To help students who would’ve already graduated if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the province has announced that certain post-secondary institutions will be allowed to reopen this summer.
Starting in July and lasting until September, limited in-person education and training may restart for students who weren’t able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures — namely, thousands of students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas such as nursing, personal support workers, engineering, and other critical professions.
The government says this reopening will allow those students the remaining in-person education they need to graduate, while also helping schools prepare for the fall term by ensuring proper health and safety protocols are in place.
“It’s critical that we allow students to complete their studies and graduate so they can join the workforce in high-demand, frontline roles and help put the province back on the path to prosperity,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities.
“I will continue to collaborate with the post-secondary sector to determine how best to move forward on reopening our campuses in the fall and beyond in a way that is responsible and safe for our students and staff.”
Publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous Institutes, private career colleges, and other post-secondary education institutions may participate in this voluntary reopening.
The government says institutions that choose to participate will be responsible for establishing their own plans in accordance with public health advice and any ministry guidance.
This summer, the government will also start working on a digital and academic modernization framework “in order to maintain Ontario’s position as a global leader in higher education and research” albeit through a virtual setting.
In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats.
“Whether it’s donating PPE, researching a vaccine or treatment, or helping with contact tracing, our students, researchers and postsecondary community in Ontario have stepped up in a big way to support our frontline health care workers in response to COVID-19,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“Now, we have to have their backs and make sure our students can keep learning, in class or virtually, and become the next generation of frontline heroes, innovators and community builders.”