UPDATED: Everything campus needs to know about COVID-19

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Not many people will be passing that sign come next week/Morgan Ortman

Here’s what campus needs to know about the fallout from the virus

Welcome to, and we cannot stress this enough, a developing story.

Update March 26: 5:22 P.M.

All Chartwell’s services have shut down, meaning that the only food left for those on campus is Luther Cafeteria. The head of the board of governors sent out an email to students asking for togetherness. The campus has announced that they will be meeting — sources say on Monday — to discuss options surrounding grading, including to moving to a pass/fail system. The movement towards a pass/fail system has been led by our news editor, Sara Birrell through a change.org petition.

Update March 22: 4:43 P.M.

In an email sent to staff by the library’s Dean Mulhall, the library will “completely close effective Monday, March 23.” Staff will be paid for their unworked March shifts.

UPDATE March 19: 2:31 P.M.:

On Mar. 18, an email from Tom Chase via the student affairs litserv detailed changes to campus goings on. We’ve bolded what we feel is important. This page will slowly be moved into a resource-style article and posted elsewhere in the coming days, right after our eic gets some sleep. Also important to note are the changes to student loans as announced by the government this week. 

“Members of the University Community,

As you may be aware, the Government of Saskatchewan has declared a provincial State of Emergency in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, clearing the way for broad government powers to restrict travel, limit public activities and deploy resources.

The University of Regina is evaluating what this might mean for our operations and will provide an appropriate response tomorrow.

In the meantime we continue to prepare for our transition to remote teaching and learning platforms on Friday, I would once again like to thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding as we work through these challenging times. We are doing our best to adapt to a rapidly-changing situation while keeping everyone’s health and safety and our students’ academic progress as our top priorities.

Here is a brief progress report for today:

DISTANCE LEARNING

Most of our focus continues to be on preparing for the transition to remote learning on Friday. Instructors have been populating their course schedules, platforms and plans on the teaching portal. The student portal will go live tomorrow (Thursday) and will be accessible here: https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/. Student questions and concerns should first be directed to your instructor or faculty.

For faculty, it is important to remember that if you are teaching live (e.g. Zoom) to students who are at a distance and in different time zones, recording your lecture through whatever technology is available to you would be invaluable to students, especially international students.

Faculty are also reminded to address student accommodations within their distance delivery modalities. Should there be any questions or concerns please contact the Centre for Student Accessibility here: https://www.uregina.ca/student/accessibility/contact/index.html.

SERVICE CHANGES

Despite many staff and faculty members now working remotely, the University continues to operate, albeit with reduced hours and services in some areas:

  • At this time, the Dr. John Archer Library and Archives will transition on Monday, March 23 to online services only with no in-person services available. Self-check and computer terminals will still be available. Updated hours will be 8 am to 8 pm Mon. to Fri. and 8 am to 4 pm on weekends. Please be sure to check here for updates should further changes take place: uregina.libguides.com/covid-19
  • Beginning March 23, College Avenue Campus building hours will be 7 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday and closed on the weekends.
  • The latest information on food services hours and offerings are located here: uregina.ca/covid-19/closures.html
  • Changes to Bookstore hours and services can be found here: ebookstore.uregina.ca/

WORKING REMOTELY

Employees who are currently working remotely, or who are in the process of transitioning, are reminded that they should be discussing their arrangements and equipment needs with their supervisors. They should also be completing the Checklist for working remotely: uregina.ca/covid-19/assets/docs/pdf/remote-work-checklist.pdf.

There are a number of important steps that must be taken to ensure working remotely is effective and secure. Important cybersecurity information, along with other handy guides, can be accessed here: uregina.ca/covid-19/faculty-staff/remote-work

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge how difficult this situation is for many of our international students as they face challenges around expiring visas, arranging for travel and concern for family back home. The Government of Canada has announced special measures to assist those here on study permits. Details can be found here: canada.ca/en/immigration.html. URInternational will continue to provide support and guidance wherever possible. The office can be reached at 306-585-5082, or email international.studentservices@uregina.ca.

More information will be provided as it becomes available. In the meantime, take care of each other and stay safe and healthy.”

Mar. 17:

At 2:26 p.m. a wide-ranging email was sent to the student affairs litserv. The email, printed in full below, gives details on deadlines and adaptations for the coming weeks. Both this email and the latter one describing changes to final exams and evaluations, were written on behalf of Provost Tom Chase.

“Dear Students,

These are challenging times. The Covid-19 pandemic and the necessary steps we have taken at the University of Regina to protect the health and safety of everyone on campus have created disruptions to life on campus. We recognize the pressure faculty, students, and staff are under.

With final assignments and exams approaching, the added uncertainty created by the suspension of face-to-face classes and the change to learning at a distance are adding to what is always a challenging period for students.

Let me assure you that we are working hard to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible. Students are our first priority. Our overriding objective is to ensure students can complete their classes on time.

To achieve that goal, while dealing with these unique circumstances, we have taken several specific steps. Each is designed to make sure we meet the needs of students in the days ahead. They include:

  • Online information about classes
    1. The University has launched an instructor-focused website at http://www.uregina.ca/remote-teaching to assist in the transition from face-to-face instruction to teaching at a distance. In order to allow sufficient time for instructors to populate their portal, the student portal for the on-line guide to classes is expected to go live Thursday, March 19. It will be accessible from our main Covid-19 mobile-friendly site: https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/. Information on how and where students can access their classes will be made available there.
  • Final exams 
    1. The Academic and Research Committee is meeting today to plan how final exams will be managed. More information will be provided on that as soon as it becomes available. However, we can advise now that no final exams will be held in-person.
  • Class withdrawal deadline has been extended to March 23

We recognize the effect suspension of classes from March 16 to 19 has on students, and the important decisions students need to make while they await further information. Therefore, the grade-of-W withdrawal deadline has been extended. The revised grade-of-W withdrawal deadline is now March 23 for all 202010 Part of Term (POT) 1 students. Students in other winter parts of term can view their revised grade-of-W withdrawal deadline in UR Self Service.

