Several universities announce plans for fall, with mostly online education – University Affairs



Universities across the country are starting to voice their intentions for September.

Several new announcements from universities across the country have confirmed their plans for the fall semester. Almost all are preparing for primarily online learning when classes resume, although most still have the option of at least some in-person instruction. Two universities on opposite ends of the country – Royal Roads University in Victoria and Memorial University in St. John’s – have categorically stated that full in-person classes on campus will not resume until January 2021.

British Columbia

On Monday, a number of universities in British Columbia, in a way that appeared to be concerted, declared their intentions for the fall. Santa Ono, President of the University of British Columbia, announcement that the university “will primarily offer larger online courses with smaller courses selected in person, respecting physical distancing and other public health requirements.”

At Simon Fraser University, most courses will continue to be offered remotely, although SFU President Andrew Petter said in a video message that “we will endeavor to provide in-person instruction in courses whose learning objectives cannot be achieved by distance means”, such as labs, fieldwork and graduate seminars.

University of Victoria President Jamie Cassels also announcement that the university will offer programming “primarily online for the fall term”. Geoff Payne, Interim President of the University of Northern British Columbia echoed that the fall semester will be delivered “mainly via alternative delivery methods”.

Earlier on May 7, Thompson Rivers University President Brett Fairbairn expressed his opinion in a video message that “many of our programs will undoubtedly continue to be offered in an alternative format, ie virtually”.

The only exception to these announcements was Royal Roads University, which issued a declaration on May 7, confirming that “Programs, courses and residencies will continue to be delivered entirely online until December 31, 2020. Students in program areas that cannot be transferred to online work will be contacted at subject to other provisions ”.


The University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina announced their intentions yesterday. U of S, for its part, said the fall term “will primarily combine distance online learning, with limited classroom, laboratory, clinical and physical instruction only when warranted and when circumstances permit”. Likewise, U of R declared he takes a “cautious approach”, specifying that “the continuation of the distance delivery that we now use offers the students of the fall semester the best chances of academic success”.

The University of Saskatchewan campus will be quiet in September. Photo courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan.


The rector of the University of Montreal, Guy Breton, announcement May 9 that “the fall semester 2020 will be held largely remotely”, adding that “only certain courses or portions of courses may be taught on campus”.

McGill University followed on Monday, to announce this fall’s courses “will be offered primarily through distance delivery platforms.” As the situation evolves, the university “will examine the possibilities for student life and learning activities on campus, which will adhere to rigorous security protocols.” These can include activities such as small in-class seminars, lectures, tutorials, workshops or reading groups, as well as various campus life and engagement activities.

Laval University followed with its own ad yesterday that he too is considering offering online and distance learning in most courses. The university expects that, for the fall, “the physical presence of students on campus will be reduced to the strict minimum.”

Atlantic Provinces

The Association of Atlantic Universities said in A declaration Monday that the management of the university is “cautiously optimistic about the resumption of institutional operations for the fall semester”. Nonetheless, Allister Surette, rector of Université Sainte-Anne and current president of the association, warned “that it is highly probable that certain university programs [or aspects of programs] will be delivered virtually.

Memorial University had a more pessimistic note, announce yesterday that new and old students will be greeted by a “mostly distance teaching and learning environment for the fall semester”. The university added that “full in-person classes on campus will not resume until January 2021.”

St. Francis Xavier University President Kevin Wamsley turned more to optimism, declaring May 8 that “we are preparing for the resumption of classes in September 2020, on campus and in person.” However, as with other institutions, he added that, as the course of the pandemic remains fluid and uncertain, “we are also taking the cautious step of starting to plan for emergencies to take into account the possibility of giving classes. online and in an alternative format “.


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