Ryerson University is set to fully reopen by the end of February.
Some of the students at Ryerson University are not happy with the school's reopening plan for the next couple of months.
Following Premier Doug Ford's announcement that Ontario would be relaxing its COVID-19 restrictions by the end of the month, Jwalit Bharwani, a mechanical engineering student at the university, shared an open letter to the school on a student-run Facebook group.
In the letter, Bharwani expressed several concerns in response to Ryerson's reopening plan, which plans to see the university fully return to campus by February 28, two weeks before Ontario is slated to lift all indoor capacity limits.
One of them was that the school apparently did not consult students before making the decision to reopen.
"Am I to understand that Ryerson has a better understanding of this situation than the province? The same university that has said time and again they will only make decisions based on the province's reopening plan," he said in the letter.
At the time of this article's publication, a video announcement posted by Ryerson University's Instagram account on January 20 had comments turned off.
"Given the continued assurance from public health authorities that the spread of this variant will begin to abate in the coming weeks, the university will begin a gradual return to campus on January 31, with a full return expected by February 28, 2022," Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi said in an announcement to students.
Bharwani noted, however, that the province would be starting to reopen establishments where Ontarians have the choice to visit, while students are often required to go to class.
"The reopening of the province is on activities of choice - restaurants, gyms, sporting events are all things people choose to go to when they re-open. Students don’t have a choice, they never got the choice - us students were never consulted before the decision of reopening the university," he said.
Even though there are proof of vaccination requirements at the school, Bharwani expressed that since Ryerson is a commuter school, students are at risk of exposure whenever they take public transportation to get to class. Especially since there are no vaccine mandates for passengers.
"Students who commute to school all take public transportation - vaccination certificates apply to class but not to commute. TTC has always been crowded," he noted.
Bharwani pointed out that students don't have the "luxury" of having comfortable spaces to relax between classes.
"Faculty members have to understand that between classes, to classes and back from classes, they have the luxury of personal offices and cars, us students don’t. We have to sit, eat, study, spend time and travel in public, which is increasing difficulty for us," he said.
In the announcement, Lachemi said that the return to in-person learning will depend on the program and faculty and that updates on what this will look like will be given to students within the coming days.
Over the course of the pandemic, students have been vocal about keeping classes online. A petition started two months ago to give Ryerson students the option to continue learning remotely already has over 9,000 signatures, while a petition from two years ago with 17,000 signatures called on the school to switch to online courses.