Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

McGill's latest COVID-19 measures >>>>

Macdonald Campus's COVID-19 measures >>>>


Macdonald Campus COVID-19 updates (archives)


Communiqués

Thursday, March 26 @ 14:17 - Updates fromMcGill University: Compensation, Course activity, Student health resources 

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

Dear members of the McGill community,

Although we are still dealing with much change, it cheers me to see how nimbly our community continues to adapt to the current situation. “Normal life” may still be a way off, but your resilience and positivity are an ongoing source of inspiration to me.

Here are today’s updates relating to COVID-19:

Compensation

Following the Quebec government’s extension, until May 1, of the suspension period for academic activities in higher education institutions, the University will remain operational. Only necessary functions and activities will continue to be provided on campus, while academic activities are migrating over to remote delivery starting next week.

As per clarifications from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the University confirms that all McGill academic and administrative staff—including contract employees whose contracts are valid during the extended suspension period lasting until May 1—will be paid. Casual and work study employees who were scheduled to work during the suspension period will also be paid.

I would like to remind our casual and work-study employees to consult the timesheet instructions on the McGill coronavirus FAQs.

Course activity

By now, all students should have received information from their Professors about modifications to their courses for the remainder of the term. If you have not yet heard anything, please contact your Instructor right away to ask for this information. I also want to remind students to review the “Academic Measures” website for their options if they are concerned about their ability to finish a course this term. Students can also check with their Academic Advisor, Program Director, or Supervisor to discuss further, and to seek additional clarity.

Student health resources

The Student Wellness Hub has mobilized as many of its resources as possible to continue offering support to our students. However, due to the unfolding public health emergency, the Wellness Hub’s GPs are being pulled into the public healthcare system. The Hub can no longer maintain its capacity to offer physical health appointments, even remotely, but is committed to offering as much virtual support as possible.

However, many of the Hub’s counsellors are now able to offer follow-up appointments virtually, and nurses can offer support by telephone. You can access a wide range of support at a distance, from emotional support groups and COVID-19 information sessions to the McGill Art Hive and workshops for managing stress and anxiety; a listing of online support programming is available on their website.

There are also off-campus services available to students. Maple is one way of accessing an appointment with a GP, at a distance. The University has worked with Blue Cross and Maple to eliminate up-front charges for international students covered by Blue Cross. This service is available to Canadian students, but it may not be covered by all provincial insurance plans or supplemental insurance. While many healthcare services off campus will be reimbursed by your insurance plan, most will require payment up front. Canadian students covered by StudentCare insurance can get reduced rates by visiting providers that are part of the StudentCare network.

Students also have access to free, remote mental health and well-being support via your keep.meSAFE Student Support Program, with real-time chat and telephonic consult available 24/7 via the My SSP app. Video and tele-counselling options are also available by appointment, call 1.844.451.9700 (or 001.416.380.6578 if outside Canada or the USA- call charges apply). Please note that given this time of heightened concern, call and chat volume may be high and wait times may be longer than usual. After downloading the free My SSP app from your device’s App store, ensure your profile is up to date and that you have allowed push notifications as a way of staying in touch with relevant support.

We are continuing to update the McGill coronavirus page with new information and FAQs. If you have a question that isn’t answered on the FAQ, please write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

Thank you, as always, for your patience and dedication. I hope you are keeping healthy and in good spirits.

 

Monday, March 23 @ 21:07 - Updates from McGill University: Student services, International Students, Shuttle bus

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

Dear members of the McGill community,

As health authorities increase the volume of COVID-19 testing, we are, unfortunately, seeing an increase in the number of cases confirmed in the McGill community and the greater Montreal area—including an outbreak of COVID-19 at The Neuro. It is particularly concerning when the virus reaches vulnerable populations, but The Neuro took swift action to test those who have been exposed. The Direction de la santé publique (DSP) is now contacting others who may have been in contact with the affected individuals. Hospital and institute staff have been asked to severely limit, or halt, activities during the next 48 hours, and access to the facility is being strictly controlled.

It is upsetting when the situation hits close to home and affects people we care about. I share your concern and apprehension, and join with you in supporting those who are affected by the situation.

I assure you that the University closely assists the DSP in its investigation of positive cases. As per the DSP’s contact tracing protocols, they take the responsibility to communicate directly with anyone who could potentially be a contact. I understand the desire for as much information as possible during such disquieting times, but it is important that we respect people’s privacy and privacy laws; therefore, the University cannot divulge personal health information about our students, staff or faculty.

If you have tested positive, are awaiting test results, or are self-isolating, please follow the instructions for submitting a self-declaration form. The form is an important tool for safeguarding the health and safety of our community, and restricting the outbreak in the general population. The form is treated with strict confidentiality.

Here are today’s other developments relating to COVID-19:

Student services

Though our campuses may be physically closed, many McGill resources for students are still available remotely:

  • The Wellness Hub is running programming for students during this challenging time, including a COVID-19 Emotional Support Group and a “Zen in 10” mindfulness meditation. Check their website for full details.
  • Check out the Student Services website for a detailed list of services that continue to operate either online or by phone during this period of campus closure.
  • If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed due to the circumstances, or if you’d like to address a mental health concern, don’t hesitate to reach out to Keep.meSAFE, a remote mental health counselling service offered in conjunction with SSMU and PGSS. This service allows you to chat with a licensed mental health clinician by phone, video call, or secure mobile chat and can be accessed 24/7 in over 60 languages, regardless of where you are in the world. Get started by downloading the MySSP app for iOS or Android.
  • For students adapting to learning remotely, Teaching and Learning Services has put together a suite of new online resources for students that can help you stay on track during challenging times.

International students

International students who are still in Canada, but wish to return home, should contact their home country consulate to obtain the necessary information and instructions.

Shuttle bus service

Starting Wednesday, March 25, shuttle bus service will be suspended between the downtown and Macdonald campuses. This measure is in accordance with the latest directives from the Quebec government. The community will be notified when service resumes.

Social distancing is hard, especially when we’re feeling stressed or scared or lonely. It is a cruel irony that we need our friends and family now more than ever. Technology can do wonders for breaking the isolation; even something as simple as a phone call can lift the spirits on a difficult day. Although it’s essential that we stay in touch, it is crucial that we respect the government’s ban on in-person gatherings and continue to take key hygiene precautions. As a result, all McGill in-person events, on or off campus, are cancelled until June 5. These measures are the only ways we can “flatten the curve” — and the sooner we do that, the sooner we can get back together.

When you have questions, please check the McGill coronavirus page. We are doing our best to update the page with new information, including daily video updates from my colleague Chris Buddle and other senior administrators. If the webpage FAQ does not answer your questions, please write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

Thank you for reading. I hope you are staying healthy and well.

 

Monday, March 23 @ 18:47 - Macdonald Campus updates from the Dean's Office

From Dean Anja Geitmann

Dear Macdonald Campus community

As we navigate the continuously shifting sand beneath our feet, I would like to send you a few notes and updates from the Dean’s Office.

Teaching

If you are teaching this term, you are in the process of redesigning your final exam and preparing for remote delivery of your class via an online mode.

  • While actual delivery of content may only start next week, you are encouraged to dry-run your online delivery mode to assess whether all of your students are in a position to join or whether there may be unexpected challenges.
  • To canvass whether instructors are ready for next week, please complete this doodle poll by indicating your name, the class(es) you are teaching, and checking among the three options ‘ready for remote delivery’, ‘need advice/help for remote delivery or exam’, ‘other challenges affecting teaching’. (If we don’t hear from you, we will reach out to you to see how things are going; if you are not teaching this term, no need to respond).

Extension of the closures

The Quebec government has recently extended the duration of the campus closure to May 1.

  • If you have card access to the buildings, consider whether there are any perishable or other food items left in fridges or cupboards. Please come in briefly to remove these so that we can avoid rodent infestation during the closure. Please take any perishables home instead of using the waste bins since cleaning frequency has been reduced in most and suspended entirely in certain areas.
  • Seize the opportunity to take home any house plants you may have at your office.

Impact of latest closures

Today, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that all non-essential economic activities will be paused until at least April 13. While this does not add any new restrictions on the McGill campuses (for the time being), it has indirect effects since many of our suppliers may have to suspend their services.