  1. Deadlines and Procedures for Deferral Requests
  2. Students who wish to ask for a deferral of course work should make it to their course instructor, as would normally occur and prior to the due date of an assignment. Please see 2019-20 Academic Calendar pages 49 & 50, and in particular, “Deferral of Course Work and Term Exams”.
  • Deferral of Final Exam

The deadline for making a request to defer a final exam will be extended from within 3 business days to within 10 calendar days of the scheduled exam date. For the Winter 2020 term, the maximum length of the deferral will be extended by 7 calendar days from May 31 to June 7, 2020.

  • Requirement to submit supporting documentation

The requirement to submit supporting documentation, in cases of illness, has been waived. Students will still be required to complete an Undergraduate Student Application For Deferral of Term Work/and or Final Exam request form and a Student Self Declaration of Illness form.

  • Extension to Grade Submission Deadlines

Given the change in the delivery format of course, including changes to final assessments, the University will be allowing an additional 7 calendar days for grade submission in addition to the current 5 business days. Please note that because some students will be waiting for grades for the purposes of determining eligibility to graduate (here or at another institution), or to register for classes in future terms, every effort should be made to submit within the 5 days when possible.

Information about computer lab access and library services

We recognize not every student has the necessary computer and/or Internet access that may be required to access coursework remotely.  For that reason, every effort is being made to have existing computer lab space available on campus for those students who normally use it.  It should be noted that in all cases, the number of terminals available has been reduced to approximately one-half the normal capacity to ensure social distancing.  All computer stations will be cleaned on a regular basis and students using them are asked to practice careful hygiene and create space between themselves and others using the locations and to facilitate sanitizing the equipment appropriately.

A number of common computer labs exist on the main campus, and their locations may be found here: https://www.uregina.ca/is/common/ur/labs/locations.html.  Please note that not all labs may be open at all times, and that the number of operational terminals has been reduced.  Most faculties also operate their own computer labs, so please contact your faculty if you are unaware of the location of its lab.

In addition, the Dr. John Archer Library remains open, with some reductions in service and computer lab space.  Updated information about the library’s service, including computer access for students, may be found at: insert link [EIC’s note: we assume they mean this link ]

Students with ready computer/Internet access are asked whenever possible to refrain from using the computer labs (including the library terminals) so that students without such access may work on their course material.

Support for students

It is important to note that Student Affairs remains fully accessible to students, with all offices open. If staff are working remotely, Counseling, Advising and all supports will still be available by phone, online or by Zoom. For more information on counselling services, go to https://www.uregina.ca/student/counselling/

Also, students in residence who are eager to return home need only contact the Housing office and fill out a short online form. Refunds will be processed and all cancellation fees have been waived. It is important that students contact the Housing Office at their earliest convenience to facilitate their refunds.

Lastly, as all public events, programs and activities have been cancelled at the University of Regina, and all recreation facilities are currently closed, the University is asking the public to avoid coming to our campuses unless absolutely necessary. Students, staff and faculty will continue to be able to access our grounds and buildings, as will contractors, delivery personnel and other outside support workers.

Please know that a number of faculty and staff are working hard to map the way forward for students to complete their academic years. We will provide more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.”

A follow up email at 5:41 p.m. later detailed the changes to final exams. Those are detailed here: 

“Thank you for your continuing patience as the University works through the implications that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our operations.  As you know, rapidly changing events in the province are affecting us – as individuals, as families and as an institution – on a daily basis.  We are doing our utmost to adapt to them and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on our University, while keeping everyone’s health and safety and our students’ academic progress as our top priorities.

To that end, we are providing the following update regarding exams:

Mid-term and final examinations

There will be no in-person exams (mid-term or final) for the remainder of the Winter 2020 term.  The University recognizes the impact this will have on faculty and students. To address this issue, we have developed some recommended options for instructors.

Options:

  1. A project or an assignment as part of course evaluations to replace in-person final exam requirements;
  2. A take-home exam as the exam requirement;
  3. A final grade based on completed coursework components, with weighting adjusted as appropriate;
  4. An online exam if feasible; or
  5. A timed exam in UR Courses that is available for distribution at a specific time and closed at a specific time.
  6. Instructors may also develop additional alternatives to exams for assessing final grades in consultation with their Department Head, Associate Dean, Dean, or Director.

As previously communicated, the University has launched an instructor-focused website at http://www.uregina.ca/remote-teachingto assist in the transition from face-to-face instruction to teaching at a distance. The student portal for the on-line guide to classes is expected to go live Thursday, March 19 and will be accessible here: https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/. Each course evaluation decision will be communicated to students via the on-line guide or directly from their instructors.”

UPDATE MARCH 16, 2:28 P.M:

An email has been sent to all library staff detailing new measures. No study rooms are to be booked, public access to materials is blocked, although the library will continue operating for students, faculty, and staff. Text of the email is below.

“Until further notice, we will stop issuing Guest Accounts for use at the Library’s computer terminals by public users AND stop issuing Public Access Library Cards. The Regina Public Library branches have now been closed due to COVI D-19 and we potentially could see an influx of these patrons wanting to use our computers for internet access and to borrow from our collection. Stopping Guest Account access and Public Access Library Card issuing would potentially prevent this from happening.

Until further notice, we will stop all Group Study Room usage. All current bookings will be cancelled and access to booking study rooms on our website will be blocked. I will also lock all of the study rooms to prevent student usage. Please do not book any Group Study Room requests by patrons when working the Help Desk. Also, let those students with previous bookings who come to the Help Desk know that their bookings have been cancelled and that the study rooms are unavailable until further notice…”

“We will continue lending iPads and laptops with their normal loan periods. Overdue fines will still be charged as normal on these devices should they be returned late.”

Fines and fee deadlines have been extended

Moving right along, in a release by the Faculty of Education they have announced that all internships and fieldwork will end today.

