COVID-19 information and resources for the U of T community

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and U of T's response

Latest message: May 28, 2020, 8:50am EDT

Looking ahead to September 2020

Please read President Gertler's message on our roadmap for a safe U of T experience on our new UTogether 2020 page.

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Frequently asked questions

Last updated: May 27, 2020, 2:05pm EDT (Updated question 1.6)

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1. Campus life, classes and events

As part of Canada’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Premier of Ontario has declared a state of emergency and the Prime Minister has encouraged all Canadians to stay home wherever possible. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly recommending individuals over 70 years of age and those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions self-isolate. This means only leaving the house or seeing other people for essential reasons.

If you are a student living off-campus: All students who live off-campus should remain at home.

If you are a student living in residence: We continue to provide residences and supports for those students who cannot return home at this point. 

More information for students living in residences is available on the Office of the Vice-Provost Students website.

If you are a faculty or staff member: For the University to deliver on our commitments to teaching, residences and critical research, some employees will be required to come to our campuses, and we remain committed to their health and safety. More information on who is required to come to campus is available on the HR & Equity COVID-19 website.

Everyone should stay home, not work, and self-isolate if they have flu-like symptoms.

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing etc.), please follow this Ontario Ministry of Health self-assessment tool.

A number of dedicated assessment centres have been established across the Greater Toronto Region to facilitate assessment and testing. Information on locations is available on local public health websites including Toronto and Peel Region.

If you are advised by a public health authority that you have tested positive for COVID-19, please contact ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca immediately.

The University has made the difficult decision not to hold in-person Convocation ceremonies in June 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the directives of public health authorities regarding social distancing and gatherings. Students who complete their degree requirements will still graduate and receive their degrees and parchments. A virtual convocation ceremony will be held on June 2 for all students eligible to graduate. Please visit the Office of Convocation website for further information and updates. Many divisions and Faculties are planning to celebrate graduation in-person, when public health authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

Our caretaking staff is increasing the frequency of cleaning of high touch-points areas such as handrails, door handles, elevator buttons and public counters.

We also are using the cancellation of in-person instruction and events as an opportunity to clean and disinfect all classrooms.

To help limit the spread of COVID-19, summer courses are being delivered remotely. We have created a central directory where you can find information on the summer session classes from all Faculties and divisions. 

On May 19, President Gertler announced a planned gradual return to our campuses in the fall of 2020, with a mix of online and in-person learning. As the University develops its plans, the health and safety of our community comes first. We hope to provide as much on-campus activity as is practical, sensible and safe and will follow the requirements of government and public health authorities.

Different academic divisions and departments are working toward solutions specific to their programs in terms of how best to deliver courses. They are working to provide a variety of options, both in-person and online, that students can select from in order to best meet their needs and interests. Students will have information about the delivery of each course in advance of choosing their courses.

Students registered with Accessibility Services should continue to contact Accessibility Services to receive accommodations and supports. Accessibility-related COVID-19 updates can be found here:  

Instructors should continue to work with the accessibility services on their campus on the implementation of final exam and assessment accommodations: 

On May 27, 2020 the Ontario government extended its Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to June 10, 2020. This prohibits organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people. 

At this time, and knowing that events take time and resources to plan, the University is recommending the postponement or cancellation of all events in June, July and August that cannot be hosted remotely. We would also recommend the consistent use of the following language for communications on postponements or cancellations: 

“The health, safety and well-being of our community members is very important to us. We regret to inform you that owing to the current situation with COVID-19, _________________ event has been postponed/cancelled until further notice.” 

If you choose to postpone the event, you may wish to add the following: 

“Once conditions permit, we will be in touch with further information about the possible rescheduling of this event. In the meantime, please accept our apologies and our best wishes for your continued health and wellbeing.” 

We are also recommending that events beyond summer 2020 be considered for transition to virtual meetings where possible, and postponement where virtual meetings are not feasible and where alternate dates in 2021 are possible. Those planning meetings need to bear in mind that physical distancing requirements will likely remain in place as well as international travel restrictions. We recognize that the landscape continues to change and so, for events beyond August, we would recommend the following language:  

“Please note that while planning for this event continues, the current pandemic conditions may require cancellation or postponement on short notice. We are actively monitoring the situation and will advise of changes as soon as we are able.” 

The University of Toronto has asked students to move out of residence if they are able. 

More information is available on the Vice-Provost, Students website.

For the 2020 winter term, there are no changes to tuition or ancillary fees (e.g. lab materials fees). All academic programs continued through alternative delivery modes, and the majority of activities supported by ancillary fees were already complete when courses transitioned to remote learning in the winter term.

For the summer session, there are reductions to non-tuition incidental fees that go to student services and recreation programs. Students continue to have access to supports including Health and Wellness, career centres and academic support offices. A range of programming is being offered online by Hart House and sport and recreation staff on all three campuses, including online fitness classes, nutrition discussions, virtual cafes and workshops. These services are being provided at a reduced fee and are a way for students to stay connected and active, no matter where they are. For more information about the range of programs and services that are available to students while buildings are closed, and for details on the fee reductions, please visit the Vice-Provost, Students website.

For summer session courses that begin in May (F and Y courses), there will be no changes to tuition fees. All academic programs are continuing through alternative delivery modes and students will receive academic credit for their courses.

If you have questions about the ancillary fees on your 2020 summer session ACORN invoice, please contact your divisional registrar.

We encourage undergraduate students who are facing financial hardship to contact their college or divisional registrar to apply for emergency bursaries, and graduate students to contact the School of Graduate Studies for support. A list of university and government financial supports for students is available at this website.

The University remains open, but with various measures in place to protect the health and safety of community members. We remain committed to the three core activities of teaching, residences and critical research, and the services to support these activities.

All libraries are closed. Students with concerns should use the Contact Us button located at the top of these FAQs, indicating their campus, in order to receive additional information.

All university buildings are closed to the general public. Members of the University community will need key or fob access to enter them or present appropriate identification to campus security. 

U of T daycares and athletic and recreation services are closed.

The University has temporarily closed playing fields on our three campuses following the orders of public health officials regarding the need for social distancing in order to slow transmission of COVID-19.  Many co-curricular events and workshops have moved online. Please visit the student life sites for UTM, UTSC and UTSG as well as Sports & Rec for details.

At present, most learners, other than post-graduate trainees (e.g., residents and fellows), are excluded from health-care settings. Learners, faculty and staff in a health science setting should follow the directions of the administration of the facility.

2. Travel

Based on the guidance of public health officials, the University is directing all members of our community and visitors to our three campuses and our off-campus sites to do the following: 

If you have travelled from anywhere outside Canada, including the United States, the Government of Canada has mandated that you self-isolate for 14 days. This includes visitors to Canada from the United States who only intend to be here for a short amount of time.

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing, etc.), please follow the directives of this Ontario Ministry of Health self-assessment tool.

Faculty, librarians and staff who are self-isolating should contact their Manager, Chair, or Division Head per normal practice and complete the Employee Absence Self-Declaration form, available in the HR Service Centre and linked below:

Though many employees will be working from home, it is important to record absences to support public health tracking efforts.

COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity website as a resource for any employees who can work from home while self-isolating. See FAQ #3.6.

For students, the University is temporarily suspending the need for a doctor’s note or medical certificate for absences from academic participation. Please use the Absence Declaration tool  on ACORN to declare an absence if you require consideration for missed academic work. You are responsible for contacting your instructors to request the academic consideration you are seeking. Record each day of your absence as soon as it begins, up until the day before you return to classes or other academic activities.

Students in residence should inform residence staff.

The Government of Canada advises against all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Accordingly, the University is also advising all members of its community to avoid all non-essential travel at this time. Please consult the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 travel advisory website for more information on international travel. As of May 25, 2020, the University of Toronto has cancelled future University activity to international locations for all students until December 31, 2020. 

If you are a PhD student who was planning to travel abroad for your dissertation research during this time, please visit the School of Graduate Studies COVID-19 page for information and advice. You should also contact the Safety Abroad office at safety.abroad@utoronto.ca. If your work can be carried out safely given the state of COVID-19 at time of travel and considering government advisories regarding travel, you may be able to proceed.

