COVID-19 - March 16 - Update from Dean Maioni

Published: 19 March 2020

Sent March 16, 2020

Dear Members of the Faculty of the Arts,

The past few days have been stressful for you as the students, instructors, researchers and administrators who make up the Faculty of Arts community at McGill as we respond to the call to action to contain the propagation of COVID-19. This update is to reassure you that the Faculty and University are making every effort to do so in a responsible manner, and to summarize all of the information being communicated.

As you all know, the overall principles underlying all of McGill University’s actions to date and in the coming weeks have been to maximize the well-being and ensure the safety of health and safety of our students and administrative and teaching staff. We have also been guided by a commitment to adaptation as a community in this rapidly evolving situation.

As Dean of Arts, I have been in constant contact with the other Deans of Faculties as well as the Academic Planning Group and the Emergency Operations Centre of the university administration. The Associate Deans and I have also been updating Chairs and Directors, as well as the Director of Administration, on all of these fronts.

The University is endeavouring to keep you informed in a timely manner of the directives being put into place to address this to this unprecedented public health crisis. The University also maintains a webpage with regular updates and FAQs: In addition to these directives and information, and in the interest of ensuring that the entire Faculty of Arts community is well-informed about more Faculty-specific issues, I will be sending updates in this format that will summarize and highlight all of the pertinent information being transmitted by various sources to ensure clear and comprehensive communication is available for all our members.

The sections below summarize this information, as well as identifying the Associate Deans to whom you may reach out to for help or guidance. Although I can no longer keep the promise that “my door is always open” in a physical sense, rest assured that all of us – your Dean, Associate Deans, Chairs and Directors – are here for you, to offer help, resources, advice and any additional information you feel you need. Please contact either myself (Antonia.maioni [at] or Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs (jim.engle-warnick [at] should you have any concerns.

Remember, first and foremost, your health is of primary concern: keep practicing health precautions, such as good hygiene and social distancing, and contact 1-877-644-4545 should you develop symptoms of the virus:

We all appreciate your patience and resolve as we contribute to address this global pandemic.


Antonia Maioni

Dean of Arts


  • March 16-March 27 inclusive: Classes suspended, all on-campus events cancelled
  • April 14: Teaching semester ends
  • April 30: Exam period ends; No in-person final examinations

FOR ARTS STUDENTS: For questions and concerns, please contact Associate Dean lucy.lach [at] (Lucy Lach) (lucy.lach [at]

  • During the class suspension period, students are not responsible for any NEW content. Students are not required to submit assignments nor should any other kind of assessment, optional or otherwise, be due during this suspension period. If you are being advised otherwise, students should contact Professor Jim Engle-Warnick confidentially at jim.engle-warnick [at]
  • The last 2 weeks of classes will be delivered, to the extent that it is possible, remotely. There will be no face-to-face classes held. Instructors are currently redesigning their course syllabi to take into account the last 2 weeks of remote delivery of coursework and no in-person final examinations. Students should expect to see these modified syllabi by March 24.
  • The Faculty of Arts has temporarily changed its policy regarding existing online courses. All courses completed online during this period will be considered, including online courses for the completion of program requirements.
  • Arts OASIS advisors are available online (see You can email them at advisor.arts [at] Students with queries regarding study away should email studyaway.arts [at] They will be using email and an platform to communicate with you.
  • Students planning to go abroad: Going forward, travelling abroad is not recommended for any student. The Faculty of Arts will not be disbursing any Faculty funding for undergraduate student travel abroad through the end of the summer. International summer internships abroad are cancelled. Travel plans for study abroad for Fall 2020 are not being approved at this time.
  • Students who are abroad: The federal government has issued a statement for Canadians to return from abroad. Canadian students who are studying abroad must weigh the consequences of remaining where they are versus travelling back to Canada. If you are an international student, be advised that travel restrictions may prevent you from returning to Canada. Please keep informed:

FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS AND RESEARCH: For questions and concerns, please contact Associate Dean Tabitha Sparks (Tabitha.sparks [at]

  • PHD comprehensive/oral exams are suspended.
  • PhD Oral Defences: Scheduled defences will be maintained but held online using Zoom.
  • Thesis submissions: Initial thesis submissions will be processed and sent out for examination. Examiner reports will be collected and communicated to units. Final theses will continue to be processed.
  • Graduate student research activities: questions related to the continuation of their research activities in this context should contact their Graduate Program Directors and/or the Associate Deans at GPS.
  • Progress Tracking / Supervisory Committee meetings are suspended.
  • As on-campus research activities at McGill University are being ramped down due to the current crisis and the importance of preserving the health and safety of our community, all non-essential research activities on campus must be suspended.
  • Graduate researchers and research assistants should not be on campus, and Research Centres will be closed unless they have been granted special exemptions by the Dean.
  • All research-related events (seminars, workshops, conferences, speakers) are cancelled during the two-week suspension period.
  • The Tri-agencies have posted the following update:

FOR INSTRUCTORS: For questions and concerns, please contact Associate Dean Michael Fronda (Michael.Fonda [at]

  • Assessments due or scheduled to take place during the two-week suspension of teaching should be deferred until after March 30. This includes any on-line teaching or assessments, or any new or optional content. Students may not be penalized for not submitting work that had been originally due in these two weeks
  • Please do not have assignments due or tests scheduled immediately following (i.e., within two or three days of) the two-week suspension since students will need time to prepare.
  • Instructors can communicate with students to reassure them that necessary adjustments to courses given the current circumstances are being explored. Instructors may wish to hold some open office hours/Q&A sessions online (e.g., via Zoom).
  • The University’s Student Assessment Policy is not suspended. However, given the circumstances, the University will allow instructors leeway to revise the assessment structure and grade weights in their courses. No exams should be worth 100%.
  • Changes to course outlines (i.e., reflecting the revised assessments and evaluation schemes) must to be communicated to your students (posted on MyCourses or notification by email) before 24 March. Instructors in Arts will be canvassed by their Chairs and Directors with regards to adapting the remainder of their courses’ content and assessment. This information will be used to help the Faculty and University identify the current capacity and the support needed to deliver courses online, etc.
  • Alternatives to the final exam sit-down format, such as online and/or take-home exams, are being explored, and more information on this will be communicated shortly.
  • The current exam schedule should be respected to the extent possible considering timed alternatives to sit-down exams may occur for some classes. This will reduce conflicts and allow instructors and students to plan their workload as much as possible.
  • Teaching and Learning Services has very useful information for instructors to help them deal with the disruption to classes, and for retooling their courses for online delivery ( and a webform for submitting further questions (

FOR ADMINSITRATIVE STAFF: For questions and concerns, please contact Director of Administration Richard Courtois (Richard.courtois [at]

  • McGill administration will remain operational for the duration of the two-week suspension, beginning on Tuesday, March 17.
  • 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.
  • Only necessary/essential 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 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, where guidance is provided.


IT Information for staff:

How to find your work computer name? (We can assist with this if required)

click Start > type "This PC" > right click This PC – Properties – full computer name is what you will require – 123-xxxxxxxx.campus.MCGILL.CA

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VPN Setup


Remote desktop connection

Support staff are asked to use the following tools: 

  1. MS Teams is currently available to all employees for all collaborative work (web conferencing, chat, etc.)  
  2. WebEx will soon be available to employees for all Web conferencing needs.  
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