UTogether

Frequently asked questions

Page last updated: Dec. 16, 2021, 11:35 a.m. ET (updated 1.1, 1.8, 1.9, 2.3 and 3.3)

1. Students

Effective Dec. 16, 2021, in-person exams will not be proceeding.

Online tests and exams will proceed as planned. Campuses and divisions will be reaching out to students and instructors to confirm arrangements for each course that had planned in-person tests and exams. Exams may be modified to another delivery mode or cancelled.

Most classes will resume on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 (with some beginning earlier). However, in-person learning for all courses – graduate and undergraduate – will be delayed until Monday, Jan. 31, 2022 (with the exception of some in-person practica, as well as courses in the health sciences, which will resume as planned). Again, campuses, divisions and departments will be reaching out to students and instructors to confirm arrangements.

All members of the U of T community must still upload proof of vaccination to UCheck if attending campus for any reason in the winter term.

With the latest provincial announcement, all employees should work remotely until Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, with the exception of those who must work on campus, such as employees who support operations, construction and ancillary services, who provide in-person student support, or who are needed for specific in-person research activities.

Alternative work arrangements will need to be in place beyond Jan. 31 for staff roles in any hybrid capacity - i.e., employees planning to work any portion of the work week remotely.

Regardless of whether roles are required on campus or can work remotely, all employees must upload proof of vaccination to UCheck. All employees are expected to be working near their campus, unless approval is obtained in advance to work outside of Ontario.

 

Graduate and professional students can visit the School of Graduate Studies Looking Ahead page for information and frequently-asked-questions on research recovery and adaptation, various programs types, personal accommodations, and financial support. You can also check your Faculty site or contact your Department’s Graduate Chair.

Please visit this FAQ for international students for information. For information about U of T support for students during quarantine, please visit the Vice-Provost Students web site.

Students continue to have access to a range of student services.

Please visit the Sports & Recreation page and the Hart House page for more information.

For campus-specific programming, please refer to the following pages:

Please visit your Faculty’s site for information specific to your program. You can also contact your divisional registrar.

You can find information on technical requirements, adaptive technology, recommended accessories, and internet connectivity on this page. The page also includes an FAQ. 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.

Given that Global Affairs Canada has changed the world-wide travel advisory to “avoid non-essential,” as of Dec. 15, 2021, all University-sanctioned activities outside of Canada are cancelled for U of T students, until further notice. 

If you are a PhD student looking to conduct thesis related research outside of Canada – if you can defer your travel, please do so at this time; otherwise please contact safety.abroad@utoronto.ca to discuss your options.

We’ll continue to update this page with the most current information we have.

Residences currently scheduled to be open over the winter break will remain open. All residences will be open as scheduled in January.  Students that choose to leave campus, should take, at minimum, essential items to continue their education, including laptops, textbooks and important papers.

For details regarding on-campus student services, including sports and recreation, please visit the websites of U of T Sport & Recreation, Hart House, St. George Student Life, UTM Student Services and UTSC Student Services.

Some libraries will remain open with limited hours over the holiday break to ensure students have access to the internet and computers as well as access to print research collections.

U of T students continue to have access to all electronic resources available through the library’s catalogue, including e-booksonline journal article databasesprimary source databases and streaming videos. Students can also log into a library computer remotely to use specialized software, including data analysis and design tools.

For details on operating hours, please visit the University of Toronto Libraries website.

2. Faculty, librarians and staff

If you have HR-related questions about COVID-19 or plans for fall 2021, please visit the HR & Equity COVID-19 website.

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

Employees in the workplace who are ill with flu-like symptoms should stay home; advise their Manager, Chair, or Department Head; visit the UCheck web portal to complete a self-assessment; and seek out medical advice accordingly.

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.

Residences currently scheduled to be open over the winter break will remain open. All residences will be open as scheduled in January.  Students that choose to leave campus, should take, at minimum, essential items to continue their education, including laptops, textbooks and important papers.