Meanwhile, KHS Dean Harold sent out a number of documents to students last night that we have obtained. They provide details on the building closures, COVID-19 and his dean’s report. We’ve posted both the dean’s and  the associate dean’s statement(s) here.

Dean Harold Reimer: 

“A great deal has transpired since my note to you this past Friday evening. For me, it illustrates how quickly our current situation is changing. My own thinking about the impact that COVID 19 will have on Saskatchewan and Regina has changed dramatically since I wrote that note.

Let me begin with some updates of decisions that have been made since Friday:

  1. Our recreation/sport facilities and student congregating areas have now been closed until further notice (i.e., FLC, Pool, Gymnasiums, all locker and change rooms

– including team locker rooms, student lounge, athlete study space, etc.).

  1. Any group fitness/exercise/therapy activities This includes Love 2 Live Programming, Enrich Neurorehab, Brain Fitness, URFit, etc.
  2. Our allied health services (e.g., Chiro, Physio, Massage, Tradition Chinese Medicine, Athletic Therapy, Personal Training, Exercise Therapy, ) have been suspended.
  3. Intramurals has been discontinued.
  4. Varsity and Club team practices/activities have been cancelled
  5. Out of province travel has been cancelled
  6. All events on the campus or run by the Faculty have been cancelled
  7. All face to face and online courses are suspended Monday through Thursday of this coming week. That time will be used to prepare to transition our face to face courses for remote delivery

Let me also give you some idea of what has been going on, and what will be taking place, over the next few days:

  1. It is our intention that the semester will continue, will be completed on time, and that students will receive a grade for every course
  2. Additional University level planning is taking place as to how final exams will be handled and how research activity will be impacted or dealt with.
  3. We will be making more decisions, in consultation with our staff, regarding other areas of operation (e.g., front office, recreation services counter, ) and upcoming activities (e.g., occupational testing that has been planned, etc.).

As we (i.e., myself, the Faculty, the University) know more, we will pass that information along.

What I have already learned is that decisions we make today, based on the information we have to this point in time, may change in the coming days and weeks. We will do our best for our students, for our clients, for our staff, and for our faculty.

I want to thank you all for your patience during this unique time in our history. I look forward to working with all of you to get through this together.

Harold Riemer

P.S. We will continue to communicate through a variety of channels including U of R email accounts, URCourses, Social Media site, etc. It is also a good idea to monitor the University’s official COVID 19 website where all campus wide information is posted. I have provided the link here: https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/

Assoc. Dean Doug Cripps

“Dear KHS Students:

I hope you are staying well this weekend and feeling that you have been reasonably well informed about the U of R response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I do believe you have received information about the new website that the U of R is using to provide information about the situation but am going to paste it here as well – though the link to this new site is on the U of R homepage the actual new site is mobile friendly.

https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/

Many staff and faculty at the University of Regina have been working diligently on this issue in the last number of days and weeks with most recently with the University Leadership Team meeting most of the weekend and our KHS leadership team met most of Sunday afternoon.

The Academic Contingency Committee, which I am a member of, is meeting Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. and I am meeting with all KHS faculty and instructors Monday at 9:00 a.m. to continue with our planning on how we intend to continue with remote delivery and teaching at a distance for our courses.

This will require some significant shifting of traditional teaching for many of our faculty and instructors and my message to them, as the Associate Dean, is be cognizant of the fact we have spent months planning for our courses this current winter term and, for those teaching face to face courses, are now being asked to plan for remote learning and teaching at a distance in a matter of days. It simply is going to take some time and will certainly not be ideal. One of the mantras I like to use is “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of damn good enough” and it is particularly true in situations such as this.

My message to your instructors is to be patient with students (and themselves) as adjustments will need to be made to course syllabi in the next few days. Because of that I would ask that you not connect with your other instructors until later in the week as they simply may not be able to provide you with any answers other than “I’m working on it and will get back to you asap’.

I will make every effort to keep you apprised of the situation at the University of Regina.

May I suggest that you focus a critical eye on what you read on social media because we do know that not all that we read is accurate. In fact, it may not be remotely close to the truth.

Seek trusted sources to confirm what you are reading. If you see something, hear something, or read something about the University of Regina, our courses, our faculty, etc. not coming from an official source, please let us know. You can contact us at kinesiology@uregina.ca.

I can’t promise you I know all that is going on, nor can I promise I will have all the answers. I will promise you to do my best to provide an answer.

Take care and stay well.

Doug Cripps”

UPDATE MARCH 15, 9:18 P.M:

Campus has sent an update on the hours for Chartwell’s.

“Dear Campus Community,

University Food Services wishes to advise the campus community of changes to food service hours for the week of Tuesday, March 17 – Friday, March 20, in light of the recent campus changes in response to COVID-19.

In place of the buffet service, Global Village will be offering two specials during each meal period which will include beverage, salad, entrée, and dessert for a price of $9.99.

On-the-Go products and catering services remain available, with the changes previously communicated via email from Chartwells (such as individual packaging).

We thank you for your continued support of University Food Services as our response to the current situation evolves.

Hours of Operation – Tuesday, March 17 – Friday, March 20 (inclusive)

*University of Regina operated food services only

Location  Tuesday to Friday(inclusive)
Riddell Centre:
Tim Horton’s 7 am – 3 pm
Grill & Co 7 am – 2 pm
Global Village (alternate menu) Lunch: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm

Dinner: 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Kīšik Towers
C-Store 7 am – 3 pm

(no coffee service)

Further updates to the availability of food services will be provided as they become available.”

The Owl remains on its regular schedule

UPDATE MARCH 15, 8:50 P.M.

Changing course after a previous announcement, the campus sent out an email at 8:42 announcing that classes at regional colleges are also cancelled. The text of the email is below.

“This is to advise that all University of Regina classes at Regional Colleges will now be suspended effective today, March 15, through Thursday, March 19. Classes are planned to resume on Friday, March 20, at which point it is likely that remote delivery of course material will begin. Updates will be provided as appropriate methods of course delivery are determined. Please be sure to check www.uregina.ca for additional updates on COVID-19 and its impact on University of Regina operations.  Thank you for your patience at this challenging time.”

The email was sent on behalf of AVP (Academic) Dr. Nilgun Onder.

UPDATE MARCH 15, 7:33 P.M.

The campus sent out an email at 7:27 confirming the CKHS closure that we already independently confirmed and reported. There is also extra information that we have included below, in relation to refunds for off-campus events.

“In addition, theUniversity of Regina has decided to cancel all non-essential events, on and off campus.  This includes third-party events that have been booked on our campus.  Effective Monday, March 16, the following non-credit programs are being cancelled:

  • Love 2 Live
  • Enrich
  • Brain Health
  • URFit (group fitness)
  • University of Regina Red Cross Swim Lessons
  • Intramurals
  • Rental group bookings will also be suspended until April 30, 2020, at which point we will reassess.

Information on how pro-rated refunds or programming credits will be managed will be provided next week.

These decisions have been made based on the best science available and in an attempt to mitigate the impact that the virus will have in Regina and Saskatchewan.

Any questions regarding facility closure and service cancelation should be directed to kinesiology@uregina.ca.”

UPDATE MARCH 15, 6:56 P.M.

The University of Regina has created a web story related to the anxiety of the outbreak, including criticizing the media’s coverage of the virus. The carillon would like to remind the administration that media updates are coming quickly because the news is developing quickly. The mission of the media should be to inform society of what’s happening in the world. That does not, and will not, stop — regardless of whether a psychology professor implies that a quick reacting press is one that is not serving the public interest.

We broke the story that campus was closing.

We have been providing continuous updates even as the campus webpage kept faculty, staff, and students in the dark.

We have been thanked by the Provost and URSU for our work.

We are as anxious as anyone, but we think it is important to do our jobs.

The carillon will not be printing an issue this week, but articles will be posted online. We are exploring all options to support our entire staff through this difficult time. We will focus on our readers and our staff until we are told we are not allowed to — which shall be never.

UPDATE MARCH 15, 5:10 P.M. (THIS ONE’S A LONG ONE): 

At 5:02 P.M, an email was sent from the campus’ communications department to the President’s List litserv. The update, sent on behalf of Provost Tom Chase, sets out the requirements of faculty and staff tomorrow. We’ve posted it below, emphasis is Tom’s.

“Important Information for Monday, March 16

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The University is actively investigating opportunities for staff to work remotely where possible.

Until remote work decisions are made, University staff members are expected to maintain their usual practice regarding presence on campus.

Faculty members working to transition their courses to distance delivery are free to come to campus, or work from other locations.

We will keep staff updated regarding remote working scenarios as details become available.”

At 2:04 P.M. an email was sent by Student Care (the URSU Health & Dental Provider), that email went straight to most students’ junk mail. We’ve reposted it below.

“On behalf of students’ union [SIC], we’d like to share some important information about your student Health & Dental Plan as it relates to the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

With presumptive and confirmed cases in various provinces across Canada, we thought we would share answers to the most commonly asked questions for those covered by the Travel Plan. Click here for the FAQ, which will be continually updated as we monitor the situation.

In partnership with Dialogue, a virtual platform that provides progressive health care online and via your mobile phone, Studentcare also wishes to announce access to Chloe by Dialogue.

We encourage all Plan members to consult Chloe, a free, automated online medical assistance tool created by Dialogue to provide the latest public health-care information to help prevent COVID-19 infection.

Here are some additional recommended sources of information:

Stay safe and healthy,

Your Plan administrator, Studentcare”

As of 3 P.M. today, the CKHS building’s facilities are effectively closed. Here’s the email from 2:40 today from their dean, Harold Reimer, as sent to athletes by director Lisa Robertston.

“Important COVID-19 Update:

1. Effective Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm (15:00 CST) the following facilities will be closing:

  •  the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre
  • the Aquatics Centre
  • all Gymnasiums
  • APHi Centre
  • Athlete Therapy Room

 These facilities will remain closed until further notice.

 2. To allow clients the opportunity to remove their personal belongings, the change and locker rooms will close effective 8:00 am (08:00 CST) Monday March 16, 2020. It will remain closed until further notice. If you require access at some point after the facilities have been closed, please contact kinesiology@uregina.ca

3. The Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies has also determined to cancel all of our allied health services effective Monday March 16, 2020 beginning at 6:00 am (06:00 CST). This includes the following services currently scheduled through the Dr. Paul Schwann Centre:

  •  Chiropractic Services
  • Massage Therapy
  • Athletic Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Personal and Small group training
  • One on one assessments, testing etc.

 These decisions have been made based on the best science available and in an attempt to mitigate the impact that the virus will have in Regina and Saskatchewan.

 Any questions regarding facility closure and service cancelation should be directed to kinesiology@uregina.ca.” 

UPDATE MARCH 14, 8:24 P.M.: An email was sent to the President’s List from the Communication department at 5:58 P.M. The email details the next stage in the response from campus administration in regards to how employment is affected. The entire email is below.

“To University of Regina Faculty & Staff,

The University’s immediate focus is ensuring the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students.  This situation is evolving quickly, however, the information we provide is as up to date as possible and we will continue to provide updates as circumstances change.

Showing Symptoms of COVID-19

Anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID – 19 is encouraged to call Healthline 811 and follow Public Health guidelines. For more information please refer to the Saskatchewan Health website: https://www.saskhealthauthority.ca and/or the University of Regina’s COVID-19 page: https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/ Faculty and staff experiencing symptoms or illness related to COVID- 19 and are required to self-isolate based on direction from Public Health can access sick leave benefits in with applicable collective agreements or out of scope provisions.

Faculty and staff who are ill or showing symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to follow standard absence reporting procedures and stay home from work. Sick leave benefits in accordance with applicable collective agreements or out of scope provisions will apply. For CUPE 5791 operational, trades, facility, applied scientific and security employees without sick leave benefits, please contact your manager or supervisor regarding short-term disability benefits.

Faculty and staff will not be required to provide a medical certificate should they have symptoms of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Health authorities do not want the public to overburden the health system; however, there will be situations when people are advised to seek medical attention.

Should a faculty or staff member encounter a prolonged illness, the University retains the right to request medical evidence according to University policy and collective agreement provisions.

If, on the recommendation or direction from Public Health, faculty and staff are required to self-isolate, working remotely options will be explored. This extends to self-isolation to care for dependents that are required to self-isolate on direction from Public Health.

If Faculty and staff cannot work remotely they can access sick leave benefits according to applicable collective agreement or out of scope provisions.

Faculty and staff required to care for immediate family members who are ill can access leave related options according to the applicable collective agreement or out of scope provisions.

Faculty and staff diagnosed with COVID -19 will be monitored by Saskatchewan Health Authority Public Health staff. Any return to work must be authorized by Public Health.

Working Remotely

We are not asking faculty and staff to stay home or work from home at this time, the campus remains open and we are only changing the modality of teaching at this time.

We have always allowed special working conditions and hours of work where it fits into university operations. This flexibility and practice will continue during this period. Further, for operations that can be done remotely we are allowing units to self-evaluate this operationally and make local arrangements on a case by case basis.

For employees who are at risk (i.e. immune compromised, live with, or are the primary care giver for someone who is immune compromised or have come into contact with someone who has returned from a high-risk and is ill) we will make every effort to accommodate these individuals to work from home.  These requests must be approved by the immediate manager and out of scope Director, AVP or Dean.  We ask each Director, AVP or Dean to keep a list of faculty and staff they have approved to work from home.

If, on the recommendation or direction from Public Health, faculty and staff are required to self-isolate, working remotely options will be explored. This extends to self-isolation to care for dependents that are required to self-isolate on direction from Public Health.

The Emergency Operations Centre continues to monitor this situation closely. At this time operations continue as normal. If operations change and faculty and staff are required to work remotely, further messaging will be provided.

If faculty and staff feel their work is unusually dangerous, they are to contact their direct supervisor immediately. The supervisor is to contact health.safety@uregina.ca. Faculty and staff have the right to refuse work where they have reasonable grounds and believe they are being asked to perform work that is unusually dangerous. A review by the U of R Occupational Health and Safety Committee will be required. For further information please see Article 20 (CUPE 5791) and Section 3-31 The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

Vacation Requests

If faculty and staff request vacation, managers should ask if they have plans on travelling out of province and which country or countries are part of their travel plans. Managers should attempt to dissuade any travel internationally (including to the U.S.)

 

Travel Restrictions

The University is not recommending any travel outside of Canada. Travel in Canada on University business will require a risk assessment and mitigation plan be completed and Deans or Directors approval. (insert link for forms)

Faculty and staff who are currently travelling (including the U.S.) for personal reasons will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after returning to Canada as a precaution.  Where possible faculty and staff required to self-isolate will be approved to work from home and will not be required to use their benefit entitlements.

If faculty and staff still decide to travel internationally, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.  Since the faculty or staff member is travelling at their own risk, he or she will be required to use their vacation entitlement benefits, such as vacation time to cover the isolation period.”

UPDATE MARCH 14, 8:24 P.M.: In a message sent via UR Courses earlier today by Lisa Robertson of the university’s athletics department, athletes were told of a number of changes to their schedule due to the virus. Below is the introduction to that communication.

“Just a quick update tonight from me, and I’m sending the University’s latest communication regarding the suspension of classes and the work being done to get more detailed communication out to students (below my note).

From my office, I want to let you know I will be in meetings tomorrow afternoon where we will discuss Faculty areas related to our non-academic business – Varsity Sport, Recreation, Facilities etc.

You can expect to hear from me again tomorrow evening.  In the meantime, practice proper hygiene, stay home if you are feeling unwell and use the resilience you’ve developed in sport to stay mentally healthy through a very unstable time for the world.

Be well,

Lisa”

The rest of the message is below.

“Student-Athletes,

(Please read carefully) As per the note below regarding the campus COVID-19 prevention measures, Cougars & Rams Athletics will take the following steps effective immediately:

Events:

• 4th & 5th Year Awards Celebration – Cancelled (student-athletes will be able to pick up their awards at a date to be determined)

• 45th Annual Athletics Awards & Hall of Fame Evening – Cancelled (teams, student-athletes and Coach of the Year awards will still be honoured via social media platforms and awards will again be available for pick up at a date to be determined). Hall of Fame induction will be moved to next year’s event

Team Training:

• Team S&C, running, agility, FB group East/West Training etc. – Suspended until the end of April (APHi Centre will keep open hours for individual training until notified otherwise)

• All team practices – Suspended until the end of April (gyms will remain open until notified otherwise)

• Student-athlete post season testing – No change

• Athletic Therapy – No change

Team Run Clubs/Camps:

• All club/academy/camps – Suspended until the end of April

Staff Travel:

All staff & student travel for PD/Recruiting/Training/Conferences – Suspended until the end of April (NIRSA & Cougars T[rack & F[ield] Training Camp included)

UPDATE MARCH 14, 6:50 P.M.: At 6:45 P.M. the campus received an email sent on behalf of Provost Tom Chase with another update to the university’s response to COVID-19. We have printed it here in full.

“Members of the University Community,

Since the announcement earlier today that all University of Regina classes are being suspended from Monday to Thursday inclusive in order to provide time to migrate courses over to distance learning by Friday, much work has already been undertaken.

Under the leadership of Dr. david Gregory, the group charged with academic continuity planning met Saturday morning to continue work on ensuring that we complete the Winter 2020 term, including final examinations, using alternate means of course delivery.

Details of these plans are being discussed with the Deans, who will have a central role in communicating them to their faculty members, staff, and students.

On Sunday, Deans’ Council will meet. Their focus will be how best to assist faculty members as they make the transition from face-to-face teaching to alternate means of course delivery for the rest of the Winter 2020 term. Again, the Deans will have a central role in coordinating this assistance within their Faculties, schools, and departments. Updates will be provided to the University community as they become available.

University Advancement and Communications has moved its COVID-19 specific content over to a new, more mobile-friendly website. Information is being added regularly to help keep our campus community up to date. This site will be an important tool as we navigate what for some, is the new reality of distance learning. Please visit it at https://www.uregina.ca/covid-19/ or it is also accessible from the University of Regina’s main webpage at https://www.uregina.ca.

Please note that program information, including issues of fieldwork, practica, and clinical placements, will be posted to this page as it becomes available. Students are asked not to inundate their instructors with queries, as faculty will be very busy preparing to move to distance delivery.

At universities across Canada, meeting the challenges posed by the pandemic is a very large task. Those challenges call on all of us to support each other in new ways. Patience, tolerance, and kindness are central, and will help to mitigate the stress many students, faculty, and staff are experiencing. The University’s Counselling Services (251 Riddell Centre) is available to assist.

Hundreds of people in every area of our campuses are putting in long hours in challenging circumstances to ensure that we complete the semester. I want to thank each and every one of them. Be assured that your work — your commitment to our students — is deeply appreciated.”

The Faculty of Education also posted to their Facebook page about internship and placement updates for students. We’ve written that particular statement out below.

“Instructions for #UREdu students regarding FIELD PLACEMENTS (Monday, March 16 to Thursday, March 19 inclusive):

#ECS100, and #ECS300 students will not attend their field placement during this time. Missing time in your field placements will not affect your credit attainment.

All students registered in #EFLD placements are expected to follow the direction of the school division in which they are completing their field. This means that students in EFLD placements; Pre-Intern (3 week block), and Intern students, will be expected to attend their placements while schools remain open.

All #ELNG200 student placements have been cancelled for the remainder of the semester.

Students who experience symptoms consistent with cold and flu, and the COVID – 19 virus, are to follow the advice and direction of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Public Health Agency of Canada, and remain at home.”

UPDATE MARCH 14, 6:19 PM: At 5:46 P.M. The University of Regina’s main Twitter account (@UofRegina) posted an update to all students. In it the campus highlighted that courses at regional colleges are not affected by the cancellation but that “courses delivered through our community-based learning programs such as the Lifelong Learning Centre, the Conservatory and English as a Second Language among others are being cancelled and those students are being notified.”

As part of the tweet, students were asked not to bother faculty or, in their words, “Students are asked not to inundate instructors with queries as they will be busy preparing for distance learning.”

The campus website is linked here.

Dr. Alec Couros of the Faculty of Education, when asked about the process of moving to distance learning, focused on just how challenging the work is, but also how much it can engage students in learning.

“I know that this transition is going to be very difficult and quite frustrating for a lot of faculty and students, and many of us who have taught online courses in the past have worked hard on this, and really try to do everything to make the learning experience great for students.

Given the short period of time that we have to offer courses online, it’s certainly not going to be a perfect experience. And, I don’t want students or professors to leave thinking that online learning isn’t very good for either.

But online learning does take a lot of work through the coordination of academics, instructional designers, educational developers, multimedia specialists, IT professionals, etc., and in a crisis like this, there won’t be adequate time to prepare for highly engaging instructional facilitation.”

UPDATE MARCH 14, 4:56 PM: Media, Art, and Performance Dean Rae Staseson said in a message that “Things came up and changed rapidly, It is a challenging time and we need to look after each other.” MAP, like many other faculties we spoke to, are working around the clock, as one source put it, to track the way forward.

UPDATE MARCH 14, 3:36 PM (edited at 4:50 to reflect new information specific to KHS): In a phone call with Provost Tom Chase it has been confirmed that students are to communicate with their faculty and department supervisors, up to and including deans, to determine if their fieldwork and co-op placements will continue. The same is true for the move to distance delivery for faculty as, in the words of Chase, some faculties have routines for distance learning that “are already established.” The carillon will be reaching out to each Dean to find out how each faculty is approaching this area of concerns for many of the campus’ students.  Kinesiology is currently proceeding as normal, according to Associate Dean Doug Cripps.

“Our practice for field work now is no different than it always has been. We respect our host partners decisions. With regard to your other question [about whether meetings are scheduled to discuss the way forward for the faculty] many areas of the university are working long hours now, tomorrow, Monday, and in the coming days and weeks ahead to ensure we complete the term.”

Cripps urged students to contact the faculty with their concerns. An email seen by the carillon that was sent to a fieldwork student does mention a meeting by the faculty on Monday. It also includes the directive  to “make decisions to keep yourself healthy!”

UPDATE MARCH 14, 1: 49 PM: An exact replica of the lit serv email detailed below three hours ago was sent to the entire campus community. The suspension of classes affect all U of R campuses, including the federated colleges. Any instruction from now on will be, as the release says, “from distance.” The carillon is cancelling the printing of our newspaper for the upcoming week, but will continue working online only.

UPDATE MARCH 14, 10:52 AM: On the morning of Mar. 14 the University of Regina confirmed what those who have read the below article already understand: that the two students tested have come back negative for the virus. In addition, an email was sent out on the President’s Litserv from Provost Thomas Chase (essentially, an email blast). We’ve printed it below.

“Members of the University community,

The University of Regina is suspending all classes and labs (both face-to-face and those currently offered online) from Monday, March 16 through Thursday, March 19.  During this time, the University will remain open.

This four-day period of suspended classes will:

  • reduce the possibility of COVID-19 being spread on our campuses;
  • ease the degree of stress students are currently experiencing;
  • allow faculties and teaching staff to make the necessary arrangements to deliver coursework at a distance for their students going forward; and
  • allow the faculties to communicate clearly and consistently with students regarding the continuation of academic programming.

Given the gravity of the COVID-19 challenge, no face-to-face instruction will take place for the rest of the term.  Beginning on Friday, March 20, classes will resume through teaching at a distance only.  Teaching at a distance will continue through the remainder of the Winter 2020 semester.

Once determined, the process for completing final exams at a distance will be communicated to students well in advance of the exam period.

A further update will be provided later today at www.uregina.ca.

In the meantime, I wish to reassure students, faculty and staff that the University remains committed to their health and safety.  We are working to ensure students’ continued progress through their academic programs in the current term.

Thank you for your patience and understanding at what I know is a challenging time.”

The university also released a video which we have embedded here.

ORIGINAL STORY

On the evening of Mar. 13 the carillon confirmed via a phone call with Provost Thomas Chase (and later in an obtained email) that the University of Regina would be cancelling classes from Monday Mar. 16 to Thursday, Mar. 19. The days away from campus are meant to allow for a transition to online-based learning and for the campus to plan its continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent communication from the university was a Facebook post announcing that more details would be provided on Mar. 14. Many faculty and staff are expressing concern that this cancellation may be misinformation as no campus faculty the carillon has communicated with were aware of anything other than the earlier email announcing what amounts to business as usual, albeit with extra precautions.

The University of Regina caused confusion, as evidenced by the comment sections of both this newspaper and the University of Regina Students’ Union, by sending out a campus-wide release on behalf of Chase at 6:43 p.m. announcing the cancellation of all campus events until April 30, but confirming that classes were scheduled to continue. We have chosen to print that email in full given the contradictory developments afterwards.

“In consultation with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Ministry of Advanced Education, and in alignment with today’s release of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 new prevention measures, the University of Regina is cancelling all non-essential events on and off campus that are not directly tied to the academic progress of students until April 30, 2020, at which point it will be reassessed. This includes third party events and activities that have been booked to occur on campus. University organized or sponsored public lectures and events as well as non-academic student events/gatherings are cancelled until further notice. For any event for which a fee was paid by attendees, the fee will be refunded. Please contact the event organizers directly to receive a refund.”

“We understand the effort that goes into planning and developing these events and regret the necessity to make this difficult decision. However, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is paramount and cancelling events that are not core to the teaching and research mandate of the University to facilitate social distancing is the right thing to do.”

“For now, classes, seminars, labs, field work and work experience activities will continue. As well individual drop-in counselling, UR Guarantee, and advising sessions will continue. A separate notification will be sent out should there be any changes required to these activities. Please continue to monitor your email and the website for updates.”

“In public spaces where groups still gather, we are encouraging people to practice social distancing and careful hygiene.”

“To help prevent the spread of COVID-19  it is important for everyone to follow appropriate health precautions: wash hands often and for at least 20 seconds; cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or the bend of your elbow; avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands, practice social distancing by avoiding shaking hands or hugging and keeping your distance from anyone who is ill, if you become sick avoid contact with others, self-isolate, monitor your symptoms and immediately report worsening of symptoms to a healthcare provider, HealthLine 811, or if it is an emergency 911. Please refer to the HS&W COVID-19 web page, for the latest updates on this issue.”

It was prior to this email being sent that the carillon confirmed that classes would be cancelled. It is unclear at time of writing (late in the evening of Mar. 13) whether Chase was aware the email assuring somewhat business as usual principles were in place was meant to be sent out. At 7:56 p.m. the latter email was sent by Chase to the Deans’ Council and University Leadership Team confirming the news of the cancellation of classes. We have chosen to also produce it in full. There has been no indication that this information was sent to anyone outside of the Deans’ Council and the University Leadership Team.

“Dear members of Deans’ Council and ULT,

First, some good news just received from Public Health via Darren Cherwaty. Both students who had self-isolated have tested negative for COVID-19.

Thank you for the meeting earlier this afternoon. I appreciate your commitment as we work together to address the challenges posed by the current pandemic.

They are many and complex. We are certainly going to stumble and make mistakes. Together, however, we will ensure that health and safety are paramount, and that students’ needs are central in all our decisions.

Late this afternoon, we confirmed with the Ministry that the University of Regina will suspend classes Monday 16 March through Thursday 19 March.

This suspension will permit faculty to move face-to-face courses to alternate means of delivery, and will provide students with a brief respite as we work to ensure the continuance of the semester.

As you know, david Gregory [Dean of Nursing] and his committee are working extremely hard, including over the weekend, to ensure that arrangements are in place and students have the information they need. They will doubtless be reaching out to you as required. I know they can count on your assistance.

Similarly, we will count on Deans to be key sources of accurate information for the students in your respective Faculties and Colleges

I need also to highlight the superb work being done by Art Exner and IS [Information Services, Neil [Paskewitz] and FM [Facilities Management], Kelly [Kummerfield] and HR, and Lamont [Stradeski]  and FS [Financial Services] to ensure that campus operations continue without a hitch.

Together, we will need at times to respond to misinformation, confusion, fear, and anger, all of it amplified by social media. I know we can and will overcome this.

Thank you again for your collegiality and commitment to students. As we work through this, let’s bear in mind Vianne’s vision for our campuses as embodying the world we want to build.”

URSU President Victor Oriola also put out a statement after the news broke.

“Following discussions held earlier today with senior University of Regina administration, I can confirm that classes will be suspended Monday to Thursday next week as the University transitions to distance-learning delivery. We anticipate official communication to this effect shortly and will continue to update you as the situation develops.
For more information, please see:
https://www.uregina.ca/hr/hsw/Coronavirus/index.html
https://www.saskatchewan.ca/…/emergi…/2019-novel-coronavirus
https://www.canada.ca/…/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.ht…
https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.”

