Graduate Students: Planning for a phased return to campuses this Fall 2020-2021

As the University begins to plan for a gradual and phased return to our campuses, it is important to recognize that the pandemic state of emergency is still in effect. York has joined all other GTA Universities and many large organizations in supporting the City of Toronto’s request to continue remote work until fall 2020.

This means that most University departments will continue with their current remote working arrangements as they have since March 20 until at least September, unless otherwise notified. 

Over the next few months expansion of our required services will include:

  • gradually ramping up research;
  • introducing “curbside” library pickup of collections not available online and services to increase digital content; and
  • offering selected in-person smaller classes and tutorials in the fall term, along with experiential learning activities such as studios and labs, for those courses that require face-to-face instruction.

All these plans and activities are within the context of the provincial government’s Framework for Reopening our Province and the University.

The University continues to be guided by public health and government directives and coordinated with the university sector in Ontario and Canada, to ensure that the University’s mission of high-quality teaching, research and learning is successfully supported while operating under emergency restrictions.

York’s Phased Return to Campus plan will guide and serve our entire community: faculties, programs, campuses, students, staff, faculty and instructors. The plan will fully address the unique needs of different students, academic and research programs, locations, and other factors. In all the University’s plans, York will continue to live its values of being a kind and caring community, placing people and their needs at the forefront.

Operational planning for this phased return to our campuses is being supported by York’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which also continues to manage all ongoing campus operations while we remain in this pandemic state of emergency.  Our commitment to the entire York community is that we will not begin any of our phased return to campus activities until we are permitted to do so and the necessary health and safety measures are in place so that we all continue to be protected.

Overview of plans for the Phased Return to Campus 
The balance of this document addresses activities underway or planned. Additional detailed and specific information about these plans will be communicated separately and posted on the Phased Return to Campus website.

Gradually Ramping Up Research
Since late March, only those research labs conducting critical COVID-19 related research and time-sensitive critical projects have been physically open on campus. Many of our researchers are continuing their research from home. Over the past weeks, the Office of VPRI, all York Faculties, and the Council of Research Directors of the Organized Research Units have worked closely with the Emergency Operations Centre to develop a carefully staged and gradual ramping up of research.

Approved York researchers are expected to gradually return to campus beginning the week of June 22, 2020 in a staged manner following the provincial government’s Framework for Reopening our Province and York’s coordination of necessary supports. Essential staff required to support these research activities will also be returning to campus.

Restoring on Campus Library Services:
Throughout the pandemic, online and other remote services are being offered by York University Libraries to ensure students have access to important learning materials and can avail themselves of research guidance and assignment support through a variety of remote modes of online communications.

Librarians and archivists continue to teach a range of online classes from assignment-based research resources to digital literacy, tailored to course and curricular needs:

To expand access to content not available online, a comprehensive plan to safely implement “curbside pickup” of library materials and services to increase digital content is anticipated to start by June 29, 2020.

Facility Services Support:
York Facility Management is supporting these essential activities and is completing a space allocation plan to support all the high priority/required research and library space requirements, while providing for the necessary physical distancing, security and safety plans, custodial and washroom protocols, signage and PPE requirements.

Fall Term Academic Planning:
In May, the University announced its plans for the Fall term. After consulting with the government and public health authorities, as well as Senate Executive, the University decided to offer a full selection of academic programming using primarily online/remote learning, with select in-person instruction.

The University is providing a range of supports for instructors to prepare to deliver courses and programs remotely.

It is anticipated that we will also be able to offer select in-person experiential activities that cannot be easily adapted to remote delivery format including labs and studios.

Housing & Residence Life:
Residences will remain open with a reduced number of rooms/beds to ensure safe physical distancing and a small ratio of students assigned to each bathroom facility. Visit the Housing website for details.

Return to Campus Website:
With so much uncertainty related to the pandemic, we will endeavour to provide as much clarity as possible to students, faculty, instructors and staff by communicating early and often as plans evolve.

A dedicated Return to Campus website source is being prepared to provide the York community with clear, consistent and timely communications throughout this phased return to campus as we move forward in the coming weeks and months. We encourage you to stay informed as we continue to share plans and programs.

As always, we are grateful to all our community members for their continued patience, understanding and commitment as we continue to manage our way through these challenging times.

Best regards,

Rhonda L. Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor