York University Memo: Academic Planning – Fall 2020

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We are incredibly grateful to the entire community for coming together to provide our diverse student body access to the high-quality, research-intensive experience for which we are known. Your tremendous support has ensured the University’s ability to maintain core functions over the past month, despite the severe restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we near completion of the Winter academic term, we are preparing for Summer courses to start in May.  While there is still much work to do in transitioning our courses to online/remote formats for Summer, we must necessarily also plan for the Fall as students will soon enrol in courses.

We will shortly be sending an email to all students reassuring them that classes for the 2020-2021 academic year will begin in September even if courses need to be delivered wholly or partially through remote instruction.  While we are eager to resume in-person study and work, we want to assure everyone that the return to in-person operations will be guided first and foremost by the health and safety of our entire community based on the advice of public health authorities and the status of emergency orders by governments.  

There are early signs that Ontario has had some success in "flattening the curve" of COVID-19, and with continued physical distancing, the worst of this outbreak may be behind us as early as May.  Nevertheless, we should expect there to be some limitations in the use of our campuses for some time. Universities operate in social networks and we collaborate in different groupings across various spaces of campus. As well, students live and socialize together in our residences. This environment can pose a risk for transmission of the coronavirus. Even after emergency restrictions are lifted, we will need to be ready for the possibility of new outbreaks and the return of strict physical-distancing measures.  International students, and students who live a distance from our campuses, may also face delays in travel and some may be reluctant to leave their homes until there is greater clarity that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

We recognize that everyone -- be they course directors, faculty or staff -- will need time to prepare and implement the necessary academic and operational plans for the Fall to deliver the high-quality teaching and support for which York is known.  We will be providing regular updates regarding the delivery approach to be taken.  We have ample evidence and are fully confident that the York community has the capabilities, determination and resilience to find solutions together. 

As soon as it is safe to do so, we will resume in-person activities. Interacting with our students and colleagues in person is vital to the work that we do, and we will all appreciate this as never before.

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