Universities in Canada are preparing to start the fall semester with online classes
Universities in Canada will still run classes this fall, but students may not want to pack their bags just yet.
According to the latest updates from universities across Canada, many post-secondary institutions are looking at offering at least some of their classes online this September.
And while Canada is officially flattening the curve, experts are already gearing up for a second wave of the virus in the fall, which could delay in-person instruction until January 2021.
Health authorities say it is 'critically important' to maintain coronavirus control measures until control over the spread during the first wave is achieved. They also say some measures may have to be re-introduced or implemented in any subsequent waves. pic.twitter.com/520FerKECk— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) April 28, 2020
Ontario's universities, for example, are "exploring a range of delivery options depending on the trajectory of COVID-19" according to ministry spokesperson Ciara Byrne, per the Toronto Star.
And it seems that range of options includes virtual classes, according to a recent email sent by the University of Toronto to prospective students.
"We are working closely with public health authorities to determine when and how to facilitate a safe return to classrooms this fall," the email says.
"Some classes may be delivered fully or partially through remote instruction."
A message from the Presidents of @OntUniv about the fall term: “We want to reassure you that Ontario’s universities remain committed to providing high-quality education for our students.” #OntarioSpirit #ONpoli— University of Toronto (@UofT) April 28, 2020
Read more: https://t.co/9Ar4CUlUGv pic.twitter.com/dzv0IenMLy
The University of Alberta is similarly gearing up for the possibility of online classes.
The post-secondary institution has even established a Fall 2020 Planning Group, who have developed three scenarios in anticipation of the September semester.
The university's most optimistic scenario involves limited in-person classes and international students being allowed in Canada; the most cynical scenario involves no in-person instruction and international borders remaining closed.
"In view of its extreme unlikelihood, a scenario imagining a full return to all normal university operations by September will receive only limited consideration by sub-committees," the university said.
What will September look like at #UAlberta? https://t.co/QwdNnWcDzr pic.twitter.com/spRHhDIN1R— University of Alberta (@UAlberta) April 23, 2020
Queen's University has also put together a task force of staff, faculty and students to address the fall semester.
"It is certainly our hope that students will be on campus, but we are preparing for the possibility of remote delivery should physical distancing still be required and significant concentrations of people be prohibited," the university said.
"Whether such restrictions will be less or more severe is impossible to say at present."
With September rapidly approaching, many Canadian parents and students are eager to learn whether in-person classes will actually take place in the fall.
As a parent of a Rotman student, I’m hoping to learn more about plans for university in September in regard to in-person or online learning. We are a 15 hour drive from Toronto and there are decisions like signing a 12 month lease.— Tricia Littlefield (@TheSimpleWeb) April 27, 2020
Unfortunately, many Canadian universities seem reluctant to give an official date that students can expect a decision.
However, Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario told the Toronto Star that college tuition deposits for the fall are due June 15 and "we need to be in a position to tell students what this is going to look like in the fall."
Dalhousie University similarly said that they should have an "update" on the fall semester for students by June.
An update to the #DalhousieU community from @DalPres about the road ahead during #COVID19: https://t.co/smBFgMaEyX pic.twitter.com/B3fS7y0fDV— Dalhousie University (@DalhousieU) April 27, 2020
Canadian universities are also bracing themselves for a potential budget crunch this fall as the future of international students — a multibillion-dollar enterprise — hangs in the balance.
"It's a major concern for Canada's universities from coast to coast," said Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, per the Globe and Mail. "The risks they're facing are real."
Hopefully, Canadian universities will be able to provide students with a more comprehensive update in the next few weeks.
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