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What We Know about Fall 2021

McGill administration expects students to return to campus despite the unpredictability of public health directives

On February 23, students received an email informing them that McGill plans on returning to on-campus activity in Fall 2021. While it is difficult to predict what public health directives will look like 6 months from now, here is what we know about the Fall semester so far.

Top takeaways:

  • As the government expects that high-risk people will be vaccinated well before the Fall, all students are expected to be on campus for the Fall semester.
  • The University does not plan on implementing a hybrid learning model – meaning courses may not have a remote option.

During the March 12 Town Hall, Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning, Fabrice Labeau, presented a rough outline of McGill’s various contingency plans for the Fall semester, with scenarios ranging from “red alert equivalent” to “optimistic:”

Because the government claims that a high percentage of the population will be vaccinated by September, the University anticipates more relaxed public health measures come Fall. This means the majority of classes will be held on campus, though classes and exams with more than 150 people will still be conducted remotely. Students who must attend both in-person and online classes will be able to make use of “Flex spaces,” which allow for noisy work – such as participating in a video call – unlike traditional libraries. Furthermore, the University hopes to have a vaccination centre available for students and employees: per Labeau, McGill may establish a vaccination centre once the general population (i.e., those aged from 16-60 years who do not have underlying conditions) starts receiving vaccinations. However, the University does not expect students to present proof of vaccination in order to enter campus buildings. What is needed for entry, though, is a procedural mask. These will be distributed at different buildings throughout campus. With these general guidelines in mind, consult the list below for information pertaining to first-year, high-risk, and international students.

What you need to know if…

  • You will be a first-year student this Fall:
    • Residences will be open.  Furthermore, all first-year students are guaranteed university housing.
    • Because the University is primarily focusing on academic planning, the status of extracurricular activities such as Frosh is uncertain. 
  • You are at risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms:
    • According to the Canadian government, those with pre-existing conditions will be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine. As such, the University assumes that high-risk students will be able to attend classes on campus next Fall. However, according to Associate Provost Christopher Buddle, the University will work with Faculties to ensure flexibility for students who are in need of accommodations.
  • You’re an international student:
    • While international travel is currently restricted, and will likely remain restricted this September, students with a valid study permit can enter Canada.
    • The University is currently working with the government to speed up the process of acquiring necessary documents. However, if you need to obtain or renew your documentation, you should do so as soon as possible.
    • Upon entering Canada, you will need to quarantine in a hotel for three days. However, the university is providing a bursary for students who cannot afford the hotel quarantine. What’s more, Labeau claims that although most outlets report that the cost of a hotel quarantine is about $2000, in practice, quarantining tends to cost around $900-$1200.
    • The University does not expect that students will be required to present proof of vaccination to enter the country.
    • While it is uncertain whether this policy will remain, international students are currently able to receive the vaccine in Canada.

If you feel that you’re being put at undue risk by your courses, instructors, or McGill’s COVID-19 policies, please contact us at