My son and I visited the Uni of Toronto this past week. There were many positive selling points for the school- the diversity, the excellence in CS/AI, being at the heart of a vibrant city, etc.
One thing that surprised us was the guidance from the tour guide that many first year classes would remain virtual in the 2022-2023 year (and perhaps longer, given how long the pandemic is dragging on). Toronto seems much more covid-cautious than most US cities, and since the first year classes can be up to 1400 students the administration has apparently decided it would be safer to have such classes remain virtual for the time being. The tour guide said that many teachers of 2nd year and up classes (often 60-100 students) offer either streaming options for classes or recorded versions of the lectures, to help students who are quarantined or isolated. This is obviously a boon for students in such situations. However the student tour guide said it also caused many students who weren’t isolating/quarantining to skip live class and stream them instead.
Does anyone have experience with the current situation at U of T, or know if other Canadian universities have similar issues? We live close to Canada and their university system seems appealing in may ways, but it sounds as if the combination of larger class sizes and stringent covid precautions could make the first years’ classes less lively than in years past. Or perhaps it is not such a big deal- the huge intro classes are not that different online than in a huge lecture hall, and having fewer people present in upper level classes makes the classes feel more intimate for the students who do show up in person? Thanks