Ontario University Reopening Plans, How does UW compare to its peers?


The Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced on July 16 that post-secondary institutions should prepare to resume in-person instruction and on-campus activities. 

Universities will still have to follow public health and workplace safety rules regarding COVID-19 including mask-wearing indoors and maintaining social distancing when possible, but schools will have more flexibility in offering university experiences including virtual and hybrid learning. 

The University of Waterloo has since announced that they will be continuing with the hybrid model they previously planned for the fall 2021 term. The university is working to offer as many in-person classes as possible with required physical distancing, while also assuring that all fall term courses will finish the way they start. 

UW also plans on expanding in-person experiences such as labs and libraries as public health restrictions are lifted. The university is preparing to offer access to The Centre, Health Services, Counselling Services, the bookstore, study spaces, food spaces, student clubs and recreational activities. 

Residences will also be open to students, with the requirement that residents have their first dose of the vaccination with plans to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and able to provide proof of such vaccination. This decision comes after an advisory by the Region of Waterloo medical officer of health. 

Other Ontario universities, such as Queen’s University, are preparing for a full return to campus for fall 2021. This return includes masks to be required indoors, but class-size limits and physical distancing requirements will depend on government-mandated restrictions. McMaster University, the University of Windsor and Seneca College are planning for a mix of online, in-person and hybrid options for learning. Seneca also announced that it would require everyone attending campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The college is also planning to offer flexible options for learning, which would allow students to choose when to attend lectures in-person and when to attend online. 

When it comes to the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities requires institutions to have a Continuity of Education plan ready by September.