COVID-19 - President’s Update on the Fall Term

Dear York Community,

With our summer term now underway, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the York community for their continued commitment and dedication in providing the best possible learning experience for our students, as we manage our way through these unprecedented and challenging times. I am pleased to confirm that the efforts to meet our students’ needs have resulted in a strong summer enrolment, which is good news, and a testament to our collective efforts. Plans are also currently underway to safely re-establish access to our research labs and facilities this summer. A detailed plan which includes a gradual and phased schedule of research lab re-openings will be announced by the Vice-President Research & Innovation in the coming days.

Preparing to welcome our students to the Fall Term
Many of you have now started to inquire about our plans for the Fall term and I am happy to share an update about what you can expect from the University in the coming weeks and months. After consulting with the government and public health authorities, as well as Senate Executive, we have determined that our Fall term will be delivered for the most part online and remotely.

We are committed to ensuring students are able to access the courses they need to progress in their programs, so I am pleased to share with our broader community that York University will be offering our full selection of academic programming this Fall. Because of advance planning on the part of our community, we will maintain the same high-quality learning experience for which York is known, due to the work of course directors to develop innovative ways to enhance online instruction including adding virtual experiential activities and opportunities for students to engage with each other online.

We believe that it will also be possible to offer select experiential activities that are not easily adaptable to a remote delivery format such as labs, studios, and clinical placements, in-person. The safety of our community members remains our top priority, and we will continue to work closely with the government and public health authorities to ensure that we are adhering to whatever guidelines are established for any potential on-campus activities. As we appreciate that some students may not be available to attend campuses in the Fall, students will be informed in advance of the start of the course if there are any required in-person components, and what flexibility they will have to fulfill those requirements over the term. Some students may prefer to delay such courses until a subsequent term.

Realizing Full Campus Operations
Our students, faculty, and staff continue to show exceptional flexibility and resilience during this unprecedented time. We have already demonstrated our capacity and ability to work together to offer quality courses, services and supports online, and we have learned important lessons that will serve to further enhance the quality of the student learning experience for the rapidly approaching Fall term.

I know we all miss having full access to our campuses and being able to see each other in person. With our country, province and city beginning to open up, we at York are actively developing a comprehensive academic and operational plan that will support an orderly and phased return to more fulsome operations on our campuses. The University re-entry plan will be guided by all necessary health and safety precautions provided by public health and activated when it is clear it is safe to do so. Further information will be provided throughout the coming weeks.

Advocating for our students and post-secondary education 
As you are aware, the global pandemic is dramatically impacting every sector of society to varying degrees. Along with other University presidents, I have been actively advocating for our students and our sector. Our efforts were instrumental in the new federal programs, including the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and improvements to the student loan and grant programs, as well as provincial efforts to provide loan relief. Our advocacy has also resulted in the federal government making temporary changes to allow international students to begin their studies online in the fall and prioritize their study permits. This is in addition to the work and VISA flexibility already provided for in the summer session. Further advocacy work is ongoing.

Keeping our community informed
Over the past few weeks, members of York’s senior administration joined me in participating in many virtual townhall meetings across the University. We listened closely to your questions and concerns while providing as much information as possible. We will be holding another community forum in the coming weeks and will be in contact when we have finalized a date. You can also stay up-to-date by visiting the COVID-19 website.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all of our faculty and staff for the truly extraordinary work being done to allow our students to continue their academic journey and for supporting one another. I would also like to acknowledge our students for their perseverance and contributions to advancing York University.

I am confident that together we will come through this challenging time stronger than before.

Sincerely,

Rhonda L. Lenton
President & Vice-Chancellor