For more on how we got here, read below

The University of Regina’s first communication with students about the pandemic was in a student affairs campus wide email sent on Jan. 27. The email, signed by Student Affairs’ John Smith, told students students that “Due to the outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus originating in China, the University is taking a proactive approach to ensure faculty, staff and students travelling to and from China are aware of, and take steps to mitigate, their risk of contracting or spreading the virus.” An email the same day refuted social media rumours of infections on campus at that time and laid out an approval process for travel to affected areas that would soon be rescinded.

The next email sent to the wider campus community was on Jan. 30 on behalf of Darren Cherwaty who is the director of health, safety, and wellness for the University of Regina. That email read, in part, “Yesterday the province’s Chief Medical Officer, Saqib Sahab, advised that there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Saskatchewan and although they are currently testing four people for it, he suspects they likely have the flu. He also advised people to ignore rumours circulating on social media and said that if there is a confirmed case in Saskatchewan, it will be formally announced by public health officials.” The email also reminded recipients of the relevant travel advisories in place.

The next update came on Feb. 7, with another email from Cherwaty, this time announcing new measures and Government of Canada advisories.

“As a result of these new advisories, all travel by faculty, researchers and students to China that is sponsored or funded by the University, including research grants, is cancelled until these advisories are lifted. This travel ban is in effect immediately and supersedes the previous travel approval process emailed to the campus community on January 27, 2020. The cancellation of all centrally-organized and funded travel to China also announced on January 27, 2020, remains in effect.”

The next update sent was on Feb. 26 and read, in part, “Effective immediately, all travel to these areas (including previously approved travel that has not yet occurred) by faculty, researchers, staff and students that the University is funding or sponsoring will require the Dean’s approval of the COVID-19 Travel Risk Assessment Form and must include a risk mitigation plan . . .”

“The emergency operations group convened in response to this coronavirus outbreak continues to monitor the situation and will provide updates as required. All University of Regina communications regarding this matter – as well as links to related public health and government sites – are available at: https://www.uregina.ca/hr/hsw/Coronavirus/index.html.”

The next updates came a week apart on Mar. 3 and 10, both from Cherwaty’s office. The first updated the travel advisories and procedures in relation to campus travel.

“As a precautionary measure the University has implemented a process for all travel or travel restrictions to areas where the Government of Canada has issued a level 2 or 3 travel advisory due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel (new) coronavirus.”

“No travel by faculty, researchers, staff and students that the University is funding or sponsoring is allowed for areas with a level 3 advisory. Areas with a level 2 advisory require the Dean’s approval of the COVID-19 Travel Risk Assessment form, including a risk mitigation plan, which can be found at: https://www.uregina.ca/hr/hsw/Coronavirus/index.html.”

“Rather than issuing a new campus notification of each new level 2 or 3 travel advisory the University has added a listing of these advisories to the Health, Safety & Wellness (HS&W) web page at:  https://www.uregina.ca/hr/hsw/Coronavirus/index.html. This list will be kept updated as required.”

“It is the responsibility of the person submitting a Travel Authorization Request Form for travel to check the HS&W page to confirm if they are travelling to a level 2 or 3 advisory area. The deans will also be responsible for ensuring travellers are complying with these requirements.”

The Mar. 10 email provided members of the campus community with a brief FAQ (frequently asked questions) section and a link to the uregina website that lists answers to common queries. An email the next day announced actions that those affected could take in case of infection and reiterated a need for calm.

“While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our province, our city, or on our campuses, the University of Regina has been working on its containment and contingency planning to minimize any potential impact on our students, faculty and staff. Our University Emergency Operations Centre has been working with public health officials and our post-secondary partners to monitor the situation and prepare for possible outcomes.”

“Our focus is on the health and safety of our entire campus community. This requires that we all work together to limit exposure and transmission of the virus by elevating our personal hygiene habits and practising social distancing.”

The email was also the first time the administration acknowledged the possibility of moving learning online.

“The University is considering and preparing for a wide variety of measures that may be necessary at some point, including but not limited to:

  • alternative delivery of courses, such as on-line or via video-conferencing;
  • options for adjusting syllabi and course requirements for students;
  • alternatives for students to write final exams which are normally held in the gymnasiums, etc.;
  • academic coordination between all campuses and academic partners including regional colleges and satellite campuses;
  • and managing potential impacts on the University’s research programs.”

“A COVID-19 Academic sub-committee under the leadership of the Dean of Nursing, Dr. david Gregory, has been formed to proactively manage these and other issues.”

Mar. 12 saw an update that confirmed that two students living on campus were in self-isolation, as reported by various media outlets.

“The University of Regina, in consultation with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, has made arrangements for two of its student residents to self-isolate. The students are experiencing flu-like symptoms, so this is a precautionary move in accordance with the plans and protocols we have in place to manage the threat of COVID-19. Self-isolation is not unusual as a number of people in the province have self-isolated as part of a routine response to reporting flu-like symptoms or potential exposure based on travel history.”

“It is important to note that these are not confirmed cases of COVID-19. Test results are pending.”

“It is critical that our campus community remains calm. As we have communicated extensively, the University is following the advice of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Public Health Agency of Canada in all of our containment and contingency planning. Our focus is on the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as we work to limit exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19. “

Which brings us to the information that began this article. Classes are cancelled from Monday to Thursday inclusive. We understand leaders of the campus community are meeting over the weekend to determine next steps and that updates and a statement will be provided publicly tomorrow afternoon.

We will update this story as it develops. It is unclear how already planned online classes and Saturday classes already scheduled are to be impacted. The Carillon will continue to publish online but will not be producing a weekly paper until further notice.

1 comment

  1. Anonymous 14 March, 2020 at 08:44

    Thank-you for the very detailed, accurate and honest article of the situation I’ve read so far. I really hope people see what you’ve wrote and it clears up any confusion.

    I feel the U of R administration really dropped the ball on this one and I don’t like the, “us against the world” tone surrounding the social media reaction. If anything, the fact that the U of R is being seen in a negative light on social media should be a wake up call that there isn’t enough information to prevent it and something NEEDS to change.

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