Picture of Queen's Park
COU Statement: Reopening of Postsecondary Institutions
June 10, 2020

TORONTO, June 10, 2020 – “Ontario’s universities remain committed to a safe and measured resumption of in-person instruction for the summer term and look forward to welcoming a new cohort of students this fall.

Today, the provincial government announced a plan to support the gradual resumption of in-person instruction at postsecondary institutions as part of Ontario’s entry into Stage 2 of reopening. The phased reopening approach will start in July with limited in-person education and training this summer for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures.

This plan, developed through consultation with the sector, ensures universities are well positioned to support more than 2,000 university students, who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in finishing their studies and realizing their dreams of completing a university degree.

Many of these students are enrolled in programs that require practicums, lab work and other components which could not be fulfilled though other delivery models.

As Ontario’s universities support these “academically stranded students”, they are also making every effort to ensure both new and returning students can continue to access a high quality postsecondary education that will prepare them for a career and provide the skills required to be nimble in our changing world.

This September, students will have the opportunity to attend an Ontario university through technology enhanced learning, in-class or hybrid formats. While this time may be marked by uncertainty, this disruption will be temporary. The adaptable, lifelong skills and insights gained through a university education will serve students throughout their careers.

Ensuring safety for students and staff, and that they are comfortable and confident about returning to campus, is – and will always be – a priority for our institutions. As universities continue to develop their own approach to the fall term they are guided by common principles of ensuring the health and safety of their communities, delivering high quality programs and an enriching university experience that will support student success, and continuing to provide excellence in research.

In order to support the success of our students, the province’s talented workforce who will help retool industries, build thriving regions and support a globally competitive economy through ground-breaking innovation that will be vital to Ontario’s recovery, the province will need strong and financially stable institutions.

We look forward to consulting with government how our institutions can continue to deliver a quality experience for our students and remain strong partners in developing a talented workforce and driving a dynamic research engine that will result in future economic prosperity, as our institutions work to mitigate the financial impacts of the costs associated with COVID-19, such as implementing new technology enhanced delivery models and ensuring we have the tools, supplies and space required to protect the health and safety of everyone on our campuses.

Ontario’s universities stand ready, at every stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide assistance and work together with our provincial government, industry and the communities in which they reside. We will continue to explore innovative solutions to provide the safest options for summer and fall enrolment that align with public health regulations and ensure students receive high quality education and an enriching university experience.

By working together, we can support the academic success and future skills of our students, continue to foster innovative research and ideas and help strengthen and restore Ontario’s competitive economy – creating a better future for our students, communities and the province.”

David Lindsay
President & CEO
Council of Ontario Universities