By Heidi Lee
Ryerson students say they feel it’s unlikely classes will return in-person for the rest of the winter 2022 semester and are expressing frustration with the university’s last-minute communications.
Ryerson announced on Wednesday that the school is expecting a full return to in-person class by Feb. 28, once again pushing back the school’s in-person start date.
“The return to in-person learning will be program and faculty-specific,” the announcement reads. “Further guidance and information for students will be provided by departments in the days ahead.”
Nisha Sidhu, a final-year graphic communications management student, said she thinks the decision is “just a little too late because classes have already started” and that she would prefer classes stay virtual throughout the rest of the semester.
“I feel it’s just better for school to stay online for now until the start of summer or fall, maybe cases will go down at least by then,” said Sidhu. “Omicron cases are fluctuating and it’s just scary to step out, plus the snowstorm. It’s just a rough start of the winter semester.”
“Many people are tired of the uncertainty and people right now just want certainty”
Gianluca Russo, a fourth-year criminology student, said many students are upset about the announcement because of its vague messaging.
“Many people are tired of the uncertainty and people right now just want certainty,” said Russo. “A better way to have done it is to wait a day or two for the faculties to decide when they’re going back and then send the message. Don’t just send this vague, quite pointless message.”
The announcement also stated that the decision was made in “the best interest of students,” however, many students feel the opposite.
Russo added that he thinks the announcement will present problems for international students and students who need to find accommodations to live in Toronto.
“Now they don’t know when to go back. Do you find a place by the 31st, and then who knows? What if you don’t have class until the 20th? That’s going to be a waste of money for them.”
For second-year biomedical student Maggie Jamieson, the announcement is terrifying.
“I live with both my grandparents and I feel like the health and safety of the students, as well as their families and the community at large, are not prioritized,” said Jamieson. “My biggest fear is that I will contract the virus and bring it home to my grandparents.”
Toronto Public Health announced on Jan. 18 that there have been at least 264,443 COVID-19 cases, with 1,293 newly added cases. While 432 people are hospitalized, there are 7 new deaths and 2,519 new recoveries.
Giselle Franco, a fourth-year psychology student, said it is disappointing to continue online school, but she prefers it to in-person learning because of the Omicron variant.
“I guess this is the first time that I’m actually kind of happy the school chose to stay online, at least for this month,” said Franco.
“Considering we’re halfway through the month already and it doesn’t look like the situation with the variant is getting any better, I’m kind of hoping that we stay online for longer than January.”
“I feel like the health and safety of the students, as well as their families and the community at large, are not prioritized”
Franco said she understands there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 situation, but she hopes the school can improve its communication with students.
“I have a lot of sympathy for international students and students that don’t live in the city,” she said. “It’s tougher for them because if they have to move back here for in-person classes, they don’t really have a lot of time to make those arrangements since announcements are very last minute.”
Second-year politics and governance student Larry Krimus said he doesn’t think students will return to campus this semester as Ontario’s cases continue to reach record numbers.
“If we don’t go back by midterms, I think we probably won’t go back at all because it will be just too chaotic to navigate everything on campus like halfway through the year.”
“International students and out-of-province students don’t really have a lot of time to make those arrangements since announcements are very last minute”
Krimus added that he was disappointed with the school’s decision to return to online course delivery in January when he first heard about the announcement.
“I’ve been tired of having my entire university experience online,” he said. “I can kind of understand where they’re coming from because the new variant is really contagious, but at the same time, it’s really frustrating that I will be going through another year online never stepping foot into a classroom.”
When classes do return in-person, Krimus said Ryerson should be transparent about all COVID-19 case reports, not just how it’s following the province’s safety guidelines.
“If students have an in-person class, the school should warn them about the people who are in the classroom that have been exposed.”
He added that he hopes the school will add an option for students to take classes online, so in cases where students tested positive, or feel unsafe commuting to campus, the course could still carry on as planned.