TORONTO -- Post-secondary institutions around the GTA moved to suspend classes and large gatherings Friday as they move to curb the spread of COVID-19.

York University and the University of Toronto both said Friday that they will suspend classes starting next week. Ryerson University said it would start moving classes online today.

In a statement, York said that it will suspend “all face-to-face instruction” starting Monday.

“In light of the developments we have seen at home and around the world this week, it is time for the University to enter a new phase in its comprehensive response,” York University President Rhonda Lenton said in the statement.

She said all face-to-face instruction will be suspended and moved to online formats starting next week and that further information will be forthcoming about exam plans and lab and studio work.

In addition to the suspension of classes, the university said that it will suspend all “non-essential events that are not required as part of an academic program” starting at 12 a.m. on Saturday.

“We are committed to completing the term and will deploy all of our resources to support faculty and students through this transition,” Lenton said. “Further information will be forthcoming from the Provost and Deans regarding courses with lab and studio requirements, and arrangements for examinations. Where possible, work and clinical placements will continue.”

The University of Toronto announced Friday that it is cancelling all in-person classes across its three campuses for undergraduates and research-stream masters and doctoral courses starting Monday.

The university said that it will move classes online through April 3.

Decisions are still being made for professional degree programs and the university said students and staff in those programs can expect a decision by Monday on how they will proceed.

Other public spaces on UofT campuses, such as libraries, residences and health centres will remain open.

UofT previously cancelled all University-sponsored learning programs abroad.

“One of the key factors in these decisions is the need to foster a degree of ‘social distancing’, as recommended by public health authorities,” UofT President Meric Gertler said in a statement. “On that front, our goal is to help interrupt the chain of transmission in the wider community, thereby protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that our health care system will not become overburdened.”

Ryerson University said that it will use next week to “to explore and implement alternate forms of program delivery.”

“Effective today, March 13, the university will be shifting all in-person classes to virtual and other alternative forms of delivery,” Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi said in a statement.

Seneca College also advised students Friday that all in-person classes would be cancelled from March 16 through March 22. Online classes will resume for all Seneca students on March 23, while poractical in-person elements of courses will resume on April 6.

Yesterday the Ontario government announced that all publicly funded schools in the province would be closed for three weeks from March 14 to April 5.

A number of other post-secondary institutions have also cancelled or modified classes:

  • Humber College will be suspending all classes for the week of March 16 – 20. From March 23 to April 17, Humber will be moving to remote delivery of classes, wherever possible.
  • Centennial College said all classes will be suspended from March 16-March 20. From March 23-April 3 all courses will be delivered online and students will not have to attend campus.
  • George Brown said it has decided to suspend in-person classes from Saturday, March 14 to Sunday, March 22. This includes all in-person daytime and continuing education classes at all campuses. In-person events are also cancelled until further notice. Residences remain open.
  • McMaster University said that it is suspending in-person classes as of the end of the day Friday.  And said there will be no in-person exams at the end of the term.