The University of Guelph is updating the City of Guelph and greater Guelph community about plans for the fall semester amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The public health crisis continues to affect people and organizations in Guelph, across Canada and beyond,” said Daniel Atlin, vice-president (external).
“It is a complex, rapidly changing situation, which makes planning and decision-making incredibly challenging.”
The University continues to closely monitor public health and provincial updates and directives, Atlin said. While the Ontario government has put health measures in place and approached re-opening with great thought and care, uncertainty remains, he said. As a result, U of G — along with universities across the province — had to re-evaluate its approach for fall 2020.
“Our No. 1 priority is health and safety. With this in mind, we have implemented a number of changes, which will affect the University and greater Guelph communities,” Atlin said.
“We remain committed to delivering a high-quality, innovative and engaging educational experience for our students and to being a strong partner to the City of Guelph.”
U of G, like most universities, is planning for a hybrid fall semester, with only a small percentage of courses and activities offered face-to-face.
In order to abide by physical distancing requirements, the University is capping the number of students living in residences to about 1,000, with 700 undergraduates in campus residences and another 300 students in family housing. This is 4,000 fewer students than usual. Only students with special housing accommodation circumstances will be eligible to live on campus fall semester.
In addition, all varsity university sports are cancelled across Canada until December 31, which means there will not be a homecoming football game or other public sporting events.
As a result of these changes, there will be far fewer students, staff, faculty and visitors on campus come September.
“We are disappointed that we will not be able to physically welcome most of our students back and that we have to limit the number of students living in our residences due to COVID-19,” said Carrie Chassels, vice-provost (student affairs).
Chassels added the University recognizes that students need to make important decisions in the coming months about where they plan to live and learn.
“We want to assure everyone that there will be plenty of opportunities this fall for students to be supported, to get involved and to stay connected,” she said.
This includes moving U of G’s legendary O-Week and many other “welcome to campus” activities online, and offering virtual student experiences, clubs and recreation activities, wellness services, counselling and academic advising. Following public health guidelines, some athletic offerings and other activities may still occur on campus.
In making today’s update, Atlin thanked the U of G community, City of Guelph, and friends and supporters of the University. “We appreciate the continued patience and support during these challenging and unprecedented times,” he said.
“The global pandemic has created a dynamic, ever-evolving higher education landscape, which has required us to make some difficult choices quickly. But we are confident these are the right decisions to protect our students, faculty, staff, their families and our communities, while still providing an outstanding living and learning environment.”