As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, it seems unlikely that Ontario universities' fall semester will take place as normal. However, post-secondary institutions are ensuring that they will be prepared for schools to still operate in September. According to a variety of universities and colleges, many are preparing for classes to begin online this fall. 

The latest updates from the province’s universities regarding the pandemic appear to suggest that most will be kicking off the 2020-2021 school year digitally.

Many post-secondary institutions are floating a combination of online and in-person learning as a means to establish some level of normalcy as the province prepares to gradually return to everyday life.

Narcity reached out to the University of Toronto who confirmed their plan to use both virtual and physical learning to offer their students flexibility. 

“The University is monitoring closely the advice of government and public health officials and will make plans based on their directives. We are confident that we will be able to offer students an outstanding university experience this fall,” the university said in an email. 

“We are planning for a combination of online and in-person options to ensure the greatest choice and flexibility possible,” it added.

However, they aren't the only ones that are looking into kicking off the fall semester with some online classes.

Carleton University has also stated that they don't believe classes will be fully operational by fall and that teachers should start preparing for online courses. 

“It is difficult to imagine a return to full international mobility, and complete lifting of physical distancing measures that would allow the return of large gatherings in confined spaces,” read a statement from Carleton University penned by President Benoit-Antoine Bacon.

“In these matters, we will carefully follow the guidelines of public health authorities and government regulations. As such, I would encourage deans and department heads to engage their units in discussions on how to best use digital technologies as alternatives to large classes,” he added.

Ryerson, George Brown and Queen's University have also stated that they are preparing to take their courses digitally this year. 

“I can assure you that our Fall term will take place. Regardless of the format of fall courses, be it online, in person, or a hybrid of the two," Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson president, said in a press release.

"We are currently modifying our on-campus activities to ensure your experience will continue to meet our high standards. In the fall, some classes and services may be delivered fully or partially through alternative delivery, for example," reads a statement from George Brown. 

It is worth noting that since these educational institutions are all independent from each other, they will all be developing their own approach to the fall term. So the way that students receive their fall education may look different between schools.

However, that does not mean there isn’t an overriding message of unity among them.

In a statement from the Presidents and Principals of Ontario’s Universities, it was revealed that Ontario universities are all planning on finding alternative ways to help deliver classes in the fall. 

“Ontario universities are planning for a fall term and are focused on finding ways to create an enriching university experience. While each institution will develop its own approach to the fall term, we are united by the common goal of delivering university programs that will support student success,” read the statement.

Currently, Ontario's emergency orders are in place until May 19.

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