For details regarding on-campus student services, including sports and recreation, please visit the websites of U of T Sport & Recreation, Hart House, St. George Student Life, UTM Student Services and UTSC Student Services.

Some libraries will remain open with limited hours over the holiday break to ensure students have access to the internet and computers as well as access to print research collections.

U of T students continue to have access to all electronic resources available through the library’s catalogue, including e-booksonline journal article databasesprimary source databases and streaming videos. Students can also log into a library computer remotely to use specialized software, including data analysis and design tools.

For details on operating hours, please visit the University of Toronto Libraries website.

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

The Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation has a range of resources available, including on planning for teaching online/remotely next term. The Quercus Support Resources page may also be useful as you plan. Finally, you may wish to consult your divisional head for additional guidance and resources. The University has also made recommendations to students on minimal technical requirements needed to access remote/online learning.

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).
  • 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. 

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).

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 the foreseeable future that cannot be hosted remotely.

3. Health and safety

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  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.  

Please visit this Ontario Ministry of Health web site for information and resources.

A variant of concern (VOC) is a mutation of the COVID-19 virus that has changed in a way that affects at least one of the following: the severity of the illness, how easily the virus is spread or the effectiveness of a vaccine or diagnostic test.

Of the known variants of the virus, four are now considered VOCs.

Since Feb. 3, 2021, the Public Health Ontario Laboratory (PHOL) has been performing additional testing on all positive COVID-19 laboratory tests to determine if they screen positive for a VOC.

Provincial regulation and public health guidance now require that post-secondary institutions implement COVID-19 health screening for anyone coming to campus. This means that all members of our community, including faculty members, librarians, staff, and students, must complete a self-assessment each day they visit any one of the three U of T campuses or any other property owned or operated by U of T.  There are two ways to complete the required self-assessment and generate a risk status each time you come to U of T: by using UCheck, or by completing a paper-based or offline self-assessment log. Please visit this COVID-19 self-assessments page for more information.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • chills
  • cough that's new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
  • barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
  • shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
  • sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
  • lost sense of taste or smell
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • headache that’s unusual or long-lasting
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
  • muscle aches
  • extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
  • falling down often
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite

Many of these symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza. Even mild symptoms may be significant.

All members of our community are encouraged to complete a self-assessment for COVID-19 systems using the university’s UCheck self-assessment portal before they leave their residence room or come to campus. Those who are not coming to campus are also encouraged to complete the self-assessment regularly as a way to monitor their health.  

Should you experience these symptoms, even if mild, avoid contact with others and follow the advice provided on the UCheck web portal. More resources are also available on the Ontario Ministry of Health web site.  You can also take a self-assessment on this Ministry of Health site.

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 live in other regions you can find your local health unit here.

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

Everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing, etc.) should stay home, not work, self-isolate and complete a self-assessment using the UCheck web portal. Even mild symptoms may be significant. Please be sure to accurately note any and all symptoms when you complete the UCheck health screen questionnaire, in order to keep our community safe.

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 live in other regions you can find your local health unit here: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx

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

Yes. Our caretaking staff is increasing the frequency of cleaning of high touch-points areas, such as handrails, door handles, elevator buttons and public counters, and installing more hand sanitizing stations in all buildings. Learn more about how U of T is preparing for a safe return to campus.

Cleaning protocols are based on public health guidance.

Please see section 4 of this page for questions pertaining to masks.

As usual, continue to practice good hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control 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 physical distancing, including waiting for the next elevator or taking the stairs, using a less busy hallway and allowing others to pass before proceeding.

Guidance from public health authorities indicates that passing encounters such as walking by someone with COVID-19 or being briefly in the same room at less than two meters is not be considered a close contact and does not put you at an increased risk of Infection. 

Those with symptoms should stay home.

4. Masks

Yes. The University has implemented a Policy on Face Masks requiring non-medical masks to be worn indoors in all common-use spaces on our three campuses and on University premises off campus. This policy is consistent with provincial regulations. Please refer to the guideline for additional details. 

