Announcement on Fall Term 2020

Over the last several weeks, the University of Alberta has been turning its attention to Fall 2020.

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Over the last several weeks, the University of Alberta has been turning its attention to Fall 2020 — a term that we look forward to with anticipation. We are emerging from a period of rapid change, as we’ve worked quickly to respond to COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of our community. My thanks to every member of the U of A community for their commitment and hard work over the last several weeks. This effort has brought us together with shared purpose, even as we’ve had to maintain our physical distance. It is with this sense of purpose and dedication that we have begun the preparations for welcoming incoming and current students to a new academic year in September.

As always, our commitment is to provide a high-quality learning experience for our students, and to maximize university research and service activities. At the same time, our top priority must be ensuring the health and safety of our community.

Fall Term 2020: Mostly online and remote instruction, with some in-person learning opportunities

Every fall, we welcome thousands of students to the University of Alberta and September 2020 will be no different. What will be different is the mix of learning experiences that we offer to suit the various needs of our students. While some students may be close to campus, we also recognize that not all of our students may be able to return to campus in September. Our goal is to create robust, high-quality learning opportunities for all.

In September 2020, the majority of our classes will be delivered remotely and online. However, where possible, we are committed to providing small group in-person learning and experiential learning such as labs and clinical instruction, especially in those programs where in-person instruction is essential. In cases where students cannot join activities in-person, we commit that alternate arrangements will be made so that progress in programs can continue.

A quality learning environment is a safe learning environment. Yesterday, we spoke with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health which has given us a much better perspective on conditions and restrictions that will likely remain in the fall. That meeting helped to inform our decision to continue with delivering the majority of instruction online, with a mix of other learning opportunities where possible. Throughout our planning, we will continue to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education and the CMO to ensure that we are meeting public health and safety guidelines. As the fall term progresses, we must be prepared to be flexible.

This decision allows our community to deal with some of our current uncertainty. Students and instructors can now move forward with planning and decision making knowing the direction we’ve set.

Nurturing student life and support both on and off campus

Just as we will find the best and safest mix for our learning environments, we will continue to foster the fullest university life experience possible for our students both on and off campus. We will seek new opportunities to connect students and support our community virtually so that everyone can feel a U of A circle of support whether they are able to be in Alberta this September or not.

A vibrant learning experience includes a host of services and activities that create and support student life and success. From financial assistance and academic accommodations to career counselling and fostering mental wellness, student services across the university are currently available online for students, helping them navigate changes to their learning environments. As public health directives allow, our physical campus spaces will gradually open, offering a growing number of in-person services, such as libraries, computer labs, and retail services.

Subject to Chief Medical Officer directives residences will be available for incoming students in the Fall of 2020 and the Winter of 2021. We also will have accommodation packages for students arriving who may need self-isolation. This applies to students wishing to live in residence as well as students, faculty and staff returning to Edmonton and Camrose from international locations.

Gradual research ramp up starts later this month

In addition to these plans, we have also been preparing the gradual resumption of research activities on campus that were required to shut down or move off campus in March. Starting as early as this month, when the necessary safeguards and supplies are in place, on-campus research activities, including that involving both undergraduate and graduate students, will gradually resume.

More to come

As planning progresses and activities begin to resume, it is important to stress that the health and safety of our community continues to be our top priority. We will need to remain responsive to changing conditions.

Today’s announcement is only the first step. There is much more planning underway and details will be made available as plans are developed and implemented.

I will continue to keep you updated, as will many others. This is a major endeavour involving leaders and teams across the faculties and units and you can expect to learn more from them as well. Please see today’s update on the COVID-19 website at and continue to revisit often.

Once again my sincere thanks to all our faculty and staff for your continued dedication and hard work.

And, to all incoming and current students — we look forward to welcoming you to the University of Alberta in September!

David H. Turpin
President and Vice-Chancellor