On Tuesday, March 22, York hosted a virtual town hall meeting that focused on plans and information regarding the current winter semester and the upcoming summer semester.
As President Rhonda Lenton joined the meeting, her first major announcement was York’s intention to be moving toward pausing the university’s vaccine mandate, mask protocol, and daily screenings as of May 1. For Osgoode students, this stipulation will come in place on May 3 after exams.
“These moves are in line with the ongoing easing of public health related restrictions across other public settings in Toronto and Ontario and are based on extensive consultations with public health experts.” Lenton noted that these moves are also in line with similar approaches being made by other Ontario universities.
Regardless of this announcement, Lenton still encourages York to “remain vigilant,” to keep tabs on their health, and to get every COVID-19 vaccine dose when eligible.
York will also continue to encourage the community to continue wearing masks and ask that others be respectful of those who continue to do so.
Lenton emphasized that York will continue to carefully monitor case counts and consult with Toronto Public Health as restrictions continue to lift across the province. If necessary, York is prepared to reinstate COVID-19 safety requirements on “very short notice.”
“Throughout the past two years, we have been guided by the advice of experts. We have been served well by the entire higher education sector by making the best decisions that evaluate how we are able to reopen in-person activities on our campuses. We will continue along that path, and continue to consult with those agencies and individuals and seek their advice to see if we need to re-engage with masking requirements and vaccination mandates.”
Meanwhile, both Provost Lisa Phillips and Lenton confirmed that 39 per cent of courses will be offered online during the summer term. Vice Provost for Students Lucy Fromowitz followed up this announcement to advise students to double check the desired course notes to confirm if a course will be offered remotely or have asynchronous accommodations.
Special Advisor to the President for Academic Continuity and Associate Professor of the School of Kinesiology Parissa Safai detailed that while York is working towards more flexibility with regard to in-person events on campus, they hinted that York will likely return to a more “traditional” model of in-person events come the 2022 fall semester.
The town hall welcomed the new Vice President of Advancement, Susana Gajic-Bruyea. She was announced as the new VP back in November and spoke on the great success surrounding the impact campaign for York’s new School of Medicine along with the Division of Advancement’s plans to “blend and extend” on other capital projects.
President Lenton concluded the meeting by thanking the administrators who took part in the town hall along with those that sent in questions and is hopeful that future meetings could return to an in-person environment.