We’re planning for a combined approach for fall term learning - future students

Friday, May 15, 2020

On Friday, May 15 the following email was sent to future Waterloo graduate students:


To: Future Waterloo graduate students

From: Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor

Subject: We’re planning for a combined approach for fall term learning 


  • All large classes will happen online this fall.
  • Some classes and supports will be available in person.
  • We will support your academic progress, no matter where you are.

We are excited for you to join the University of Waterloo community this fall and we remain committed to delivering the quality learning and student experience you are expecting from us. While the future remains uncertain and the situation will continue to evolve, we would like to share our current plans for the fall 2020 term.                         

The first term in a new graduate program can be an exciting and extraordinary time. The University will support you no matter how or where you complete your first term with Waterloo.

Throughout the pandemic we have delivered the highest quality courses and experiences for our students, at a distance. This will continue into the fall term when you join us. Our resilience and spirit make us a University built for change.

We have learned from our experience of running the largest spring term in Canada and will invest in further upgrades to distance learning. We will continue to put you, our students, in the centre of everything we do:

  • We will be offering a full fall term to every student.
  • We will follow the guidance of public health officials to keep students safe.
  • We hope to enable on-campus experiences and supports for as many students as possible, subject to public health advice.
  • We will support the academic progress of every student who registers, no matter where they are for the fall term.

Large classes will happen online with some in-person classes and supports

We are planning for a combined approach to learning for the fall term and a measured return to in-person learning.

  • Starting in September, we will continue to deliver all large courses online although we hope some elements such as clinical programs, labs or tutorials will be available in person. Though the COVID-19 situation may change throughout the term, all large classes will stay online throughout fall term.
  • We are working on a plan for some activity to happen in-person, if the conditions allow, such as smaller classes or seminars, access to research facilities for graduate students and those in clinical programs. Any in-person activity will meet strict guidelines for physical distancing and other public health requirements.
  • We will operate on-campus supports and services as conditions allow. This could mean limited access to libraries or computer labs and other learning and personal resources. Timing for when and how we can make our campus available will depend on guidance from public health authorities.
  • We are developing plans to support students who need it, wherever you are. This includes support for students in financial difficulty, people who need health and mental health advice, and people who need academic support.
  • We will share more detailed information – including our plans for residences and other activities – when we have it. 

Our two key concerns are ensuring that you stay safe and helping you start your university journey with Waterloo successfully. We will follow direction from all levels of government to ensure we can resume operations safely and we will continue adapting and evolving to ensure that you get the high-quality Waterloo education that you expect.

Stay well and stay informed

Visit the University’s Coronavirus Information website for the latest COVID-19 updates and news including any changes to the status of classes and resources for the fall term.

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