It's only a few months until students could be back in class, and the University of Toronto’s fall safety plan has been released. The framework, which came out July 23, includes mandatory masks, hand sanitizer stations, and even plastic-wrapped desks to keep students apart. The measures are meant to create a "safe, gradual return to campus life."
Shrink-wrapped desks and chairs will tell students where they can and can’t sit during lectures.
Meanwhile, government limits will still mandate how many students can be in a classroom at once, so those class sizes are likely to look significantly smaller this fall!
Tammy Cook, executive director of facilities management and planning at U of T's Mississauga campus (UTM), brought up the question on all of our minds in the University’s press release.
“When you have a room that usually seats 500, how do you get students to stay in the spaces they’re supposed to stay in? It can get confusing,” Cook said.
She added that staff mocked up several classrooms to see how the shrink-wrap or taping approach would work. It turns out it works pretty great, they say.
A photo attached to the press release showed half of the desks in a UTM classroom covered in what looks like saran wrap.
The university explained that small classes will be taught in the largest classrooms, to support distancing. So no more sitting next to your best friend!
How #UofT plans to keep everyone safe on campus this fall: https://t.co/joXH1xYNA9— University of Toronto (@University of Toronto)1595555839.0
Assistant Professor Erin Styles told the university that students are keen to get back on campus and have more in-person connections, but public opinion has been split.
On July 22, Premier Doug Ford suggested that outdoor school classes might be a better option for students returning in the fall.
While this was discussing elementary and secondary education, U of T didn’t mention this as a possible protocol.
Many students have called for classes to remain online, so it will be interesting to see the response of those same students come this fall if they are expected to return to campus.
If they do come back, they can definitely expect things to look different compared to last year’s classes, even beyond the plastic-wrapped chairs.
Masks will be made mandatory, sanitizing stations will be implemented widely, and students will have to sit apart from one another.