More GTA universities delay plans to resume in-person learning amid threat posed by Omicron
A woman walks in front of Ryerson University signage on campus in Toronto, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Published Thursday, December 16, 2021 2:17PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 16, 2021 5:07PM EST
Ryerson University has become the latest post-secondary institution to announce a shift to remote learning following the holiday break due the rapid spread of COVID-19 cases.
The school has been gradually returning to in-person learning since November and had planned to offer most classes in-person to start its winter term in January.
But in a letter to students and faculty on Thursday, President Mohamed Lachemi said that a decision has now been made to push back that broader return due to the threat posed by the Omicron variant.
Lachemi said that classes will now be held virtually until Jan. 30 and “wherever possible” remote work will continue.
“We know the immediate weeks ahead will be critical in managing the spread of the Omicron variant; this move to a modified start of term will help ensure the continued health and safety of our community,” the letter states. “Beginning next week, the province is ramping up their booster program - we would strongly encourage all of our community members to receive a booster as soon as they are eligible to do so.”
Ontario's Science Advisory Table has estimated that cases involving the Omicron variant are now doubling every 2.2 days and could surpass 10,000 a day by early January without new public health measures and an accelerated rollout of booster doses.
The rapid spread of the variant, which is believed to be more than six times as infectious as Delta, has already prompted a number of post-secondary institutions to make similar decisions about in-person learning.
On Wednesday York University also said that it would delay the return of in-person learning. Students at York will participate in classes virtually when the winter term starts on Jan. 10 and will not return to classrooms until at least Jan. 24.
Queen’s University in Kingston has also said that it will delay the return to in-person learning until after its winter break, currently scheduled for the week of Feb. 28.