FAQs

Updated March 18, 2021

Fall 2021 semester

Will it be mandatory for students and staff to be on campus in the Fall?

We are returning to in-person activities to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, all students, faculty and staff should be in Montreal so that they can be onsite at McGill for the Fall term. While some components of courses will harness the pedagogical benefits of online teaching, students and teaching staff are expected to plan for a more regular rhythm of on-campus academic activity by September. The University will also continue to develop plans for a progressive return to on-campus work for administrative and support staff, with the goal of achieving a regular presence by September 2021, as the public health situation allows.

Will staff still be allowed to work from home if they choose?

The Flexible Work Arrangements Pilot Program for administrative and support staff, which launched shortly before the pandemic, is still active. The program allows approved staff to work from home one day per week.

Will there be in-person lectures in high capacity classrooms such as Leacock 132, (which holds over 600 students)?

We are not planning for large lectures to be held in person in classrooms such as Leacock 132. Classes with larger enrolment will therefore have lectures available through remote delivery, but those courses will also offer other kinds of in-person activities at a lower density.

If a student is planning whether to move to Montreal, when can they expect to know which of their classes will have online lectures?

When Fall registration opens, there will be indications about the mode of delivery for most courses. However, most of the larger classes with online lectures will still have some in-person component that would require students to be on campus, so we advise all students to make plans to be in Montreal in September.

Will in-person lectures be recorded?

We are looking at our recording system capacity and will build up capacity in some areas, depending on the planning scenarios and needs within Faculties. Some lectures may be recorded, but the default planning position for smaller classes will be in-person lectures only.

Will members of the community be required to have vaccines before they come on campus?

There is a very high degree of certainty that all at-risk people will be vaccinated before we start the Fall semester. Therefore we do not currently anticipate a requirement to show proof of vaccination before coming to campus in the Fall.

Will McGill have its own vaccination center?

This remains to be seen. We are currently in discussion with the government about how the vaccination rollout may look when the focus is on the general population (people between 16 and 60 who have no specific health risk, and are not in a priority profession).

Will the Fall 2021 semester still be in-person if many in the McGill community aren’t yet vaccinated?

Our academic planning is being done in a way that includes consideration of different kinds of scenarios. That being said, we are confident that students will be able to learn in-person even if some public health restrictions remain in place and even if vaccination is not universal. We offered some in-person teaching during the 2020-2021 academic year and have very good protocols to ensure we can pursue academic activities safely. We also remain optimistic that the vaccination situation in Quebec will mean that many will have vaccinations by September, and that will help ensure we can offer our in-person academic activities.

Will international students be able to get vaccinated in Canada?

Currently the vaccination is offered to anybody who is legally in Canada, but the rollout has yet to be expanded to include the age range of most students. We continue to monitor the situation and will advise the community when there is a definite answer.

I’m an international student. What do I do if there are travel restrictions, flight limitations, or other barriers to me being able to come to Montreal?

We realize that the announcement about Fall 2021 will raise a lot of questions and concerns from international students. Students have had an ability to enter Canada throughout this pandemic, and we expect that to continue. We will continue to work closely with provincial and federal governments, especially in the context of quarantine requirements, and continue to inform our international students in the weeks and months to come.

Are there contingencies in place to help international students who experience delays receiving study permits or other documents?

Canadian universities are currently collaborating with the federal government to speed up the process. We do, however, still recommend that international students start the process as early as possible.

Will there be help for international students who need to pay for a quarantine hotel?

Returning students in Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs facing financial barriers when returning to campus, may apply for In-Course Financial Aid from the Scholarships & Student Aid Office.

The Entrance Bursary Program is available to newly admitted first-time undergraduate students from high school and CEGEP who are concerned about meeting their overall cost of attendance

Will exams be written in-person?

Currently, we anticipate the Fall 2021 exam period (both for mid-terms and finals) to be a combination of in-person and remote assessments to accommodate a range of class sizes. However, the planning will be building in contingencies, as it may not be possible to consider offering high-density gatherings in the Fieldhouse (for example) for final exams.

How will students manage a schedule that combines in-person and remote activities in the same day, without traveling to and from campus several times?

In addition to on-campus quiet study space in the libraries, flex spaces are available, where students can watch and participate in remote learning activities.

Will there be extracurricular activities, such as Frosh, this Fall?

The current planning focus is on academic activities. Once we have a clearer idea of what those will look like for the Fall, we examine the prospects of extracurricular activities, in consultation with student associations.

Will graduate and oral defenses be in-person?

It may be that oral defenses will be in-person in the Fall, but a mixed model is more likely. For example, during the past year, Web conferencing tools have been very effective in allowing external members to attend defenses. Given this success, a hybrid model may be possible to explore for the Fall semester.

Why are courses being offered in-person this Fall?

We have heard from our community about the importance of returning to on-campus activities. We did a full academic year in which thousands of our students were not able to engage in-person with their peers or instructors; many students have told us that they struggle with the isolation that can come with learning entirely online.

We have learned so much this past year, and we can and should find ways to return to the classroom. While we were able to successfully deliver many of our academic programs through remote means during the past year, the bulk of McGill’s programs are based on engagement in-person. For Fall 2021, laboratories, conferences, and other kinds of in-person activities are essential to offer face-to-face. Some parts of classes (i.e., components, or activities) will most surely remain online, especially lectures for large-enrolment courses, because it is likely that there may still be restrictions on high-density gatherings. Some students might therefore still have some lectures provided online, but labs, tutorials, or other course components will be in-person to the full extent possible.

