Directives for teaching staff regarding in-person teaching activities: Winter 2021

Updated December 9, 2020

This webpage aims to provide all Teaching Staff with clear guidance for leading in-person teaching activities during the Winter 2021 term.

Here, we define “Teaching Staff” to include: instructors, TAs, and anyone else who is responsible for leading a course in Winter 2021 that will include one or more in-person teaching activities.

On this page: Overview | Instructions for teaching staff | Statements for course outlines | Using myCoursesIn case of breach of safety protocols | If COVID-19 symptoms develop or are exhibited during teaching | For further information and assistance


The University views in-person curricular experiences as critical to the McGill student experience and to 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 that the University establishes. The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has worked diligently to ensure that 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.

In-person teaching activities for the Winter term have been planned as either Tier 1 or Tier 2. Tier 1 are essential in-person teaching activities; students in Tier 1 classes will be required to be present on campus in Winter 2021. 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, and these are labelled as Tier 2 activities. These opportunities will be complemented with a remote alternative, as was the case in the Fall 2020 semester.

Classroom with chairs marked off for social distancing
Arts 150, one of the classrooms in the McCall MacBain Arts Building Teaching Hub
Much of the Tier 2 in-person teaching in the Winter 2021 term will be done in McGill’s Teaching Hubs, which are designed to balance the goal of allowing in-person teaching with full compliance with public health protocols. Some of the measures taken for these teaching spaces include:

  • choosing spaces that are 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: in Teaching Hubs, 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).

Some in-person teaching activities will be in laboratories or other spaces that are not part of Teaching Hubs, and Macdonald Campus does not have Teachings Hubs. All other teaching spaces have also been designed and set-up so as to ensure that safety protocols are in place. Faculties or Departments have established these spaces based on relevant safety guidelines and protocols and in consultation with the EOC.

All 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 2020, 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 or other spaces being used for teaching; and
  2. for Tier 2 activities, 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 any of McGill’s COVID-19 self-assessment questions. A person who answers yes to any of these questions should visit the “Potential COVID-19 exposure: what to do” webpage to determine their next steps.

Teaching Staff leading in-person activities during Winter 2021 are required to review and adhere to the following:

  • Read the health guidelines and watch the prevention measure training videos (found on that same website) before the start of the Winter 2021 term.
  • Complete the Self-Assessment form on MINERVA each day that 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. More information about the COVID-19 reporting process can be found here.

Teaching staff leading in-person activities during Winter 2021 are also required to adhere to the following directives:

  • All individuals on our campuses are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when in any indoor shared space, including, but not limited to, classrooms, Teaching and Study Hubs, shared offices, labs, hallways, elevators, and bathrooms. There are a few exceptions to this rule - learn more on the Health Guidelines page.
  • 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 has been provided to Faculties for this purpose. 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 and cough etiquette.
    • 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.

Statements for course outlines

For Tier 1 activities, course instructors will need to be explicit and clear about the requirement of the in-person teaching activities. For courses with Tier 2 activities, the following text may be included in course outlines/syllabi:

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 Winter term, a back-up plan for remote delivery is in place to ensure that the course will continue and to minimize disruption to the student experience.

The following statement should appear on all course outlines that include in-person activities:

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus: The University has planned all on-campus activities for the Winter 2021 term in a manner that follows strict safety protocols that adhere to all public health directives. Because this course contains some in-person components, students are reminded of the University’s health guidelines. All individuals on our campuses are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when in any indoor shared space, including, but not limited, to classrooms, Teaching and Study Hubs, labs, hallways, elevators, and bathrooms. There are a very few exceptions to this rule – learn more on the Health Guidelines page. It is also essential that individuals practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and cough etiquette. You are not to come to class or campus if you have any of the symptoms described on the following website. Students will also need their McGill ID card to enter the teaching spaces.

Using myCourses

Instructors are also encouraged to post the foregoing statements on the myCourses site 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 enroll. 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 this 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 Security Services (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. Visitors must have a McGill sponsor and fill out a form prior to their arrival. Learn more on the Sponsoring a Visitor webpage.

If COVID-19 symptoms develop or are exhibited during teaching

Room with chairs marked off for social distance
Arts 160 is the dedicated isolation room for the McCall MacBain Arts Building Teaching Hub
In the event that a student or Teaching Staff member develops an onset of symptoms during an in-person teaching activity, the steps set out in the health guidelines (see “If someone develops COVID-19 symptoms on campus”) must be followed.

Each Teaching Hub building will be equipped with an “isolation room” for students or Teaching Staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms while on campus. These rooms are optional spaces intended to provide a safe place for the student or Teaching Staff member to call Montreal Public Health, call Security at 514-398-3000, or determine how to transit home, all while keeping separate from other individuals to prevent infection. These spaces are not mandatory—students can go directly home if they would prefer. Teaching Staff are not required to monitor these spaces.

For further information and assistance

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

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