the gradual return of some members of our community to our three campuses in September in accordance with Provincial guidelines. They will join the small group of employees and researchers who continued to work on campus safely and effectively throughout the pandemic.  The amount of on campus activity will be minimized in order to support public health efforts to reduce community transmission.  This approach will also support our community by lessening the strain on public transit.

Like most of our peer institutions across Canada, we decided in June that about 90 percent of our Fall 2020 classes would have an online option, and that most faculty, staff and librarians will continue to do the vast majority of their work at home in the Fall as they have since March.

Individuals who come to campus will be protected by our new safety measures which follow best practices in occupational health and safety and are similar to those in the broader community (e.g., in banks, stores, daycare centres, museums).  These include limits on gatherings, floor signage, stickers and directional arrows to facilitate physical distancing, hand sanitization stations, enhanced cleaning, clear plexiglass barriers in some work areas, and the requirement that masks be worn in all common spaces including classrooms.  Many of these measures were outlined in a recent U of T news story: everyone-safe-campus-fall

The number of people in any given space on our campuses will not exceed government limits on gatherings. We will be relying on all faculty, librarians, staff and students to comply with our safety measures including physical distancing, good hand hygiene, wearing masks and keeping their personal workspaces clutter-free.

Some elements of our teaching will be delivered by instructors who have opted to teach in person for pedagogical or practical reasons. Any in person courses will be delivered in small section sizes in classroom spaces or laboratories that have been specifically set up to support physical distancing in accordance with public health guidelines. For example, 20 undergraduate students may be engaged in an in-person workshop in a classroom designed with a capacity limit for 120 individuals. All classrooms and office spaces have ventilation systems that meet or exceed public health guidelines. Instructors and TAs were able to choose if they wanted to teach these small sections in person in the Fall and we will continue to meet our obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code to accommodate the needs of all our employees.

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including all our guidance documents, continues to evolve as the science and public health guidelines evolve. As the province defines the Stages of reopening for each region, our plans will adapt accordingly.

We are continuing to work with Chairs, Deans, CAOs and managers to ensure that every workplace on campus will be compliant with specific regulations governing the different work environments at the University (e.g. food services, residences, classrooms, and office spaces). Our General Workplace Guidelines have been widely shared with CAOs and managers and contain consistent information and direction on how to adapt various workplaces and classrooms to ensure compliance with the relevant public health regulations.  Joint Health and Safety Committees will be engaged in the local implementation of the General Workplace Guidelines and related safety protocols. As we respond and adapt to a world with COVID-19, we continue to welcome input and ongoing consultation with all members of our community, including faculty, librarians, unions, staff, and students.