  • Shuttle bus: The last day of McGill shuttle bus operations is on March 24. The service will be completely suspended starting March 25.
  • Construction projects will be suspended.
  • Procurement: While essential services will be maintained, the suspension may affect suppliers that provide items for services that are not recognized for society but are essential to McGill researchers or staff. If you anticipate procurement needs that are not on the government’s essential services list, please let me know immediately.

To finish, thank you for the amazing discipline you demonstrate and for your willingness to contribute to society’s needs. It is great to know that the Mac community can be counted on!

 

Saturday, March 21 @ 16:05 - Government information on travel

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

Dear members of the McGill community,

Like you, I am closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and its impact on the world, our country and Quebec. Rest assured, we are working with government officials and health authorities to devise and employ measures that best protect the health of our people while maintaining University operations.

Today, I have information to share that is particularly relevant for McGill students and faculty who may be trying to get back to the University from outside Canada.

For Canadian citizens stranded abroad

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the Government is working with other countries to arrange commercial flights to bring stranded Canadian citizens back home.

If you are a Canadian citizen who is currently stranded abroad, please register with Global Affairs Canada, if you have not already done so. The Government will then be able to reach out to you and inform you of possible flights.

Please note:

  • The flights are commercial flights, so passengers will be expected to pay for their tickets
  • Canadians arriving from abroad will be in isolation for 14 days
  • No one exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed on one of these flights.

If you are not able to access one of these emergency flights, the Government is offering assistance to citizens through Canadian consulates, as well as a loan of $5,000.

If you need to contact the Government, you can do so in the following ways:

Exemptions from travel restrictions

Yesterday, the Government of Canada provided an update on exemptions to travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.

International students who held a valid study permit or had been approved for a study permit when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18 are now permitted to travel to Canada.

As well, the newly introduced exemption is also applicable to individuals on temporary work permits who may have been stranded abroad.

Please note that study permit applicants who were approved after the travel restriction took effect on March 18, are not exempt from the air travel restrictions and will not be considered ‘essential’ travel at a land border.

The government says it expects to announce the implementation of these exemptions early next week (the week of March 23). You can read the full release on the Government of Canada website.

If you are an international student or an individual on a temporary work permit who is trying to get back to McGill, please do not try to travel to Canada immediately. The government advises that you should wait until early next week.

Student Services

Now that McGill is moving into long term planning for remote instruction, Student Services will look to expand its virtual services accordingly. It will take time to understand what is needed and how to implement services for students in this new way, but please be assured that this is our priority.

For more information, please consult McGill’s coronavirus page. We are doing our best to update it with new information throughout the day. If you have any questions not covered by our FAQs, write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

As always, I encourage you to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and by practicing social distancing. Please remember, however, that while we need to avoid unessential physical contact with others, we also need to connect with one another more than ever. Use social media, electronic devices – even your old landline – to reach out to friends and family during these difficult times.

Thank you for your continued patience and dedication. Stay safe.

 

Friday, March 20 @ 17:23 - Spring Convocation Ceremonies called off

Message from McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier

Dear members of the McGill community,

I am deeply grateful for how McGill’s students, faculty and staff have been responding and adjusting to the uncertainties and quickly changing demands of the COVID-19 situation with the goal of protecting the health of our community.

Even though our shared objective is clear—prioritizing the well-being of our community, and that of the general population—finding the best way forward has required making difficult decisions. It is, thus, with heavy heart that I must announce that the Spring Convocation ceremonies have been called off.

Convocation is a cherished McGill occasion that brings together, in joyful celebration, graduating students and the people who have encouraged and supported them in their journeys.

While it is important to celebrate our students’ hard-earned achievements, right now our focus must remain on keeping our community healthy—and that includes the thousands of family members and friends who would gather on our campuses to celebrate.

I am currently working with my colleagues to ensure that students who were planning to graduate this semester can complete their degree requirements. We are also exploring alternative ways for the community to come together to commemorate these academic achievements at some point in the near future.

Day after day, we are overcoming new obstacles by virtue of the hard work, focus, positivity, and perseverance that are characteristic of the McGill University community.

Thank you for your resilience, your dedication to our community and the kindness you have shown to each other.

