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How Two Toronto Post-Secondary Schools Are Innovating Education This Fall

As the start of a new semester approaches, and with tuition remaining the same, here are two ways institutions are taking to make learning safe and accessible.

The Big Picture: Universities are either organizing in-person plans with up to date safety measures or investing resources into creating a virtual space that provides students with an experience similar to being on campus.

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Back to school is upon us: Elementary and high school students are heading back wearily into social-distanced classrooms, much to the stress of parents and teachers

  • This is not the case for post-secondary institutions as students will be mostly learning from home via online classes. However, the experience will vary between schools and faculties.

In-Person and Online Hybrid

Humber College has been preparing for a mixture of online and in-person learning. They have even waived specific fees (such as athletics and campus safety) from this semester’s tuition. Humber is renowned for their media programs. Having partial access to a hands-on learning environment is being implemented by The Faculty of Media and Creative Arts regarding technical facilities, which includes:

  • Plexiglass installation in booking centres, all administrative staff will be equipped with PPE, and additional staff will be hired to sanitize equipment.
  • For all media-related rentals, “The pick-up locations will be working on reduced hours of operation to minimize the amount of time that individuals spend on campus. For contract tracing purposes, all non-class-based facilities will be by reservation only. All microphones and headphones will come with disposable covers.”
  • Humber will use alternative spaces for equipment to deliver and pick up gear. Computer labs will have a maximum of 50 per cent room capacity. There will be a monitored reservation system to control access.

Although most on-campus related activity remains closed, Humber College regularly engages with the student community via its COVID-19 updates page.

A Commitment to Virtual Learning

Ryerson University states that ordinary expenses have not changed due to the pandemic, and they have not adjusted tuition in light of this. Aiming to get students excited to go back to school and make up for the social aspect missing from campus life, Ryerson Orientation 2020 went ahead. It included events such as a Virtual Escape Room and Drag Bingo. They have also strived to offer exemplary online classes, invested in new software and created avenues for students who require financial assistance throughout our global crisis. Here are some of their updates:

  • Ryerson University has sustained almost $10M in additional costs dealing with the pandemic’s immediate challenges from March until May.
  • The emergency funding included “providing more than $3 million in Student Relief Funds to more than 4,000 students, offering additional bursaries through Ryerson’s departmental discretionary accounts, as well as distributing specific relief funds across various faculties through the Student Awards and Scholarships Office representing an additional financial commitment of almost $2 million.”
  • Further investments included “more than $250,000 to expand the Library’s laptop lending program and offer wifi hotspot lending to ensure that students in need had the technology and connectivity required to complete coursework.”
  • Ryerson has partnered with a virtual counselling service called keep.meSAFE to equip students with mental health and crisis management experts.

As Ryerson’s campus remains closed, on-campus facilities such as the library remain inaccessible. As a student living in Toronto, however, you can obtain a Toronto Public Library card, which includes printing services and e-books. Public libraries were allowed to resume operation following stage 3 of reopening under public health guidelines.

The Bottom Line: The fall 2020 semester will be very different for students in light of COVID-19, but how exactly its look and feels will be up to your school’s department administration’s discretion.