As the University of Toronto community approaches greater than 99 per cent vaccination coverage against COVID-19, I wanted to confirm good news about winter 2022: UTM will offer the majority of courses in-person. We will post updated delivery methods for winter courses on ACORN and the academic timetable early next week.
Our plan for winter 2022 fulfills President Gertler’s goal from the spring, which prepared our community for more in-person experiences ahead. It echoes my messages from the summer, which encouraged students to come to campus and to anticipate significantly more in-person courses on the winter timetable. Thirty per cent of our fall courses currently have at least one in-person component; about 85 per cent of our winter classes will do the same.
We’ll also continue to adapt. U of T is firstly an in-person post-secondary institution. We have a formal responsibility to offer most of our courses on campus; any permanent changes to move classes online after the pandemic will require governance approval. But we’ve seen significant benefits from virtual learning, especially over the past eighteen months and we’ll continue to explore ways to expand online options over the long term.
Meanwhile, in winter 2022, we’ll welcome more of our employees back to campus, formalizing flexible work for staff through the alternative work arrangements process. We’ll hold more in-person physical activities, social events and co-curricular student programs, with some specific services offered online. And we’ll continue enabling academic research labs to operate at full capacity.
Our plan for winter 2022 has full support from Peel Public Health, which emphasizes the safety of in-person activity alongside key measures. At UTM, that means our mask policy, vaccine requirement, UCheck health screening system and strategy on ventilation will remain in effect into winter 2022. We’ll continue to work closely with Peel Public Health and other experts: we’re ready to adapt as the science develops and to build on our community-leading success in limiting cases on campus and in our region.
I think back to March 2020, and I’m struck by how little we knew about what was ahead, and how much we’ve all gone through since then. It hasn’t been easy, and there are still challenges. But I continue to see your determination, generosity and openness every day. Thank you for your resilience and your care for one another: I feel grateful to work among this brilliant community.
And I look forward to seeing you on campus in January, if not even sooner.
Vice-President & Principal
University of Toronto Mississauga