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How plans to offer courses online, in-person vary across campuses, faculties

U of T will not take a universal approach to reopening
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ISABELLA CESARI/THE VARSITY
ISABELLA CESARI/THE VARSITY

Going into the 2020–2021 school year, University of Toronto does not have a uniform policy mandating in-person or online learning for its faculties. Instead, U of T is split into different academic units, which encompass its faculties and divisions, and policies vary across them. While a few faculties are incorporating in-person learning, the majority are shifting to predominantly online courses. 

“Different academic divisions and departments are working toward solutions specific to their programs in terms of how best to deliver courses,” noted a university webpage updated on August 14. 

However, this hybrid mix of online and in-person learning in the fall and winter semesters has been heavily criticized, and course delivery methods have been changed several times. Many courses in the Faculty of Arts & Science have changed from in-person instruction to online delivery at the instructor’s request.

The Varsity has broken down the current COVID-19 plans across U of T.

UTSC

The majority of UTSC classes will take place online, and students will have a remote option for all coursework in the fall semester. In an email to The Varsity, a UTSC spokesperson wrote that any student who chooses an online course in September will be able to complete it remotely, and for first-year students, this guarantee extends to the winter term as well. 

The UTSC spokesperson added that “our commitment includes a guaranteed pathway to graduation for those eligible to graduate next June, even if required courses or course elements cannot be offered this coming year.” 

The UTSC library will be open with limited access to study space, while the stacks will remain closed with a retrieval process available. Other library services will be available online to the UTSC community. 

UTM

For UTM students, the campus noted on a webpage that “almost every course will allow [students] to study online if that is what you prefer, or must do for travel or medical reasons.”

Faculty of Arts & Science

The Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS) announced a hybrid of in-person and online classes, with an FAS webpage noting that “Some programs require applied, practical, or other placement-based activities that must be delivered in person.” However, it also pledged that students who will be away from campus in fall and need an in-person only course for their degree will “have a pathway.”

School of Continuing Studies

At the School of Continuing Studies, which offers non-credit courses to adults taught by contract instructors, 11 of 591 course sections will be in-person for the fall, set to begin in late October. Four of these do not have an alternative online section.

Faculty of Information 

In an email to The Varsity, a Faculty of Information spokesperson wrote that the faculty has decided to offer all courses online, and the electives that require in-person participation may be shifted to another term.

Faculty of Architecture

Students at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design (FALD) will take fall courses and studios entirely online. The FALD also plans to reopen its building, though access will be limited. “Students will be able to access the building in small numbers, and only for coursework-related reasons,” wrote FALD spokesperson Steve Kupferman to The Varsity. 

OISE

Dean Glen Jones of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) wrote to The Varsity: “With one exception, all OISE classes will take place on-line and we do not expect any in-class activities. All extra-curricular activities are currently being planned to take-place on-line.”

Engineering

The Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering announced a “remote access guarantee” on June 9, “which will allow every one of our students to complete all academic requirements remotely, including final exams” for the fall 2020 term. In an email to The Varsity, Thomas Coyle, Vice-Dean Undergraduate of the faculty wrote that all online synchronous lectures will be recorded. 

Representatives from EngSoc have been consulted by the faculty while planning the course of action, and Engineering Society (EngSoc) President Christopher Kousinioris told The Varsity that the four months of mostly remote learning in the fall will provide valuable insights into the logistics of such a model, if required in the future.

Law

Students at the Faculty of Law will have a hybrid system with the option of remote learning for the fall.

Music

Music students at U of T will receive a hybrid delivery system, with courses delivered partially online and partially through “appropriate-sized” in-person groups. On July 24, Dean Don McLean of the Faculty of Music noted that the faculty is continuing to “prepare timetable and space allocations for the fall semester.”

Nursing

The Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing noted on its webpage that some courses may be partially or fully online and clinical “placement may continue to be restricted or delayed,” with possible changes to scheduling and delivery format.

Medicine and dentistry

Medical and dentistry students have resumed clinical placements this summer at their respective faculties. Faculty of Dentistry Dean Daniel Haas noted in an August 6 letter that, within the Doctor of Dental Surgery program, all “didactic lectures and seminars will be delivered online” for the fall semester. A spokesperson from the Faculty of Medicine wrote that the faculty is “following public health guidelines around physical distancing and proper hygiene for any on-campus activities, as well as providing online learning, where appropriate.”

Other faculties

As of now, Rotman School of Management, the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, and the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy have guaranteed a remote option for all fall courses.

Disclosure: Adam A. Lam previously served as The Varsity’s Volume 140 Science Editor.