Early March, York students received an email saying the school is “actively planning for a safe return to campuses for the fall 2021 term.” Upon first reading this email, I was shocked and immediately felt uncomfortable with this decision.
I am an out-of-province student currently studying in Nova Scotia. I feel safe in my province and do not feel comfortable to make plans to return to Ontario in the next five months. While the email also states that online learning will continue for those who face health or travel restrictions, what does this really mean? Does it refer to international students? Domestic? What about residents of Toronto who don’t feel safe on the TTC to get to campus?
It seems foolish to search for an apartment in Toronto for the fall when it seems likely that the situation could potentially change once again, leaving me stuck in another province with an extremely expensive rent, an unfortunate situation I found myself in a year ago. As I am writing this article, Ontario has been placed in another lockdown, with a stay-at-home order enacted as cases hover around 3,000 per day.
As a dance major, virtual classes just don’t compare to the experience of dancing in a studio with others. While I am extremely grateful for the lengths that York went to continue to provide fine arts students with these courses, the quality of my education has been significantly reduced due to the pandemic.
My dance instructors this past year have emphasized on the importance of taking care of our health during these difficult times. I will continue to take that advice throughout my degree and beyond as I express my worries for returning to campus in just a short five months from right now.
Despite how bad I am itching to get back into the studio, I am not comfortable doing so as of yet and I am sure that there are many other students who feel the same way.
Experts are saying this third wave could potentially be more harmful to young people due to not getting vaccinated and new variants of the virus. If universities reopen, especially those in highly populated areas such as York, how could this affect us?
As of right now, just under three per cent of Canada is vaccinated. While there is plenty of time for this number to significantly rise before the first day of classes, will York ask that only vaccinated students and staff be on campus? What will the guidelines be? York needs to provide a clear plan for how this will look and what contingencies will be in place should this not be feasible.
While it is fantastic to be hoping for a safe and positive return to campus this fall, I think it’s too early to tell whether or not in-person classes will be safe. While I can’t wait for the day I can return to classes in-person and socialize again, I refuse to do so if I am putting myself and others at risk.
York should have gotten their logistics straight prior to announcing their decision and causing worry for students like myself. This pandemic is way too unpredictable to make plans for the fall as of yet. Using my mother’s words, let’s hope for the best but plan for the worst.