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Ontario colleges, universities to begin gradual reopening in July

Thursday, June 11, 2020 @ 3:30 PM | By John Schofield

The Ontario government has announced a gradual resumption of instruction at post-secondary institutions across the province beginning in July.

The first phase will allow institutions to reopen to provide in-person instruction to students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas such as, such as nursing, personal support workers, engineering, and other critical professions, according to a June 10 government news release. “Thousands of students across the province could benefit from this summer's reopening,” it adds.

In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend post-secondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction or hybrid formats.

The limited summer reopening will help individual institutions prepare for the fall term by ensuring proper health and safety protocols are in place, the release states. “The province is developing a framework to be released to the sector in the coming days,” it adds, “which will provide guidance on the summer reopening and on health and safety measures.”

The voluntary reopening plan, which was developed in consultation with the province’s chief medical officer of health, is aimed at publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous institutes, private career colleges and other post-secondary education institutions. Institutions that choose to participate will be responsible for establishing their own plans for the limited reopening in accordance with public health advice and any Ministry guidance.

The government also announced that it will begin working this summer on a digital and academic modernization framework geared to “unlocking the potential of virtual learning, adapting post-secondary education and training to meet the needs of a rapidly changing job market and economy, increasing the accountability of post-secondary education, developing the necessary physical and digital infrastructure, and fully realizing the value of research, innovation, and intellectual property licensing in the domestic and global marketplace.”

“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.”