FAQs

Updated November 4, 2020

Winter 2021 semester

How will classes be held in the winter semester?

Winter 2021 courses will be delivered primarily through remote platforms, but with enhanced in-person teaching activities planned across all Faculties. Access to study hubs, student services, and other student-facing offices will be enhanced as public health guidelines permit.

In-person teaching activities, where possible, will be planned according to the following priorities:

  • Tier 1: Critical laboratories, clinical activities, project courses, and other experiential in-person components of courses, including those required for graduating students;
  • Tier 2: Seminar courses, tutorials, conference sections, and some lectures.

You can learn more about the different tiers here.

Special attention is being paid to students who cannot attend such activities, and Faculties will work to ensure that graduating students can meet their program requirements in a timely fashion. Students may be expected to be present for essential in-person course requirements provided there are no public health protocols to prevent this. Throughout October, Faculties will be communicating with students about the nature of such essential in-person course requirements.

Why does the University want to increase in-person teaching activities?

  • We want to ensure that students can take courses and other academic activities that need to be done in-person (Tier 1) so that their degree progression and graduation is not delayed.
  • For Tier 2 activities, many students have told us that they are struggling with learning entirely online. A large proportion of our students are located in Montreal, and we want to give those students the option of some in-person activities.
  • As we look longer-term, planning for in-person activities under some COVID-19 restrictions may need to continue beyond the Winter 2021 term; we will learn through this planning process and be able to adapt accordingly and in a way that allows us to successfully deliver our academic programs.

Will students be required to be present on campus in the Winter 2021 semester?

  • Students in Tier 1 classes will be required to be present on campus in Winter 2021—if you have a Tier 1 class, you will have already been informed by your Faculty, department or instructor.
  • All other students can choose whether or not to be present on campus—there may be some in-person learning opportunities if the public health situation allows, but these opportunities will be complemented with a remote alternative, just like in the Fall 2020 semester.

Will instructors and TAs be required to come back to teach in-person courses or components of courses?

  • If a Faculty determines an academic activity requires in-person teaching, instructors and/or TAs will be required to complete their work on campus. Since March, if employees need to be on campus to do their work, they have been required to do so.
  • The University administration has put in place the required measures so that our community members can work in a safe environment. To date, there has been no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 in McGill workspaces or during academic activities—the only two cases of transmission on our campuses have occurred due to students socializing in McGill residences. This indicates that our health and safety measures are effective in keeping our community safe.
  • We believe it is extremely important to give students the option for in-person activities, strictly following public health guidelines.
  • Of course, employees who are at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19 should consult with HR disability management at disability.hr [at] mcgill.ca.

Why are we planning for in-person activities in Winter 2021 when we are currently in a red alert zone and Quebec is seeing an average of 1,000 cases a day?

  • Tier 1 activities are deemed as essential and are currently operating safely during the Fall 2020 term, even under the current conditions. Unless the red alert restrictions change, we can continue to deliver these activities.
  • As the public health situation is extremely fluid, we need to plan for some in-person options for Tier 2 activities in order to give students the richest set of opportunities that we can.
  • We could still be operating under some public health restrictions into the Summer and Fall 2021 terms. Even if the public health situation means we cannot offer many Tier 2 activities in Winter 2021, the planning will be useful for later in the year.

Won’t the extra workload of adding in-person teaching activities have a negative impact on instructors?

  • This year has not been easy for anyone. Instructors have been asked to adapt to different ways of teaching and working. For many people, this may have caused additional stress and an increased workload.
  • Faculties and academic leaders have been brainstorming to find ways to add in-person activities with minimal additional workload for instructors. Teaching personnel are not being asked to double-up on their teaching by delivering a course in-person and remotely.
  • Teaching and Learning Services has been working closely with Faculties and instructors, and will support instructors in creating some in-person teaching experiences that are mindful of concerns about workload.
  • Instructors who have concerns about their mental health are encouraged to reach out to the Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Will students who cannot be present for in-person activities be disadvantaged?

  • Students will likely find that a mix of remote and in-person academic activities will make for a more engaging learning environment. However, students who cannot be present for optional in-person activities will not be academically disadvantaged. Remote options will be available.
  • Students are expected to be present for Tier 1 learning activities, and your Faculty or department will notify you if that is the case. The Canadian borders are now open to international students studying at McGill. However, students who cannot attend Tier 1 activities due to special travel restrictions or other circumstances should contact their Department or Student Affairs Office for guidance.

Will masks or face coverings be required by everyone in a classroom?

  • If students are seated 2 meters apart and not moving around the space, public health guidelines do not currently require them to wear masks or face coverings.
  • If instructors are separated from the students by at least two meters, they also have the option of removing their face covering.
  • An instructor may encourage students to wear masks or face coverings but cannot require it.
  • We are following the public health directives on masks, as we have been doing since the start of the pandemic. We have had many in-person teaching activities and there have been no evidence of COVID-19 transmission using the current protocol for masks and distancing in the classroom.

Could classes resume on campus in the winter semester?

Classes will be primarily delivered through remote platforms with the exceptions noted above. If classes begin remotely, they will finish remotely. Students will not be expected to travel to McGill in the middle of a term for classes.

Can we travel to Canada for the winter semester?

International students with valid documentation can now travel to Canada to study at McGill. You'll still need to self-isolate for 14 days and present a quarantine plan at the border. Learn more here.

How does this work for students in different time zones?

Instructors are aware of the challenges students face when learning remotely and will be supported in adapting their courses in light of this; instructors will be encouraged to consider teaching approaches that take into consideration students who are studying in different time zones.

Will internships continue in the winter?

If organizations offering internships are able to adopt proper safety protocols, internships could continue in the winter.

Will residences be open in the winter?

At a minimum, residences will remain open for students who cannot return home or have no other housing options. The public health situation will determine whether the University is accepting new students into residence in the Winter 2021 term.

Fall semester

How will classes be held in the fall semester?

The Fall 2020 term will begin as scheduled, with courses being offered primarily through remote delivery.

Even with fall courses being primarily delivered remotely, the University is committed to safely re-establishing a vibrant campus experience for our students, which may include in-person teaching activities through teaching hubs, safely designed study and learning spaces, and other innovative opportunities for student engagement. For students who are not in Montreal, on-campus learning activities will be complemented virtually.

Could classes resume on campus in the fall semester?

No – classes that begin remotely will finish remotely, including exams.

Can we travel to Canada for the fall semester?

The International Student Services team is working diligently to support our students abroad. Please consult the International Student Services website to learn more about cross-border travel restrictions.

How does this work for students in different time zones?

This is an important consideration as we continue academic planning. Instructors are aware of the challenges students face when learning remotely and will be supported in adapting their courses in light of this; instructors will be encouraged to consider teaching approaches that take into consideration students who are studying in different time zones.

Will tuition be reduced now that classes are held remotely?

Please refer to Tuition for Fall 2020.

Will non-tuition charges be reduced now that classes are held remotely?

How will hands-on learning like labs and fieldwork be taught remotely?

We are exploring options such as virtual labs, simulations, and multimedia resources. Not all courses are suited to the same tools and solutions, but professors are collaborating to identify creative, engaging approaches for remote delivery.

Many laboratories will be redesigned to ensure they can be offered remotely.

What about clinical activities that don’t have remote alternatives?

Some clinical activities that do not have a remote alternative may happen on campus, if they can be held safely. Deans will work with the Administration in the coming weeks to determine which activities might continue in-person. We recognize that in some disciplines, like health professions, clinical work is necessary for academic continuity.

Will internships continue in the fall?

If organizations offering internships are able to adopt proper safety protocols, internships could continue in the fall.

Will residences be open in the fall?

If you have applied to live in residence but the pandemic prevents you from travelling to Montreal when you had intended, we will reserve you a room in residences until you can arrive and we will either pause your rent or credit your rental fees accordingly (depending on when you are able to let us know of your plans). For more information on residences, visit their FAQs.

How will students lacking the right technology for remote learning be supported?

McGill is exploring new methods and platforms, and working to adapt course material and programming to be as accessible as possible — including for students who may not have high-speed devices or internet access. Courses will be formatted in ways that take into account these potential challenges.

McGill is a member of Eduroam, a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. Students who have access to a local research university campus who is also an Eduroam member can use their McGill credentials to access McGill’s IT infrastructure using the local campus Wi-Fi infrastructure (at no cost). Most research universities around the world have access to Eduroam. For more information, please visit McGill’s Knowledge Base.

Academics and Research

When will research resume on campus?

Research is gradually ramping up on campus. Consult announcements on research activities for the latest information on research phase-in. Review the principles and procedures for research on campus.

What resources are available for remote instruction and learning?

Where can I find information on graduate activities and research?

The office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is providing important information on graduate studies during the pandemic.

McGill Operations

What facilities and services are available?

  • Online library services are available during the campus closure. McGill Libraries also offers Terrace Pickup for print books housed in the McLennan-Redpath Library Complex and the Nahum Gelber Law Library. As this service expands, materials from other collections may become available. This service is only for print books that are not available electronically or through the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service.
  • Virtual services for students are available.
  • Staff and graduate students may park for free on campus until further notice, but must complete the COVID-19 suspension period parking registration webform. Anyone parking on campus who is not registered with Parking and Transportation Services, including permit holders, will be ticketed. Only exterior lots are open. If you already hold a McGill parking permit, you will be assigned to your regular lot, or, if you normally park in a garage, to the nearest exterior lot.