Public health authorities recommend that a non-medical mask be used to reduce community transmission of COVID-19, especially when physical distancing may be challenging or not possible. Such use can protect others if the wearer of the mask is infectious. While those with symptoms should stay home, there are cases of transmission of disease from asymptomatic individuals.

Public Health authorities recommend using a well-fitting mask, preferably with three layers.

Masks with exhalation valves are not recommended because they are not designed to filter exhaled virus particles or respiratory droplets. This means droplets from a person can be spread in a room, reducing the benefit of the mask. For those who must use a mask with an exhaust valve as part of a medical accommodation, employees should contact their supervisor or divisional HR Office and students should contact their academic lead and Student Accessibility Services.

In general, masks are preferred to face shields.

A face shield is an extra layer of protection that is usually used in clinical settings in combination with a mask. It does not offer the same kind of protection as a mask because it does not fit securely around the chin, mouth and nose. The benefits of using a face shield on its own without a mask to either provide personal protection or reduce community transmission are unclear, although shields should certainly provide some protection.

If instructors have recommended that masks are not required in their learning and teaching environment, then instructors and students in that class may wear a face shield. Also, if an individual has a medical, religious, or other circumstance requiring accommodation, then that person may wear a face shield instead of a mask. The University has a supply of face shields available for these situations as well as for clinical settings.

The policy applies to lobbies, elevators, hallways and corridors, stairwells, washrooms, service desks, cafeterias and lunchrooms, common areas in residences, study lounges, meeting rooms, classrooms, research and teaching labs, shared or open-space offices, and other locations used in common, including where practising physical distancing may be difficult or unpredictable.

The provincial government requires the use of masks outside any time that physical distancing is not possible.

Certain activities and individuals are exempt from this policy, as outlined in the guideline.

As noted in 4.5 (above), the policy applies to research and teaching labs. Medical-grade masks (unlike the non-medical masks distributed to U of T students, faculty and staff members) may be required for protective purposes in some labs, as recommended by the Environmental Health & Safety office. Masks used in labs where there are flammable materials present will need to meet certain safety standards. For questions regarding what is appropriate for certain lab environments, please review FAQ 4.5 and 4.6 on the VPRI Research FAQ page or contact Environmental Health & Safety at ehs.ppe@utoronto.ca.

Non-medical masks are not required in certain situations, such as:

  • When an individual is required to wear personal protective equipment in lieu of a non-medical mask, as determined by the U of T Environmental Health & Safety office.
  • When wearing a non-medical mask would create a risk to the individual related to their work, as determined by the University’s workplace safety guidelines.
  • When eating or drinking.
  • In learning and teaching environments if and when the instructor recommends that non-medical masks are not required on the basis that wearing them would materially impair the effectiveness of the learning activity, and where the learning activity can be carried out safely.

For a full list of exemptions and accommodations, please refer to the guideline.

We know that some members of our community have conditions that place them at higher risk. If you have concerns, there may be other measures that can be taken for accommodation. Contact Environmental Health & Safety at ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca.

The policy requires non-medical masks to be worn indoors in all common-use spaces on University property, including by instructors in classrooms.

Non-medical masks will not be required in learning and teaching environments if an instructor recommends an exception on the basis that wearing masks would materially impair the effectiveness of the learning activity. If instructors recommend that masks are not required in a particular class, they must ensure that the learning activities are carried out safely according to public health and University guidance, following the procedures outlined in the Teaching Re-Entry Planning section of the University’s COVID-19 Leadership Toolkit.

This policy will remain in effect as long as Ontario public health authorities recommend that mask-wearing is necessary in indoor public spaces. It is subject to change and extension at the discretion of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto as public health guidance and understanding about COVID-19 evolves.

