Dear A&S Students, Staff, and Faculty,
On April 21, I wrote to you committing to monthly updates on our planning for the fall and our transition back to in-person learning. I am pleased to report that since my last message there have been several positive developments in support of our planned return to the campus and the classroom. These developments include:
- Vaccinations: Currently, 65% of eligible Ontarians have received the first dose, according to the public vaccination tracking website developed by researchers at U of T. Last week, the Province of Ontario also announced that COVID-19 vaccine booking has expanded to Ontarians 12+ ahead of schedule.
- Advice from Public Health Experts: I have been consulting with infectious disease epidemiologist Professor Ashleigh Tuite of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who says she is optimistic that things are moving in the right direction for us to return to the campus this fall. “Cases and hospitalizations appear to be trending downward which is what we want to see continue, along with a steady pace of vaccinations,” says Professor Tuite. “We need to continue to encourage everyone who is eligible to get their vaccine. The more our population is vaccinated, the sooner restrictions will lift, and we can return to gatherings and other aspects of everyday life.”
- U of T Planning Process: The University is closely monitoring the Government of Ontario’s plans for safely re-opening our province. In response, efforts are underway across our three campuses to prepare for the arrival of new and returning students, including preparation of residences and programs to assist students arriving from outside of Canada. For the safety of everyone at U of T, ventilation systems are being upgraded and other measures currently in place will continue to adapt as needed as conditions change. Below I am including some key links with updates on some of the University-wide preparations for fall.
Here in Arts & Science, the Office of the Faculty Registrar has been working with academic units on course planning and the list of 2021–22 undergraduate course offerings is now available on the A&S website to assist students and advisors in preparation for enrolment in July (The full Fall/Winter Timetable will be posted at the end of June). As our goal is to resume in-person learning, most courses are scheduled to take place in person and students should be planning to be on campus this fall. However, because we do not yet know whether physical-distancing or indoor-capacity limits will be in effect on September 9 (the first day of our academic term), it is too early to determine whether some courses currently scheduled to take place in person may need to begin online and transition to in person during the Fall Term. As promised, I will provide another update in June when we should have more information to assist you with your planning.
Please continue to check our UTogether at A&S website for more information, including the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that are regularly updated for undergraduate students. You can also find general information about the University’s plans on the main UTogether website.
And I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We can each do our part to protect ourselves, our friends and loved ones, and pave the way to be back together again soon.
While we still do not know exactly what September will look like, with each passing day I am more hopeful that we will be back on our beautiful campus this fall. Until my next update, take good care.
Melanie A. Woodin
Dean, Faculty of Arts & Science
Professor, Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto