Coronavirus update: A message from Christopher Manfredi and Yves Beauchamp

March 16, 2020  —  Uncategorized

The following is the message sent on March 15 on behalf of Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) and Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance).

Dear members of the McGill community,     

We are writing to share some details about what the next two weeks will look like for McGill students, faculty and staff as the University follows the Quebec government’s decision to temporarily close all schools and universities. It is important to note that the situation is extremely fluid and this two-week closure may be extended; thank you for your understanding as we navigate these uncertain times together.   

The University fully supports the Quebec government’s decision and is committed to helping contain the propagation of COVID-19 by “flattening the curve,” so that health services do not collapse under the resulting patient load. To promote social distancing, we are implementing measures to have fewer individuals on, or commuting to, our campuses.   

We understand that this situation can be extremely stressful, both in people’s personal lives and in their academic and professional careers. While we can’t completely assuage this anxiety, we hope that providing clear communication regarding McGill’s operation in the coming weeks will help clarify the situation. 

Teaching and assessments  

While academic activities lie at the core of McGill’s mission, they are being suspended in light of the government directive. All classes (in-person and online), teaching labs, exams, assignments and other forms of assessment are suspended for two weeks – except thesis defenses. Students with thesis defenses are asked to contact their supervisors to discuss possible alternatives. Some limited online instruction will proceed with critical disciplines in the Faculty of Medicine.

Be assured that we are committed to ensuring that all courses that can be taught online will be in an online format starting on March 30. The goal is to ensure that as many students as possible are able to complete most, if not all, of their academic term remotely. Alternative formats for final examinations are also being explored so that the examination period will not involve in-person sit-down examinations on our campuses. We recognize that this will not work for some courses and programs, and for some students, and we are therefore evaluating alternatives for these situations. 

During the next two weeks, instructors will contact students about how teaching will resume after the suspension period, and any possible adjustments to modes of assessment.  

Research  

We realize that a ramp down of on-campus research may represent significant hardship for those involved in certain research projects that are in progress. Unfortunately, due to the current crisis and the importance of preserving the health and safety of our community, the government’s and McGill’s default position is that all non-essential research activities on campus must be postponed or halted in the short term. Ultimately, we must accept that the current COVID-19 situation is a unique emergency that requires exceptional measures that will inevitably have important impacts on everyone’s work. McGill is in communication with funding agencies to address the resulting issues. 

Faculty deans will shortly send out detailed steps to take as well as the process that allows you to request an extension or exemption from the ramp-down.

Graduate Students who have questions related to the continuation of their research activities in this context should contact their Graduate Program Directors and/or the Associate Deans at Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 

Workplace  

As per clarifications from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, McGill will remain operational for the duration of the two-week suspension, beginning on Tuesday, March 17, but only necessary functions and activities will be provided on campus.  

Unless otherwise notified, employees are to work remotely whenever possible for the duration of the two-week suspension period. Supervisors will contact employees to determine which functions will be maintained over this period, who is to perform their duties, and how. We ask everyone to adjust tasks, set priorities, and redistribute work as they are able.  

Employees are asked to consult IT’s guidelines for remote work at www.mcgill.ca/it/work-remotely, where guidance is provided under “Meeting & Collaborating Remotely.”  

Academic and support staff are asked to use the following tools:  

  1. Zoom will soon be available to all instructors for teaching and learning activities   
  2. MS Teams is currently available to all employees for all collaborative work (web conferencing, chat, etc.)   
  3. WebEx will soon be available to employees for all Web conferencing needs.   

It has been decided not to use Skype as the product is nearing end of life.

All academic and administrative staff, including casual and work-study employees who were scheduled to work over the two-week suspension period, will be paid.

Health  

Once again, we strongly encourage people to continue practicing proper health precautions, including washing their hands often and covering their mouth and nose with their arm when coughing or sneezing.   Should you develop a fever, cough or begin to have difficulty breathing, you should:  

  • isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible  
  • immediately call 1-877-644-4545 
  • describe your symptoms and travel history  
  • follow their instructions carefully

If you have decided or been advised to self-isolate:  

  • All students: report your situation to your student affairs office or your department.  
  • Students living in residence: report your status by contacting Student Housing and Hospitality Services at housing.residences@mcgill.ca. Self-reporting will ensure that assistance is provided to you and services are maintained.   
  • Employees: report your status by contacting your immediate supervisor.  

Note: Rest assured that this information will be treated confidentially. 
  
Student Services will remain in operation but by phone and online. The Wellness Hub will be closed over the coming week and will move to online operations. 
  
Students will continue to have access to a number of health services. Students have virtual access to doctors via the Maple app. Moreover, Keep.meSAFE, a mental health counselling service offered to students in partnership with SSMU and PGSS, provides 24/7 access to licensed counsellors through telephone and mobile chat in more than 60 languages.  To access this service, download the MySSP app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Libraries

All McGill libraries are closed until March 30. Online library services will still be available during this period. Please note the following:

  • The Library is offering a retrieval service for research print materials from downtown libraries. Only items that can normally circulate can be requested via a form that will be accessible on the Library’s homepage and FAQ page.  
  • Materials from Macdonald Campus Library are not available at this time.  
  • Physical items placed on course reserves will not be available at this time.  
  • Reference services will be moving online for the next two weeks: Chat, email or text a librarian from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Monday, March 16.

A link to a FAQ page outlining the Library’s contingency plan will be available on the Library’s homepage on Monday, March 16.   

Services

All McGill Athletics & Recreation facilities are closed until March 30.  

Food services will remain open with regular hours of service in all residential dining halls (except Douglas Hall), Starbucks, Premiere Moisson and Twiggs at Macdonald campus. All other food service locations on campus will be closed.

McGill’s shuttle service between the downtown and Macdonald campuses will operate on the same reduced schedule as per reading week.

The University will continue to update the community as the situation develops and following further government instructions.

Please see the coronavirus page of the McGill website for the most current information.    

If you have any questions, write to COVID-19.info@mcgill.ca.    


Sincerely,  

Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) 

Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance)  

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