 

Thursday, March 19 @ 21:03 - COVID-19 Updates from McGill University (updated March 20)

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

Dear members of the McGill community,

The measures we are taking to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus are having an impact on virtually all our activities across McGill. I feel that we are making good progress, though I know many questions and issues remain. We are doing our best to resolve outstanding problems, and I ask for your patience and understanding given the complexity of the challenge. Please find the latest updates and developments below.

Travel restrictions

Earlier today, Premier François Legault asked Quebecers to avoid unnecessary travel between regions in the province in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. In a separate news conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expects new restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border to take effect Friday night.

We are seeing increasing limitations being placed on non-essential travel. We cannot predict what restrictions may arise in the future and how long they may last, even within Canada. Therefore, we strongly encourage undergraduate students, even those who live within Canada, to seriously consider returning home if you are able to do so and if you feel it is safe.

Undergraduate students will not be required to be physically on campus for the rest of the Winter 2020 term; this means that there will be no in-person classes and no in-person sit-down examinations for this term. It has also been confirmed that the term will not be extended.

As a reminder, staff should cancel all University-related travel if they have not already done so.

Summer and Fall semesters

Looking to the future, we are trying to adapt all our activities to our new reality. We can confirm that the summer semester will go ahead through remote instruction. We are still actively recruiting students from across the world for the Fall semester, and are confident that we can deliver high-quality learning, whether remotely or in person.

Student accounts

In order to lessen the stress and anxiety as a result of the unfolding challenges of COVID-19, interest and late payment fines on outstanding student accounts will be waived until further notice. Similarly, the fee assessment for the Summer term will be deferred until further notice.

Reporting possible exposure to COVID-19 and self-isolation

We wanted to clarify the process for supervisors in terms of reporting possible exposure. If one of your team members reports to you that they are required to self-isolate, are awaiting test results, or have tested positive, please ensure they fill out the self-declaration form for staff available on the COVID-19 website.

One of the keys to minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is documenting and tracking people who become ill or who have come into contact with the virus. This important tool will safeguard the health and safety of employees and restrict the outbreak in the McGill community and the general population.

It is important that people who are ill, have been exposed to COVID-19 or are awaiting test results self-isolate immediately as per the government of Quebec’s guidelines for home isolation.

Call for personal protective equipment

Yesterday afternoon, the Quebec government issued a call to local universities for spare personal protective equipment to help protect health workers on the COVID-19 frontlines.

The equipment includes masks (surgical or N95), gloves and visors. The request was disseminated among the heads of relevant faculties and units who, in turn, forwarded it to individual PIs. If you would like to contribute unused protective equipment and have not received direction from your faculty or department, you can find instructions here.

Once again, I want to thank you for your efforts individually, as teams and as part of the McGill collective. We are facing a great challenge, made even more difficult because many of us are now working in less than ideal situations.

But, thanks to your perseverance, we are moving forward.

For more information, please consult McGill’s coronavirus page. We are doing our best to update it with new information throughout the day. If you have any questions not covered by our FAQs, write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

 

Thursday, March 19 @ 09:37 - Government request for personal protection equipment

Message from Dean Anja Geitmann

Colleagues:

The Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services has sent a request for personal protection equipment, specifically:

  • Masks (N95 or 'Masque de précédure'/Procedural masks)
  • Visors
  • Gloves (I presume latex)
  • Lab coats
  • Disinfectant gel (I presume hand sanitizer)

If you have substantial numbers/amounts of these materials in the lab, and are willing to contribute these, please let me know. I cannot tell you whether the gov’t would reimburse for these. However, financial considerations should not be a worry, I will ensure you receive compensation in one way or the other.

There will be a box in the reception area of the Dean’s Office (MS2-031) to collect material. There will also be a list so that you can record the things you are donating, quantities, contact info.

Furthermore, please let us know whether you have PCR machines, PCR reagents, and RNA extraction kits. Even if you are willing to make them available, do not drop these particular materials off for the moment. For the time being, we would like to have a list of labs who have these types of materials.

Thank you, as always, for your willingness to cooperate.

 

Wednesday, March 18 @ 20:58 - COVID-19 Updates from McGill University

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

Dear members of the McGill community,

I am writing to share the most current information regarding the measures McGill is taking to help combat COVID-19, minimize the impact to our community and maintain our operations. I am really encouraged by the incredible efforts I am seeing every day as we work through this challenging situation.

