Kitchener-Waterloo

'It's exciting:' UW embraces return to in-person learning as province sends memo

Universities are working to ensure a safe return back to campus after Ontario's post-secondary institutions were told to prepare for a normal return to campus in the fall, with backup plans just in case of more coronavirus spread.

Ministry tells colleges and universities to prepare for in-person class to resume this fall

Ontario's post-secondary institutions are told to prepare for a normal return to campus in the fall, with backup plans just in case of the virus spreading. Universities in the region are working to ensure a safe return back to campus. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Universities in Waterloo region and Guelph say a new memo from the province has given them the ability to expand their learning, and open up more spaces on campus for students to be welcomed.

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities told Ontario's post-secondary institutions on Monday to prepare for all in-person classes and activities to resume this fall, without capacity limits or physical distancing.

Institutions should also have plans for how learning will continue in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks. 

Director of media relations at the University of Waterloo, Chris Wilson-Smith welcomes the announcement.

"We can do more in-person teaching, and labs, hopefully we'll see a higher attendance in clubs and extracurricular activities," said Wilson-Smith. 

"It really just means that we'll be able to open up campus a lot more, it's exciting." 

Similar to other universities, the University of Waterloo plans to split courses online and in-person to ensure that students who aren't able to come on campus to learn, will be able to do so in September. 

Carleen Carroll, assistant vice-president of External Relations said they’re looking forward to welcoming their students back on campus in the fall. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Wilson-Smith said the university will continue to put protocols in place to make sure students are safely learning on campus.

"Those measures include and have included for a number of months now, checking-in when you arrive on campus, ensuring physical distancing and wearing masks," he said.

At Wilfrid Laurier University, Carleen Carroll, assistant vice-president of External Relations said they're looking forward to welcoming their students back on campus in the fall, since they want to have more in-person activity and clarity in terms of the academic calendar. 

"Fall is all about the student experience, certainty and accessibility. We are delivering in-person student experiences that build the connections and engagement," she said. 

"Our students have been missing as well as providing student residence, clubs, fitness facilities, and health and wellness programming."

The University of Guelph hasn't made any decisions yet, relevant decisions at the school will not be made until late August.

Most students attending post-secondary institutions in Ontario have been off campus since March 2020.

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