Directives for Teaching Staff Regarding In-Person Teaching Activities: Fall 2020

Updated: October 30, 2020

Following government directives, until further notice, all teaching, with the exception of certain teaching activities that must be held in person, will be held remotely. For the latest, please check campus operational status here.

Most of McGill’s courses for the Fall term will be offered remotely, but some curricular experiences will be available for students who are in Montreal this Fall. This document aims to provide all Teaching Staff with clear guidance for leading in-person teaching activities. Here, we define “Teaching Staff” to include: instructors, TAs, and anyone else who is responsible for leading a course in Fall 2020 that will include one or more in-person teaching activities.


The University views in-person curricular experiences as critical to the McGill student experience and our academic mission. While the pandemic has disrupted much of what we would normally do during the Fall semester, we are committed to continuing to provide high-quality academic experiences for all students, whether through remote delivery or in-person activities. At the same time, we must remain mindful of adhering to all public health directives, which inform directives the University has set. The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has worked diligently to ensure all on-campus activities are undertaken safely, and to provide Teaching Staff with protocols for leading in-person teaching activities. The effectiveness of these protocols depends on each of us taking up our shared responsibility during the pandemic to understand and follow them closely.

Most in-person teaching this Fall will be done in McGill’s newly-created teaching hubs, which are designed to balance the goals of allowing in-person teaching with careful compliance with public health protocols. Some of the measures taken for these teaching spaces include: reduced densities in buildings, spaces for teaching not in proximity to other high-traffic activities, scheduling activities to ensure reduced densities in our buildings, establishing access control (e.g., maintaining card-access), and strict cleaning protocols (note: Teaching Staff are not responsible for cleaning classroom surfaces for disinfection; teaching hubs and teaching spaces and schedules are designed such that cleaning can be done in between planned activities). The Teaching Hub Design Standard (see PDF icon McGill Teaching Hubs Design Plan) has guided the design of all teaching hubs as well as the review and approval by the Academic Executive Planning Committee (APEC) and EOC for teaching activities that take place outside of these hubs.

In-person teaching activities have been carefully planned to ensure the health and safety of all members of the University community. As has been the case since mid-March, the University, principally through the EOC, will continue to provide regular and transparent updates to the McGill community about our operations in the face of COVID-19, including the status of the pandemic at McGill.

Instructions for teaching staff

Teaching Staff have a critical role and shared responsibility this coming term to ensure that:

  1. they understand and follow protocols for working within teaching hubs; and
  2. students who are unable to come to campus for an in-person teaching activity will not be at an academic disadvantage.

Signage at Teaching Hub Entrances will indicate that students and staff must not come to campus if they answer yes to McGill’s COVID-19 self-assessment questions. A person who answers yes to any of these questions must follow the health guidelines (see “What to do if a McGill member has COVID-19 symptoms” and “What to do if a McGill member receives a COVID-19 Diagnosis”).

Teaching Staff leading in-person activities during Fall 2020 are therefore required to follow the following resources:

  • Read the health guidelines and watch the prevention measure training videos (found on that same website) before the start of the Fall term.
  • Complete the Self-Assessment form on MINERVA each day they will come to campus. Please note that should a “yes” answer be given to any of the COVID-19 self-assessment questions on this form, the staff member may not come to campus and must inform their supervisor/Chair/Director immediately that they are unable to teach as scheduled.

Course instructors leading in-person activities during Fall 2020 are also required to follow the following directives:

  • Remind students that they must have their McGill ID cards with them to access the building in which the teaching is scheduled.
  • Two to three days before each in-person activity, send students an email reminder about prevention measures; a template is provided for this purpose (see Appendix). This same text should also be posted on the myCourses site for the entire term.
  • At the start of each in-person activity, remind students of the following points:
    • Maintenance of physical distancing in the classroom setting, as indicated in the classroom spaces, respecting configurations throughout the teaching hubs.
    • Everyone must wear masks or face coverings and practice good hand hygiene.[1]
    • Students exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, difficulty breathing, sudden loss of smell), having travelled in the last 14 days, or having been in contact with someone with COVID-19, must be excused immediately (see details below).
    • Our shared responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at McGill and more broadly, in the community.

Course instructors will also find it helpful to include in their course outlines/syllabi the following information:

In-person activities: This course includes [an/some] in-person teaching activities. These have been carefully designed and planned such that they will be carried out safely while providing a rich learning experience for all students. Should health directives or the overall situation connected to COVID-19 change over the course of the Fall term, a contingency plan is in place to ensure that the course will continue and to minimize disruption to the student experience.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus: The University has planned all on-campus activities for the Fall 2020 term in a manner that follows strict safety protocols adhering to all public health directives. Because this course contains some components in person, students are reminded of the University’s health guidelines. It is essential that all members of the community wear masks or face coverings when entering and circulating within indoor spaces, as well as practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene and cough etiquette. You are not to come to class or campus if you have any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, difficulty breathing, sudden loss of smell; if you have been out of the country in the last 2 weeks; or if you are in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Please call 1-877-644-4545 if you develop any symptoms. Students will also need their McGill ID card to enter the teaching spaces.

Instructors are also encouraged to post this foregoing information on the myCourses site for the course along with direct links to the health guidelines and prevention training videos.

Instructors may wish to avail themselves of the myCourses function that allows students to sign up for in-person activities. Instructors can create and manage student groups for each planned in-person activity for which students can enrol. Each group will be capped at a set number depending on classroom capacity (instructors will know this capacity when informed about their assigned classroom). For further information on how to create and manage groups in myCourses, see the McGill Knowledge Base article.

In case of breach of safety protocols:

The Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures makes it clear that students may not: “…Knowingly create a condition that unnecessarily endangers or threatens or undermines the health, safety, wellbeing, … of another person or persons” (Article 10(c)). Therefore, in the event that a student fails to follow the required protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Teaching Staff have the right to ask the student to leave campus immediately. Instructors should then communicate with the Office of the Dean of Students (514-498-4990) and Campus Security (514-398-3000 downtown, 514-398-7777 at Macdonald Campus).

Any visitors who are part of in-person teaching activities must adhere to the health guidelines.

If COVID-19 symptoms develop or are exhibited during teaching:

In the event that a member of Teaching Staff or a student develops an onset of symptoms during an in-person teaching activity, the steps set out in the health guidelines (see “What to do if a McGill member develops COVID-19 symptoms) must be followed.

Note that it is possible this situation will dictate a change in which academic accommodations might be needed, or adjustments of the teaching for the rest of the term (e.g., move to remote delivery).

For further information and assistance:

  • Issues related to student disruption can be directed to the Dean of Students or, if necessary, Campus Security (514-398-3000 or 514-398-7777 at Macdonald Campus).
  • Issues related to teaching technologies in a classroom space can be directed to either the IT Helpdesk (514-498-3398) or Teaching and Learning Services (tls [at]

Issues related to scheduling, planning or general questions about health and safety protocols in the space can be directed to [at]

[1] Students may remove their mask or face covering once they are seated, provided that they remain seated or in one spot and that physical distancing is maintained.

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