In an effort to address the spread of COVID-19, the University of Toronto announced today that it will no longer be requiring doctor’s notes or medical certificates from students who miss class due to cold or flu-like symptoms, or due to self-isolation.

The news comes in an effort to encourage students to stay at home if they are feeling unwell. This is the first change in policy that U of T has taken in response to COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization today.

COVID-19 is a newly identified strain of the existing family of viruses called coronavirus, which likely originates from animals and typically causes respiratory illness in humans.

Students will be required to document their absences online through ACORN. The university will then “use this information to provide academic accommodation and to monitor overall absences.”

This measure does not apply to absences due to other illnesses, which must continue to be documented through the Verification of Illness form. However, it is unclear how the university will enforce this difference in measures.

U of T administration is currently developing plans in response to COVID-19, which has included the establishment of a working group to tackle the issue. The Varsity previously reported that response plans will be developed within faculties and campuses, meaning that there will be no one plan for the university as a whole.

The change also comes as U of T is facing growing calls from the community to address the spread of the illness.

The Varsity has reached out to U of T Media Relations for comment.