Can I access buildings on campus?

Buildings are currently classified according to three categories, depending on activity levels. As the University take significant steps to increase the resumption of all types of activities across our campuses, buildings may change categories. The Directives for the Resumption of On-Campus Activities lists the necessary approvals for accessing buildings.

When will the University resume regular on-campus operations?

The Fall 2020 term will begin as scheduled, with courses being offered primarily through remote delivery. Even with fall courses being primarily delivered remotely, the University is committed to safely re-establishing a vibrant campus experience for our students, which may include in-person teaching activities through teaching hubs, safely designed study and learning spaces, and other innovative opportunities for student engagement.

What is the status of parking, mail services and delivery on-campus?

Working during the closure

What tools and resources are available to work remotely?

Please see IT’s website, Working Remotely, which provides extensive information.

  • Zoom is available to instructors, and reserved for teaching and learning activities
  • MS Teams is available to all employees for collaborative work (web conferencing, chat, etc.)
  • WebEx is available to employees for all Web conferencing needs

What policies are in place for people who are authorized to work on campus?

The University is taking significant steps to increase the resumption of all types of activities across our campuses. Before coming to work on campus, employees should consult the health guidelines and watch training videos for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

What health and wellness services are available to staff?

The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EAP) offers resources to support staff members’ mental and emotional well-being.

Where can employees find more information on working during the closure?

HR is providing important updates for staff on their COVID-19 Resources page.

Coronavirus and your health

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms are similar to the flu: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

  • Stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. Every day before coming to campus, all students and employees must answer three questions about symptoms through the appropriate Minerva form. Do not come to campus if you answered “yes” to any of the questions.

  • Isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible
  • Immediately call Montreal’s coronavirus hotline at 514-644-4545, or 1-877-644-4545 if you are elsewhere in Quebec
    • Describe your symptoms and travel history  to the health professionals on the hotline
    • Follow their instructions carefully
  • Stay at home until the Public Health Authority advises you that you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus to others
  • If you develop COVID-related symptoms while on campus, you should:
    • Isolate in a room
    • Wear a face covering
    • Inform your supervisor. Supervisors have received detailed instructions about how to handle such situations.
    • Call Santé Québec at 514-644-4545 for information on next steps.

Should I report if I am self-isolating, or have tested positive for COVID-19?

  • All students and staff who have received a positive test result for COVID-19 must follow guidelines for reporting illness.
  • Employees who are required to be on campus to provide necessary activities, but are unable to do so because they must self-isolate, must use the self-declaration form.
  • Students in residence should report their status by contacting Student Housing and Hospitality Services at housing.residences [at] mcgill.ca ( ).

Rest assured that this information will be treated confidentially. The University will only share personal information with the Direction de la santé publique (DSP) as required. Personal information will not be shared with the community.

People who are ill, have been exposed to COVID-19, or are awaiting test results must isolate immediately as per the government of Quebec’s guidelines for home isolation. 

What protocol is the University following should there be a positive case on campus?

  • The University has developed a protocol for suspected on-campus cases that include the following actions:
    • Closure of affected work area(s), which may include common rooms.
    • Thorough cleaning and disinfection of closed areas before reopening.
    • Coordination with Direction de la Santé Publique
    • Communication to affected individual regarding steps to take
    • Decontamination of affected areas
    • Investigation by EHS or local safety committee chair to review of established safety protocol and assess whether there is any evidence pointing to a deficiency in the safety protocol or its application.
    • Implementation of corrective measures if needed
    • Communication of outcomes

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

  • As per Quebec government directives, it is mandatory to wear a mask or face covering in indoor public places, including universities.
  • Practice proper health precautions, including washing your hands often and covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.
  • Practice social distancing: This means limiting close contact with people and especially avoiding crowds.

For more information, view the Government of Canada’s guidelines on COVID-19 prevention.

Should I wear a mask?

As per Quebec government directives, it is mandatory to wear a mask or face covering in indoor public places, including universities. It is especially important to wear a covering when there is interaction with other people and physical distancing (2 metres) is not possible. Conditions and/or exceptions to the mandatory mask rule may apply in areas such as in office spaces, labs, classrooms, etc.

The University encourages people to bring their own reusable masks to campus. In the event you do not have your own masks, disposable masks will be made available upon request.

More details will come as implementation is further clarified by Government and public health authorities.

What health services are available for staff and students?

Students: The Student Wellness Hub offers a variety of services related to health and wellness.

Staff: The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EAP) offers resources to support staff members’ mental and emotional well-being.

For information on specific topics like admissions, student services, and more, consult related FAQs and our archive of announcements. If you have trouble finding answers to your questions, contact COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

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