March 16, 2021

Canadian universities to return to in-person classes this fall

A list of some Canadian universities and their fall plans for students.

With promises that Canadians will be vaccinated by the end of September this year, post-secondary institutions are more confident that it will be safe to return to in-person classes for the fall semester.

The return to in-person learning activities depends partially on the public health authority, as well as each institution’s administration. At this point, those universities that have officially announced fall returns have also said they will monitor the threat of coronavirus, and act accordingly to keep students and staff safe.

Under the current travel restrictions, international students are allowed to come to Canada as long as they are going to an institution with a COVID-19 readiness plan. Canada’s travel restrictions are expected to be updated for U.S. residents later this month, and in mid April for the rest of the world.

A November 2020 Statistics Canada report shows that roughly two-thirds of new international student enrolments at Canadian post-secondaries in the 2018-19 school year were at universities. Here is a look at some of the Canadian universities that have plans to welcome students back to campus, and some that plan to make their official announcements soon.


The University of Toronto is aiming to allow in-person instruction and supports for students in the fall. Faculty, staff, and librarians are expected to return to campus. Students can do research on campus, with certain safety measures.

Brock University is planning to offer as many courses on campus as possible, including labs and other experiential learning, graduate seminars and undergraduate classes, according to a media release.

The University of Ottawa expects to provide a full on-campus experience, offering more courses in person or in “hybrid formats.” The university will equip classrooms with technology that will allow for simultaneous in-person and video conferencing teaching, CBC reports.

Western University is planning to return to face-to-face instruction, and offer more on-campus activities.

The University of Windsor is also planning a measured return to face-to-face programming and on-campus activities in fall 2021.

Prince Edward Island

The University of Prince Edward Island is expected to return to a “more normal” teaching and learning environment this fall, CBC reports.


Quebec has previously announced that universities and CEGEPs could gradually return to in-person instruction one day a week. Physical distancing measures must be respected both in and out of class, and that students and staff must wear government-issued face masks at all times.

McGill University is expecting to return to in-person classes in September. Some courses will continue to incorporate online teaching, but the university says students and staff should prepare to return to “more regular rhythms” of on-campus activity.

Concordia University is planning for an announcement about the fall term in May, but is considering offering a mix of in-person and online classes, Global reports.

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