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University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson move classes online in response to COVID-19

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario to shut down schools for 2 weeks after March Break to stop spread of COVID-19
WATCH: Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce confirmed on Thursday that the province would shut down all public schools for a total of three weeks, including two weeks following March break, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University say they will be moving all classes to an online format amid coronavirus concerns.

All three universities made the announcement on Friday, each citing the health and safety of staff and students over the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The situation is now accelerating very rapidly,” University of Toronto president Meric Gertler said in a statement.

“We have decided to cancel all in-person undergraduate and research-stream masters and doctoral courses across U of T’s three campuses, and we will provide that teaching by other means,” Gertler said.

The statement went on to say that the decision is effective starting Monday and will continue until the end of classes on April 3.

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However, Gertler said all three campuses will remain open and university operations will continue.

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Also open on all three campuses are libraries, residences, food services, health and wellness centres, athletics and recreation facilities and other public spaces.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — All publicly funded schools in Ontario closing for 2 weeks due to COVID-19

York University also said that starting on Monday, it “will be suspending all face-to-face instruction and moving courses to online formats.”

“In light of the developments we have seen at home and around the world this week, it is time for the university to enter a new phase in its comprehensive response,” York University president Rhonda Lenton said in a statement.

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Starting Friday night at midnight, the university said it will be cancelling or postponing all non-essential events that are not required as part of an academic program.

“We are committed to completing the term and will deploy all of our resources to support faculty and students through this transition,” Lenton said.

Lenton added that the university will be introducing new policies on working from home and doctor’s notes.

“I know this is an anxious and upsetting time for everyone. Let me say, without reservation, that York will be there to support every member of the community as we face this pandemic together.”

READ MORE: CN Tower to close until April 14 amid coronavirus concerns

Ryerson University is also following the same protocol, moving students to online learning.

“The university will be shifting all in-person classes to virtual and other alternative forms of delivery,” Ryerson University president Mohamed Lachemi said in a statement. “As of today, all exams will also be conducted by alternate methods.”

“The week of March 16 will be a week of transition for the university, allowing faculty and staff time to explore and implement alternate forms of program delivery. All courses will have these alternate arrangements finalized by Monday, March 23. Students will be hearing from their departments on course delivery during the week of March 16,” Lachemi said.

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The university is also looking at alternate options for end-of-year exams.