Coping with Covid in the Coming Year
Woodsworth will take a variety of approaches in the coming year.
By W. Brock MacDonald, Vice-Principal
The current pandemic poses significant challenges for students, faculty, and staff alike at Woodsworth, as it does for the U of T community as a whole. Ever since the closing of the campus in March, it’s been necessary to move all classes online, along with all student support services and all administration. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff, students were able to complete the 2019/20 academic year without too much disruption, and the summer term has been very successful, with strong enrolment numbers. Now, as the province of Ontario reopens in stages, we’re all looking to September and the beginning of the new term.
Most universities across Canada will be offering online courses only this year, but U of T is taking a different approach. Surveys of our students tell us that the in-person classroom experience is one of the things about studying here they value most, so we’re determined to provide that for as many students as we can, while taking the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s health and safety. As much as possible, courses this year will be offered using a “dual delivery” model, with some students attending class on campus while others participate online. The capacity of every classroom has been recalculated for physical distancing, and the enrolment process will involve students signing up for either in-person or online sections of their courses.
Here at Woodsworth, our challenge is to implement this approach successfully while at the same time preserving the distinctive character of our programs, especially Woodsworth One, our First Year Foundations seminars, and Academic Bridging, with their special emphasis on participation and community building. It’s an opportunity to do some creative thinking about the ways we teach and support our students, and everyone at the College is rising to the occasion. It’s going to be an unusual year, but it should still be a good one!