Following U of T’s announcement regarding its intention to increase in-person learning from February 7 on, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) and the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) have launched an email campaign advocating for a safe return to campus. 

Emails will be sent to U of T administration and members of provincial parliament in an effort to bring attention to the concerns that students have raised about returning to in-person learning. The campaign has set a goal of sending 700 emails from students and has reached over 550 emails so far.

The draft email provided by the unions lists various requests meant for both university administrators and government officials. The demands directed toward government officials include implementing a two-metre distancing order and capacity limits across campuses, providing free N95 masks to community members, and creating a more robust contact tracing system. Requests for university administrators include “committing to stable learning conditions through option of online learning and other academic supports like expanded [credit/no credit] policies” and the implementation of an ancillary fee rebate to students who “continue to be impacted by the inconsistency of learning modality.”

In an email to The Varsity, UTMSU President Mitra Yakubi shared the union’s efforts to “ensure that no student was left behind.” She wrote, “With each semester and wave of the pandemic, we brought forward the need for technological support so that faculty can record lectures [and] advocated for online classes and in-person classes with social distancing and capacity limits.” 

With respect to the email campaign launched in conjunction with the SCSU, Yakubi explained that the campaign will target the university administration and provincial government as “they all play different roles in ensuring a safe transition to in-person learning.”

In addition to the concerns raised by student unions, there have been a number of petitions created by students echoing similar concerns. These petitions request that the university either provide the option for students to continue their studies online for the rest of the semester or forgo the shift to in-person classes altogether. 

One petition created by a UTSC student, titled “Give UTSC (UofT Scarborough) Students the Option to Continue Online,” has reached over 1,300 signatures. “The number of cases are still piling up and being that active at campus puts us all at risk,” the petition reads.

Another petition, titled “To Shift UofT Second Semester Online or Hybrid,” has reached over 2,700 signatures. This petition calls for UTSG to offer options for students to attend classes online.