Some York University students don't want to return to in-person classes in 2022
Since lockdowns started back in March 2020, students moved to online classes, but now that life is somewhat returning to normal, Toronto universities are slowly moving back to in-person classes.
But some students at York University aren't ready to go back quite yet.
A petition, which has more than 5,000 signatures, is urging York to reconsider moving back on campus learning only in January 2022.
They say York University will have a majority of classes in-person with no option for online study.
"This means that most courses which began online, will be required to resume in person," the petition reads. "Students do not have a say as to whether they'd like to continue online or not."
York University provided a statement on the issue, saying the most recent update on the winter term was issued on Oct. 19, and it gave some details on additional winter term planning.
"It's also important to note that plans for all courses are posted in the notes when students go to register," the statement reads.
"The health and safety of our community remains York University's highest priority, as we continue to build a community of care to protect our students, staff, faculty, instructors, and researchers from COVID-19."
The university said they have done extensive planning and gradually increased in-person courses from around 5 per cent in the summer term to 33 per cent in the fall term with an expectation of increasing in-person instruction to approximately 85 per cent of our courses in the winter term.
"Our plans are always informed by the current status of the pandemic and the University regularly consults within the community to put in place the supports that are necessary to safely deliver in-person instruction," they said.
With safety protocols, along with forecasts from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table and improving vaccination rates, York plans to shift to in-person learning closer to pre-pandemic norms.
"We will continue to abide by public health guidelines as the University reopens and shifts to primarily in-person instruction for the winter term," they said.
They added that there will be a small amount of flexibility for continued remote learning this winter. Many programs will continue to offer online courses or components (as they did prior to the start of the pandemic), to accommodate the diverse needs of students and to enrich the student learning experience, they said.
The petition, started by York University students, explains that many students around the world have started York programs. International students went back home to be with their families and may not be able to return back to the university.
"[Those students] are now faced with the problem that York University will be expecting their in person presence in 2022."
In many cases, York does not provide online classes so there won't be an alternative for those students, the petition states.
"This loss of choice is a rapidly growing issue, requiring students to go back in person is a problem for many as so there is a large uncertainty with current students schedules," the petition reads.
The students call the switch to in-person "sudden", forcing students to rapidly change plans.
There are also concerns about safety and the new policy not taking into account those who are immune compromised and uncomfortable with going back in person.
"Reducing exposure has been the main concern during this entire pandemic, so let’s keep it that way," the students say.
This post was updated on Nov. 19 with a statement from York University.
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