Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi announced Wednesday that the university will commence a gradual return to campus on Jan. 31 with the expectation to return fully in-person a month later. Lachemi hopes the university community will welcome this move and “see it as an opportunity to begin a post-pandemic way of living, learning and working,” but Ryerson community members have mixed feelings.
A contract lecturer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the precarity of their employment, is hesitant and fearful of this eventual Rams reunification.
“We’re scared,” they said. “Contract lecturers are precariously employed workers who don’t have much say in how things go. There is a general sense that our comfort and safety are not a factor in the university’s decision-making. All anyone wants is for our school community to be safe.”
The contract lecturer believes that a full return to in-person learning could lead to a serious outbreak. “Some may be able to shake it off, but what about students and staff who live with immunocompromised family or roommates? What about those of us who wouldn’t shake it off?” they said. “We all miss life before the pandemic but cramming into classrooms would be unsafe. Let’s make in-person access work for those who need to be in labs or use on-campus equipment. Classes that can remain via Zoom should remain via Zoom.”
Olivia Raponi, a third-year business management student, echoes the contract lecturer’s sentiments.
“I feel that having one final online semester would be beneficial. We have already adapted to this way of learning, so why not just finish it off and start fresh when everything calms down?,” Raponi said. “Being anxious to go to class knowing that you can be exposed at any minute is an added stress to the already stressful school workload.”
Lachemi explained in his message released on Wednesday that the school’s commitment to health and safety continues to guide their decisions. “Recent updates from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health indicate that the number of cases resulting in hospitalizations and ICU stays are decelerating and we are beginning to see a decline in test positivity slowing,” the message said.
“This progress, coupled with the practices and policies included in Ryerson’s multi-layered approach to safety on campus enable us to welcome back our students, faculty and staff.”
Similar to Raponi, Sara Martini, a third-year accounting and finance student said she’s not looking forward to the return to campus this winter semester. This is partly due to the comfortable lifestyle online schooling has provided, but she also has concerns around logistics.
“My biggest concern is whether those who test positive for COVID-19 will still have access to online classes to stay on track of their work,” said Martini. “I know I wouldn’t want to fall behind because I got COVID-19 from being on campus. A 10 day quarantine would certainly result in many students falling behind in their studies. Especially those who need to be at school to do labs.”
While some are worried about the return to in-person learning, others are excited to get back to Yonge and Gould. Second-year business management student Adriano Santilli is thrilled about the prospect of going back to in-person learning. Santilli is already halfway through his second year at Ryerson and has never been on campus.
While Santilli’s desire is to get the traditional experience, he would still tolerate another semester online. “Although it would be exciting, I would be happy to return to online school for the winter semester, even though I feel that I have missed out on the opportunity to meet new people and experience the city.”
Julian Beltrano is a journalism student at Ryerson University who lives in Woodbridge, Ontario. Julian is 22-years-old and is passionate about telling stories and writing about unique topics. Prior to entering the journalism program, Julian was unsure as to what he wanted in a future career as he considered programs from various fields. Currently, Julian works as a customer service representative at Winners and has shown interest in becoming a high school English teacher.