Limiting the Spread of COVID-19 Omicron Variant: Immediate Steps

As many of you are aware, the federal and provincial governments have made a series of announcements regarding efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in light of the new Omicron variant of concern. All Ontarians are being asked to assist with limiting spread by reducing the number of social gatherings, obtaining their third dose when eligible, and allowing employees to work from home where possible. As we have learned throughout the pandemic, we all have a role to play as individuals and as a University community to support public health in our communities. It is equally important to remember that we have experienced much uncertainty in the recent past and we have relied on expert advice, flexibility, and innovation to continue delivering on our academic mission.

As a result of recent government announcements, we are implementing some changes beginning tomorrow.

Classes and Exams

Effective tomorrow, December 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, January 10, 2022 (with some beginning earlier). However, in-person learning for all courses – graduate and undergraduate – will be delayed until Monday, January 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.

Working Remotely

With the latest provincial announcement, all employees should work remotely until Monday, January 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 January 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.

Outbound Travel

The federal government has issued a global travel advisory advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada. Individuals who may be required to travel for work-related reasons should confirm existing travel restrictions including travel advisories, flight availability, and local border restrictions which may prohibit entry to the destination country. In addition, travellers must be fully vaccinated by completing a COVID-19 vaccine series in Canada at least 14 days before travelling.

Travellers are encouraged to review resources available to the University community through International SOS as part of their pre-departure processes. We will be in touch as needed with students engaged in learning abroad in January 2022.

Inbound Travel

Inbound travel is also subject to additional restrictions, including preventing entry to foreign nationals who have been in specific countries for 14 days prior to entry. Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have been to these countries will be subject to enhanced testing, screening, and quarantine measures upon re-entry to Canada.

Until January 14, 2022, those travelling to Canada who are not fully vaccinated with a Health Canada or WHO vaccine may be permitted to enter but will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

Effective January 15, 2022, all foreign nationals must be fully vaccinated in order to enter Canada. This includes international students over the age of 18 and temporary foreign workers with valid work permits. Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated will be prohibited from entering Canada unless they fall under one of the limited exemptions including some children under the age of 18, new permanent residents, and agricultural workers. Exempt unvaccinated travellers will continue to be subject to testing, quarantine, and other entry requirements.

Residences, Sports & Recreation

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

We appreciate the stress that these rapidly changing circumstances may have on members of our community. We will continue to update you with information to support your current activities and decisions about winter plans.

Wellness

U of T’s My Student Support Program (My SSP) provides students with real-time and/or appointment-based confidential, 24-hour support for any school, health, or general life concern at no cost.

The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is available to employees of the University of Toronto. This program is provided at no cost 24/7 and 365 days a year. Call toll free 1-800-663-1142. Employees can access the following resources through the EFAP:

Questions?

  • Students – please contact your registrar’s office regarding your courses and academic programs
  • Faculty and librarians – please contact your Dean, Chair, Director, or Supervisor
  • Staff – please contact your manager and/or divisional HR office