5. Vaccines

Yes. The University of Toronto requires that all those intending to be present on our campuses be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. All members of our community are required to upload proof of vaccination via UCheck

Children under 12 taking part in activities on campus are not subject to the vaccine requirement at this time. The University will continue to monitor vaccination rollout for children aged 5-11 in the coming months.

Those seeking an exemption to the vaccination requirement (for medical reasons or other grounds protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code) can request approval via U of T’s Enterprise Service Centre (ServiceNow). Forms are available and completed requests can be uploaded for review.  

The deadline for submitting an exemption request for the winter term has now passed. Members of our community who are unvaccinated and do not have an approved exemption are not permitted to come to campus.

Those who have an approved exemption or are not fully vaccinated (i.e., partially vaccinated but not yet 14 days past their second or final shot) must participate in the University’s rapid screening program, provide proof of a negative test before coming to campus and may be required to observe additional public health measures. See 5.10 below for more information on the rapid screening program. 

Visitors to U of T campuses are also required to be fully vaccinated. Visitors should complete the visitor form, which includes a vaccination attestation. The University reserves the right to ask for vaccination information if this information is needed. Depending on their activity, visitors may be asked to show proof of vaccination and identification as required by provincial regulations.

These measures follow the guidance from the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health and the Chief Medical Officer of Health and have been put in place in consultation with local public health units and experts in the field.

Please refer to the guideline for additional details (PDF).

Staff, faculty, librarians and students can upload vaccine information via UCheck. You can also watch a short video tutorial on how to upload your proof of vaccination here.

If your most recent provincial vaccination receipt shows that you have received two doses, then this is the only document you need to upload. If your most recent vaccination receipt does not have the full information regarding both vaccines, upload both receipts. What you will need:

  • Documentation in .PDF, .JPG, .PNG, .GIF format. Documents do not need to be high resolution, but all details (e.g., your full name, name of vaccine and date administered) must be present on the document and readable.
  • If you were vaccinated in Canada, upload your provincial vaccination receipt.
  • If you were vaccinated outside of Canada, upload your vaccination receipts or letters from your physician, hospital, or government agency that includes your name, the specific vaccination(s) and date(s) received. If your documentation is in another language, please provide an English translation and upload both the original document and the translation.

No. If you upload documents showing you are fully vaccinated, you will not be asked again. For those who are only partially vaccinated, you will continue to be given opportunity to upload your vaccine documents until you show you are fully vaccinated.

If you received instructions to upload your proof of vaccination via Star Rez or Service Now, you should do so as soon as possible. Once UCheck is ready, you will also be required to also upload your vaccine documents showing full vaccination in UCheck.

Exemption requests will be carefully reviewed by the University. Please note that approval is not guaranteed.

Medical reasons

The Ontario Ministry of Health recently indicated only two reasons for a medical exemption:

  • Severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or any of the components. In this case, see an allergist or immunologist before submitting your form. 
  • Myocarditis or pericarditis after the first dose.

If you have experienced one of the above, submit a form signed by a licensed medical practitioner (Nurse/Nurse Practitioner, Physician/Surgeon who has your complete health history and can easily confirm that you are unable to be vaccinated due to a medical condition).

If you are unable to see your usual medical provider, you will need to provide consent for university health providers to verify medical information.

Exemption for creed/religious reasons

  • You will be required to submit a form signed by you (or your parent or legal guardian, if you are under the age of 18) and sworn by a Commissioner of Oaths or Notary.
  • Please note that a singular belief or personal preference against vaccination is not protected on the ground of creed under the Ontario Human Rights Code.  

If you have not previously applied for an exemption on medical or religious/creed grounds, and are requesting an exemption for the Winter term, please submit your request by Nov. 15, 2021, to the Vaccine Exemption Portal.  Students who have already applied for an exemption (i.e., living in residence) will continue that process.

You will receive notification of the result of the review by email.

Individuals with approved exemptions will be required to enroll in the University of Toronto Rapid Screening program and upload test results to UCheck. They may also be subject to additional public health measures.

