In an effort to address the rapid spread of COVID-19, University of Toronto president Meric Gertler has announced that the university will be cancelling all in-person undergraduate and research-stream Masters and Doctoral courses across all three campuses, effective March 16 until the end of classes on Friday, April 3. The university will continue operations and all three campuses will remain open during this time.

This decision comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus as a pandemic last week. Subsequent measures were taken by schools and universities across the GTA, including the closure of publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks after March break. 

While in-person classes will be canceled, university operations will continue as usual, and public spaces including libraries, residences, food services, health & wellness centres, and athletics and recreation facilities will remain open.

The newly identified COVID-19 is part of a larger family of viruses called coronavirus. Coronaviruses are common in animals, but once transmitted between animals and people they can cause illnesses ranging from mild to severe respiratory problems and flu-like symptoms, to more serious infections like pneumonia.

“One of the key factors in these decisions is the need to foster a degree of ‘social distancing,’” said Meric Gertler in his statement. “Our goal is to help interrupt the chain of transmission in the wider community, thereby protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that our health care system will not become overburdened.”

Just this week, the university announced it would no longer require a doctor’s note for absences due to cold or flu-like symptoms, or self-isolation.

As of publication, there are 152 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with 60 in Ontario. 

Toronto Public Health is calling for anyone who is showing flu-like symptoms to self-isolate and practice social distancing.

This story is ongoing. More to come.

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