Remote instruction

Academic Planning for remote instruction and remote course delivery is proceeding well, and Faculty Deans, Chairs/Directors and instructors are now in full planning phase to ensure their courses are adjusted for remote instruction. More information will come as it is available.

Out-of-town students

Some out-of-town students have been asking if there is any need for them to remain, or whether they should go home. There will be no in-person classes and no in-person sit-down examinations for this term. It has also been confirmed that the term will not be extended. As such, students will not be required to be physically on campus for the rest of the Winter 2020 term.

If you cannot return home at this time, please know that your health and wellbeing is at the top of our minds. Students in residence who have any questions and individual considerations, please contact housing.residences [at] mcgill.ca

IT Services

As so many people are working or studying from home, some services such as McGill’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) or WebEx have been quite busy and occasionally unavailable. IT is aware of the problem and is working hard to resolve the issue. If you would like to check the status of IT services, please consult the System Status page on the IT Services site.

Mail delivery

The downtown Mailroom is receiving and sorting mail daily. Delivery, however, is now by request only. If your unit is present on campus and wishes to continue to receive mail delivery, please contact info.mailservice [at] mcgill.ca. Otherwise, all mail received during the suspension period will be held and delivered when normal activity resumes.

Health and social distancing

I would like to remind everyone again that in order for the measures to stop the virus that we are collectively taking to be effective, we must all commit to following them. Please continue to practice proper health precautions, including washing your hands often and covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.

I know that at a time like this we all want to be close to our friends and loved ones. However, I would ask you to connect with and support each other while at the same time practicing social distancing. This means limiting close contact with people and especially avoiding crowds. This practice helps reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the community, thereby protecting our most vulnerable members.

Should you develop a fever, cough or begin to have difficulty breathing, you should:

  • immediately call the Quebec Government’s Coronavirus line at 1-877-644-4545
  • describe your symptoms and travel history
  • follow the instructions of the health care professional carefully

As a reminder, we have developed a self-declaration form to document illness or possible exposure to COVID-19. Employees in such situations must fill out the form. Further instructions can be found on the McGill coronavirus website.

We continue to do our best to post the most recent updates on coronavirus page of the McGill website. If you have any questions that cannot be answered by our FAQs, please write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

I understand that some people are feeling uncertain because the situation is changing so rapidly. I feel it too. I am doing everything possible to protect myself and the people around me, and I hope you are too. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

 

Tuesday, March 17 @ 21:42 - COVID-19 Updates from McGill University

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).

Dear members of the McGill community,

These are challenging times for all of us, especially those members of our community whose family and friends are most affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

I would like to thank our faculty for their hard work in transitioning classes to be delivered remotely, as well as our principal investigators who have begun the delicate process of ramping down their research projects. Thank you to staff for adjusting to remote working, and to those who are maintaining necessary functions on our campuses. And thank you to our students for the patience and understanding they have shown in the face of the unprecedented uncertainty that has interrupted their studies. I am grateful for your commitment to McGill and the broader community as we adapt to these uncertain times.

The priority of McGill leadership remains keeping our community healthy and, in so doing, helping to minimize the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining necessary operations.

We have been preparing for this for over a month, monitoring coronavirus developments around the world, in Canada and Quebec, and developing strategies to address the situation as it evolves. Our planning has been guided by the recommendations and directives of government public health authorities, and, in every step along the way, we have put the health and safety of the McGill community first. I am writing to recap some important information and to share some new updates.

As you know, McGill has suspended all classes for the next two weeks and employees are encouraged to work from home whenever they can. The University is committed to helping contain the propagation of COVID-19 by “flattening the curve.” To promote social distancing, we are implementing measures to have fewer individuals on, or commuting to, our campuses, while maintaining necessary functions and activities.

We are dedicated to ensuring that all courses that can be taught online will be in an online format starting on March 30. Additionally, there will be no in-person sit-down examinations for the Winter 2020 term. I know that preparing for these adjustments is a major undertaking and I greatly appreciate the professionalism and determination of everyone involved in making this happen – especially under such trying circumstances.

