university of toronto

University of Toronto under fire for lack of physical distancing in classrooms

University of Toronto is under fire from students and faculty who are concerned about a lack of physical distancing in classrooms.

In a tweet on Friday, the school welcomed back students and posted four photos showing noticeably distanced classroom settings.

Several faculty members and students responded in a thread of concern about the fact that the pictures did not resemble what classrooms at the school actually looked like.

Sally Race, an undergraduate student, says she works as a TA on the St. George campus in the lecture hall shown in the first photo.

Race calls the picture "misleading," saying that instead of one student sitting distanced at each table, there are now four students at each, filling all of the seats.

"Those socially-distanced stickers shown on the back of the chairs to separate students, aren't even there anymore " she said.

University of Toronto says the current provincial COVID-19 framework, under which it operates, "allows for flexible capacity limits and no requirement for physical distancing in indoor instructional spaces such as classrooms."

Terezia Zoric, the president of the faculty association at the university, feels it was unfair for someone to post pictures showing massive amount of space in classrooms when she's hearing about professors teaching classes over capacity numbers.

In August, Zoric wrote an open letter to the president of the university asking him to implement stronger physical distancing measures.

"Members are extremely concerned...the kind of [COVID-19] precautions that are in place at a movie theatre, aren't even available to them and their students," she told blogTO.

Matt Farish, another faculty member of the school tweeted about his own concerns related to capacity limits in classes.

Another student tweeted a screenshot of their timetable for an engineering course, which shows 394 spots filled out of the 400 person capacity limit of the class.

The University of Toronto points to the fact that in order to be on campus, you must be vaccinated, saying more than 50,000 members of its community have provided proof of vaccination. Of those, 94 per cent were fully vaccinated. 

"Individual academic units, in collaboration with their instructors and teaching staff, are determining what they do in-person... keeping in mind public health guidelines," said a spokesperson for the university.

As a student herself, Race says despite vaccination, the school's decision to not require distancing feels like a false sense of security.

"These rules have been put in place by our superiors, so we want to believe it's safe...but my fear is that these same rules may not end up keeping us safe," she said.

Lead photo by

U of T

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