Why can’t all courses be offered both online and in-person?

While the goal is to resume in-person teaching for the Fall 2021 semester, we anticipate that some components of classes will remain online, especially large-enrolment lectures, because it is likely that there may still be restrictions on high-density gatherings. These components will be determined at the Faculty level, based principally on health and safety protocols as well as on the program or course requirements. However, creating two versions of McGill’s classes is simply not feasible; instructors will not be expected to have both online and in-person versions of their classes. Therefore, all instructors must be prepared to teach on campus this coming Fall term.

The situation will continue to be monitored over the weeks and months to come and plans will be adjusted accordingly to ensure we offer a safe on-campus environment for all.

Will classes still be in-person if there’s another wave of the pandemic and the current public health restrictions remain in place for the Fall term?

We are using an approach to planning that will create flexibility so that we will be able to adapt if we need to. We are working very closely with Faculties, and all programs are looking to identify and prioritize those courses (or components of courses, e.g., laboratories) for which in-person engagement is most important to achieving intended learning outcomes. In-person opportunities that are important for students will also be prioritized. Even if there remain some strict restrictions in place, we will offer in-person activities in a manner that adheres to the necessary precautions, but also ensures students have access to online teaching components as the situation may warrant.

Will McGill accommodate staff who don’t feel safe coming back to campus in Fall 2021, especially if they have health concerns.

As always, McGill will closely follow public directives to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community, which means that the vast majority of staff may return to campus safely in Fall 2021. Further, when possible, the University will offer reasonable accommodations to staff members with a medically certified disability or health-related condition who as a result are unable to work on campus, despite the preventive measures taken by the University. Accordingly, if a person cannot work on campus for health reasons, this usual protocol for accommodations will be followed.

Is it too early to make a decision about Fall 2021?

We heard from our community that an early indicator of the direction the University has set for planning is so very important. This helps everyone understand the expectations and helps orient the ongoing planning activities. We have been receiving so many questions from returning and new students about the situation for the Fall. The Fall academic planning started many weeks ago , and Faculties have fully engaged in the process, and understand that we are planning for a return to on-campus academic activities.

We are confident that the current vaccination campaign will gain momentum and that, according to government officials, Canada will have enough doses to vaccinate most people by September.

We can also point to the incredible work being done by our academic and administrative teams, and we know that we can operate many in-person teaching and research activities with significant safety protocols in place.

Will students and instructors be required to wear masks in the classroom in Fall?

As per Quebec government directives, individuals on our campuses are currently required to wear a procedural mask at all times when in any indoor shared space. Although we cannot predict what the public health situation will be in the Fall, all necessary health and safety measures will continue to be implemented to ensure that our campuses remain safe places to learn and to work in the coming year.

Will student residences be open?

Yes, student residences will be open in Fall 2021 with the usual guarantee of accommodation to all eligible first-year students who request it.

Is the decision to have in-person activities for Fall aligned with public health experts?

We have been working and continue to work closely with provincial and federal governments, as well as public health experts and officials to ensure we can continue offering a safe on-campus environment for all. Be assured that we will continue to abide by public health and government directives and that all necessary health and safety measures will continue to be implemented to ensure that our campuses remain safe places to learn and to work in the coming year.

Where does the University stand on the COVID upgrade renovation plans with respect to ventilation to the buildings on campus?

McGill has implemented a number of measures regarding the operation of its HVAC systems to align with guidance from public health agencies and industry. These are focused on maximizing fresh air intake and extending the operating hours of the systems.

Summer 2021 semester

How will classes be held in the summer semester?

The Summer 2021 term will begin as scheduled, with courses being offered primarily through remote delivery.

Even with summer 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.

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.

Is there help for international students who need to pay for a quarantine hotel?

The Scholarships & Student Aid Office’s new Quarantine Bursary Program is designed to assist with financial barriers facing current students returning to campus for academic reasons. This bursary program for Bachelors, Masters and PhD students is based on demonstrated financial need, considering a student’s totality of resources and costs. International students for whom 2020/21 is their first year of studies are eligible for Quarantine Bursary consideration despite proving financial capacity to immigration authorities. For instructions on how to apply, please see item #2 on the SSAO’s COVID FAQ webpage.

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 four screening questions. 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 closed room
    • Wear a face covering
    • Call Santé Québec at 514-644-4545 for information on next steps
    • Call 514-398-3000 to report to the University

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 should use the interactive COVID-19 Reporting Process Questionnaire to determine their next steps. 
  • 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, all individuals on our campuses are now required to wear a procedural mask at all times when in any indoor shared space. The University will provide procedural masks to all students, faculty and staff coming to our campuses, and individuals who would prefer to bring their own procedural masks will be permitted to do so. There are a few exceptions to this rule - learn more and view a list of mask distribution locations here.
  • 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, all individuals on our campuses are now required to wear a procedural mask at all times when in any indoor shared space. The University will provide procedural masks to all students, faculty and staff coming to our campuses, and individuals who would prefer to bring their own procedural masks will be permitted to do so.

There are a few exceptions to this rule - learn more and view a list of mask distribution locations here.

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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