The University continues to monitor the Canadian government’s latest advisory related to COVID-19 and the Safety Abroad Office is in contact with its registered students. U of T has specific information related to COVID-19 that is regularly updated. Find out more about emergency resources or email safety.abroad@utoronto.ca for more information. 

We understand that students will have questions about academic activities abroad and how an early return will impact them. U of T is working to offer as much flexibility as possible to minimize impacts on students. 

Upon return to Canada from abroad, please follow public health guidance for 14 days of self-isolation.

On March 20, the Government of Canada announced that foreign nationals will be allowed to return to Canada if they have valid study or work permits or had been approved for a study permit when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020. 

Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada, will also be permitted to travel to Canada. These travel exemptions are effective as of March 26.

Those affected by these exemptions are now eligible to be allowed to board a flight to Canada as long as there are not restrictions in place in the country from which you are travelling (and as long as you have no symptoms that could be related to COVID-19). Please do the following as you prepare to return:

  • Review the Federal Government information for travelers returning to Canada so you’re aware of the limitations and expectations for those returning.  
  • Review travel restrictions for any country you’d be passing through on your way to Canada.  
  • When you arrive in Canada your health will be assessed before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory under a federal Quarantine Act order.

3. Faculty, librarians and staff

If you have HR-related questions about COVID-19, please visit the HR & Equity COVID-19 website.

If you are concerned about someone in the workplace who is ill and exhibiting flu-like symptoms or have concerns about safety in your workplace, speak to your Manager, Chair, or Department Head. Managers, Chairs or Department Heads are advised to contact environmental health & safety.

Employees in the workplace who are ill with flu-like symptoms should advise their Manager, Chair, or Department Head, stay home, complete the Employee Absence Self-Declaration form, and seek out medical advice accordingly (see FAQ #1.2).

There have been reports of discriminatory behaviours towards some members of our community. Behaviours and comments that perpetuate stereotypes are harmful and should not be tolerated or condoned. Assessment of risk should be based on exposure history and not on race or ethnicity. We encourage members to reinforce messaging of the University’s commitment to human rights and our values of diversity, inclusion, respect and civility.

Coronaviruses do not generally survive for long on surfaces so there is likely very low risk of them spreading from products or packaging. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often through direct contact with those who are ill coughing or sneezing.

Coronaviruses do not generally survive for long on surfaces so there is likely very low risk of them spreading from products or packaging. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often through direct contact with those who are ill coughing or sneezing.

If you have research questions related to COVID-19, please visit the Research & Innovation COVID-19 web site.

Since March 16, a significant portion of U of T’s workforce has worked remotely, and will continue to do so until further notice.

The province is strongly recommending that all work that is able to be done remotely be done in that manner. Some employees work in roles where there is a requirement to be physically present on our campuses to maintain these essential services identified by the province. Divisional HR offices are in communication with these individuals.

The COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity COVID-19 website as a resource for employees and managers. Information Technology Services (ITS) has also prepared technical work-from-home resources to support employees accessing work material while telecommuting. 

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees who are requesting work-from-home arrangements due to being immuno-compromised themselves can work directly with their Manager, Chair, or Department Head. These requests do not need to be reviewed by Environmental Health & Safety, and supervisors should approve these requests wherever possible.

If employees are unable to secure child care, they may utilize the following options: 

  • Request to work from home and telecommute (if the duties of their job and their child-care responsibilities allow). (See FAQ #3.6) 
  • Use personal / flex days in accordance with their employment policy or collective agreement. 
  • Access overtime banks.
  • Request to use vacation days. Any limits on using yet-to-be-accrued vacation are waived at this time. 

We ask Managers, Chairs, and Department Heads to approve these requests wherever possible. 

In addition, please note that based on the recommendation of public health officials, all University of Toronto childcare centres were closed effective Monday, March 16. 

The University is committed to ensuring that wherever possible faculty, librarians, and staff will continue to be compensated in the event of any event cancellations, programming reductions, government required shutdowns, or any other operational closures.

More information on pay continuity is available on the HR & Equity COVID-19 website.

The University has Working Alone Guidelines that include resources available to support members of our community while on our campuses.

