U of T cancels in-person exams and classes as COVID-19 cases spike across Ontario
U of T has joined a growing list of educational institutions putting in-person learning and exams on pause as the highly-transmissible Omicron variant rips through Ontario.
"The University of Toronto will not be holding in-person exams effective Dec. 16 and will delay most in-person learning until Jan. 31 to help curb the spread of COVID-19 amid the emergence of the Omicron variant," reads an announcement from the school published Wednesday evening.
"Online exams will proceed as scheduled and some in-person exams may move to online delivery. Individual divisions will be in contact with students and instructors to confirm arrangements."
Plans for the upcoming winter semester have also changed at U of T:
While most classes will resume virtually on Monday, Jan. 10, in-person learning for all courses, graduate and undergraduate, will be delayed until at least Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.
Some select programs will resume in-person classes as planned at U of T's Toronto and Mississauga campuses, including the instruction of specific health sciences courses and in-person practica.
Individual divisions and departments will be reaching out to students and instructors to confirm arrangements in the coming days, according to U of T.
The university is also requiring all employees in "roles that do not provide essential or front-line services" to work remotely until at least Jan. 31, 2022.
"We are taking these steps to protect the health and safety of our community, which is always our top priority," said U of T President Meric Gertler in Wednesday night's announcement.
"We are listening to our students, staff, faculty and librarians, and acting out of an abundance of caution as we confront this latest phase of the pandemic."
Some students aren't happy about the timing, noting that people who've already taken their exams in person may score differently than those who must take the tests online. A change.org petition calling upon U of T to cancel virtual exams has about 225 signatures so far.
UofT now delays in person teaching until end of January . pic.twitter.com/Mf8kigkc6u— Mathew Wells (@EFD_Toronto) December 15, 2021
Administrators at all of the above schools are stressing the importance of vaccinations in helping normal life resume.
"Vaccinations are our best defence against COVID and there was an outstanding response to the Vaccine Policy with over 99 per cent of faculty, 97 per cent of students, and 98 per cent of staff now fully vaccinated," wrote McMaster in an update on Tuesday.
"As your opportunity for a booster shot arises, we encourage you to sign up to continue to protect yourself, family, friends, colleagues, and students at the University."
"We know how important in-person teaching and learning is for community members, and we look forward to welcoming them back on campus in the new year," said Gertler in her statement similarly.
"In the meantime, we encourage everyone to get their shot and do their part to slow the spread of this new variant."
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