June 10, 2020, Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano announced the government’s plan for the gradual resumption of in-person instruction at post-secondary institutions across the province.
Out of an abundance of caution, Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, were not in attendance at this afternoon’s press conference after Education Minister Stephen Lecce came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Minister Lecce has since tested negative for COVID-19 and Premier Ford and Minister Elliott are being tested.
Plan to Reopen Post-Secondary Sector
Beginning on July 2, 2020, limited in-person education and training may resume for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures.
Minister Romano referred to this category of students as “academically-stranded,” meaning students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas, such as nursing, personal support workers and engineering. In many cases, due to the inability to access in-person labs and practicums during COVID-19, students in this category fell short of the in-person training hours required to graduate. “Academically stranded” students represent approximately 10,000 students within Ontario’s post-secondary sector.
Students who opt take part in the first phase of the province’s post-secondary reopening will have up to eight weeks to complete their programs of study. The pilot will conclude by September and best practices from the pilot will be implemented as the sector opens more fully in the fall.
The province is developing a framework to be released to the post-secondary sector in the coming days, which will provide guidance on the summer reopening pilot and on health and safety measures. Publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous Institutes, private career colleges, and other post-secondary education institutions are eligible to participate in the voluntary reopening. Institutions that choose to participate must establish their own plans in accordance with public health advice and ministry guidance.
In response to questions about specific health restrictions that will be in place on campuses during the summer reopening, Minister Romano referred to physical distancing measures, as well as screening, cleaning, and peer-to-peer monitoring to enforce adherence to health protocols.
In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend post-secondary institutions through virtual learning, in-class instruction or hybrid formats.