English universities mull fall plans as UdeM moves many classes online

A large portion of Universite de Montreal courses in the fall will be held at a distance with only a portion of courses at the university held on campus.

UdeM rector Guy Breton sent a letter to staff and students Friday saying that in the interest of public health during the COVID-19 crisis, and the preparation demands for the fall term, the university will follow the lead of other universities across the continent and go online.

“We are not alone in this challenge: almost all universities in Canada and the United States are starting preparations for an autumn, most of which are at a distance,” wrote Breton.

McGill and Concordia Universities and the Universite du Quebec a Montreal are all evaluating the situation and have not come to a definitive decision of how fall courses will be conducted, according to information on their websites.

Breton’s letter said UdeM’s plan will include three rules:

  1. Any teaching that can be done at a distance should be done at a distance.
  2. On-campus training activities must be reduced in number and chosen carefully.
  3. Teaching methods will be flexible with some sessions remotely and others on campus in front of all or some students.

“We will have to strictly prioritize the activities allowed in the classroom, taking into account the particularities of the different types of education,” wrote Breton. “Activities that are difficult, if not impossible, to perform at a distance, such as clinical placements, teaching laboratories, certain learning assessments and, more generally, practical training will be given priority for face-to-face services.”

Breton writes that he knows two-metre physical distancing will be difficult, but to comply the institution will limit classroom capacity to around 20 per cent. For example, the 566-seat Jean-Lesage amphitheatre will now have a maximum capacity of 100.

The university plans on increasing production of fully online courses and tech tools, and will release a list of the courses that will be online by the end of the month.

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