We are aware that the COVID-19 pandemic may cause significant challenges for pre-tenure and pre-continuing status faculty members at the University of Toronto with respect to their research, scholarship and teaching.

In response, any pre-tenure or pre-continuing status faculty member may request a one-year delay in their timeline to tenure or to continuing status on the grounds of “serious personal circumstances beyond their control” associated with COVID-19.

Faculty members should submit any request for a delay in writing through their Dean/Chair/Director/Principal following the normal process.

A tenure stream faculty member may request a delay to their interim review, their tenure review, or both. A teaching stream faculty member may request a delay to their probationary review, their continuing status review, or both.

In line with the provisions of the Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments, we ask faculty members to submit any request at the earliest opportunity in the review process (i.e., as soon as you know or reasonably ought to know that your review may warrant a delay).

Yes. Any pre-permanent status librarian may request a delay in the date of their review for permanent status for a period of time equivalent to the time they are unable to physically work at the University due to COVID-19.

We ask librarians to submit any request at the earliest opportunity in the review process (i.e., as soon as you know or reasonably ought to know that your review may warrant a delay).

4. COVID-19 information

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that originate in animals but are known to cause respiratory illness in humans, particularly during the fall and winter months. Other novel coronaviruses have included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

In January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China. The provincial government provides updated statistics for Ontario.

The situation is rapidly evolving and the University of Toronto has been monitoring the situation very closely and taking action as necessary in light of the global situation, the advice of public health authorities and the interests of our community.

The risk of more severe illness may be higher for individuals with weakened immune systems such as older people or those with chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart, renal or chronic lung disease.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly recommending individuals over 70 years of age and those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions self-isolate. This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons.

Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Many of these symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza. Should you experience these symptoms, avoid contact with others and you should use this Ontario Ministry of Health self-assessment tool.

A number of dedicated assessment centres have been established across the Greater Toronto Region to facilitate assessment and testing. Information on locations is available on local public health websites including Toronto and Peel Region.

If you are advised by a public health authority that you have tested positive for COVID-19, please contact ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca immediately. 

As usual, continue to practice good hand washing techniques and hygiene practices. This includes washing thoroughly with soap and water, using hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and staying at home or in your residence room if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Practice social distancing, including waiting for the next elevator or taking the stairs, using a less busy hallway and allowing others to pass before proceeding.

For those who are required to be on campus, the university supports the use of personal non-medical masks. 

Wearing a non-medical mask (for example a homemade cloth mask) in the community may prevent an asymptomatic carrier of the disease from infecting others but has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. Strict hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical (social) distancing, refraining from going out if you are symptomatic and/or have been exposed to a confirmed case, will reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus. Do not use medical masks designed for health-care workers if you choose to wear a mask. 

Self-isolation means staying home. Do not use public transportation, taxis, or rideshares, attend work, school or other public places. Contact with others should be limited as much as possible. For more information, please see the Public Health Ontario tip sheet on self-isolation.

Public health authorities advise that COVID-19 spreads through direct, close, person-to-person contact with droplets from someone who is infected with the virus through their cough or sneeze. It may also be possible for people to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. See FAQ #4.4 on how you can protect yourself and FAQ #1.4 on cleaning.

The University follows public health directives regarding who should be informed when someone tests positive for COVID-19. Each situation is assessed by public health authorities to identify individuals who have been exposed and need to be contacted and to ensure medical confidentiality. If you did not have close contact with a confirmed case as assessed by a public health authority there is no elevated risk to you and your family.

Everyone should be monitoring themselves for flu-like symptoms and should follow best practices for protecting against transmission. (FAQ #4.4.)

If you are advised by a public health authority that you have tested positive for COVID-19, please contact ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca immediately. 

Information by Faculty

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Contacts

Telehealth Ontario

Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Phone: 1-866-797-0000

TTY: 1-866-797-0007

University of Toronto Health Services (for students)

St. George Campus Health & Wellness Centre: 416-978-8030

UTM Health & Counselling Centre: 905-828-5255

UTSC Health & Wellness Centre: 416-287-7065

Toronto Public Health Hotline

Hotline: 416-338-7600

Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 8pm and weekends from 10am to 6pm. Translation available.