Public Health authorities, including Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health, recommend that people who have already had COVID-19 should get vaccinated as soon as they have recovered. Getting vaccinated offers better and more reliable protection than any natural immunity resulting from an COVID-19 infection.

The University will support those who are not yet vaccinated to make arrangements to get vaccinated. 

Those who have received their first dose but are not yet fully vaccinated are required to participate in the University’s rapid screening program and provide proof of negative tests before coming to campus (see 5.4 below for more information on the rapid screening program). They will also receive public health guidance on how to modify their activities to protect themselves and others, and support to become fully vaccinated.  

Those who have applied for and received a permitted exemption to the vaccination requirement will also need to participate in the University’s rapid screening program and provide proof of negative tests before coming to campus. They will also receive public health guidance on how to modify their activities to protect themselves and others.  

Those who do not receive an approved exemption and who do not have their first vaccine dose cannot come to campus. 

Vaccine approvals are subject to change. If you are immunized with a vaccine that has not been approved by Health Canada, the University will work with you based on current health-care guidance and help facilitate immunization with an approved vaccine. You may wish to speak to your local health-care provider for guidance if you have questions.  

Health Canada also provides guidance for those who are partially or fully vaccinated with a non-Health Canada approved vaccine

For more information regarding vaccine clinics and resources, please see the UTogether COVID-19 vaccines page

The University is doing all it can to support members of the community to get vaccinated, by creating opportunities to get vaccinated on campus and helping to inform those who are vaccine hesitant. For the very few people who decide not to comply with the vaccine mandate, consequences include prohibition from attending University premises. For students, noncompliance may also constitute an offence under the Code of Student Conduct. Employees may also be subject to consequences up to and including the termination of employment. 

For more information, please refer to the Guideline on Vaccination

Students, faculty, staff and librarians who are not yet vaccinated due to an approved exemption (i.e. medical, religious) or are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated must register in the University’s rapid screening program.  

You will be provided with an at-home, rapid screening kit, along with a video that explains how the kit works. These kits are provided by the provincial Ministry of Health at no cost to those participating in the rapid screening program. You will be expected to screen yourself at home at least twice a week and will be required to take of photo of your test result and upload it to the UCheck app. A negative test result must be uploaded before you come to campus.  

If you screen positive, you must notify the occupational health nurses at ehs.occhealth@utoronto.ca. They will refer you for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result, provide guidance on self-isolation and arrange supports as needed. 

You will no longer have to use the rapid screening kit once you become fully vaccinated, unless you experience COVID-like symptoms. 

U of T community members who are fully vaccinated but have reason to engage in regular rapid antigen screening can also enrol in the rapid screening program.   

More information will soon be available on the UTogether rapid screening page.  

The University’s Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) staff will have access to proof of vaccination documentation for verification, which will be disclosed through a secure database that is approved to hold the most confidential data assets at the University, including health information. It requires the highest level of confidentiality and has rigorous security requirements to safeguard data protection. The vaccine status of faculty, staff, and librarians may also be accessed by a limited number of University Human Resources personnel and administrators on a need-to-know basis for the purpose of verifying that employees are complying with the University’s vaccine guidelines. This process complies with all provincial privacy standards for health information. 

Yes! The University has supported the province’s vaccination efforts by supplying space and volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine clinics on its three campuses, in partnership with local hospitals. So far, more than 400,000 doses have been administered at the U of T-hosted vaccination sites and pop-ups. 

More information on how to book a vaccination on campus is available on the UTogether vaccine page

Since the beginning of the pandemic, U of T has worked to refine its strategies in response to evolving provincial and public health guidance.  

The University’s approach aligns with the recent recommendation of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health for post-secondary institutions in the province that all individuals involved in any in-person campus activities be fully vaccinated with proof of vaccination except for those who cannot be vaccinated due to a permitted exemption.  This approach is Ontario wide and applies to all Colleges and Universities.

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