Here are the most recent updates on McGill’s operations:

Deliveries of services or goods

Staff who are expecting deliveries during the suspension period should reach out to their suppliers to coordinate deliveries. If you are not on campus, please cancel the delivery or arrange to have the goods delivered to an alternate location. Staff who are authorized to be on campus to provide necessary functions will need to ensure that they are present to receive deliveries of services or goods. Security agents are not authorized to accept deliveries.

Building access

Members of the community may need to access buildings, in order to carry out necessary functions, pick up necessary equipment to work from home, and ramp down research activities. If you are normally able to get into your building during weekends and after hours, you will be able to access it during the suspension period. If you cannot normally access your building after hours, you should contact the Area Access Manager (AAM) for your unit. A list of AAMs can be found here. If your AAM is not available or cannot grant you access, please contact Physical Security Systems at systems.security [at] mcgill.ca or at 514-398-4562. Make sure to have your McGill ID card with you at all times.

Upon leaving your respective areas, we ask that you take a moment to check that:

  • The windows are closed and doors are locked
  • You have all your belongings
  • Any necessary equipment and appliances are turned off or unplugged – for example, space heaters should be unplugged, but refrigerators should remain operational
  • Any remaining valuables are locked away

Casual administrative staff

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. Casual and work-study employees, please consult the instructions on the McGill coronavirus FAQs.

Parking

McGill has decided that employees who are required on site in order to perform their work will be offered free parking throughout the COVID-19 suspension period. Please consult the instructions on the McGill coronavirus FAQ page to request temporary parking.

Hazardous Waste Management

To try to keep staff on campus at a minimum, Hazardous Waste Management (HWM) will not pick up biomedical waste and chemicals directly from laboratories. As research personnel are working to ramp down research on campus, they should put these materials into the waste room, where HWM will collect them.

Reporting possible exposure to COVID-19

We have developed a self-declaration form to document illness or possible exposure to COVID-19. Employees in such situations must fill out the form. Further instructions are available on the McGill coronavirus website.

Support

Professional counselling and advice for a range of issues are available for staff through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). If you need to talk to someone, I encourage you to make use of the program.

For students, Keep.meSAFE, a mental health counselling service offered to students in partnership with SSMU and PGSS, provides 24/7 access to licensed counsellors through telephone and mobile chat in more than 60 languages. To access this service, download the MySSP app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

For more information, please consult McGill’s coronavirus page. We are doing our best to update it with new information throughout the day. If you have any questions not covered by our FAQs, write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

In closing, I would like to thank you all once again for your dedication to McGill and to each other. When I think back to what life was like just two weeks ago, I am amazed at how quickly and profoundly it has changed. I am sure you all feel the same. Please take care of yourself and provide whatever support you can to your colleagues and fellow students.

 

Tuesday, March 17 @ 08:17 - AES Checklist for Ramping-down Research and Securing Laboratories

Sent on behalf of Dr. Sébastien Faucher Acting Associate Dean (Research)

Download checklist. For questions or concerns, please contact researchassociatedean.macdonald [at] mcgill.ca (Sébastien Faucher)

 

Monday, March 16 @ 22:00 - Exams, Travel Restrictions

This message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning)

Dear members of the McGill community,

As we learned in today’s press conferences by both the federal and provincial governments, our leaders are adopting more stringent measures in order to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including closing the Canadian border to most foreign nationals.

McGill understands the need to support these efforts by adapting to the ever-evolving situation in a quick and decisive manner. The University fully supports the government’s decisions and is committed to helping contain the propagation of COVID-19 by “flattening the curve.” To promote social distancing, we are implementing measures to have fewer individuals on, or commuting to, our campuses, while maintaining necessary functions and activities.

As we are finalizing our preparation for the continued operation of the University, we have some important developments to share with you.

At this time, we can confirm that there will be no traditional in-person sit-down examinations for the Winter 2020 term. As well, the term will not be extended.

We are currently in the process of making arrangements in relation to the final exam period that will best ensure the health and safety of the University community while aiming to minimize the impact of any adjustments on pedagogical outcomes. We will communicate further about this in the coming days. We are exploring alternatives such as online take-home exams.

As we have stated in previous communiqués, all classes (in-person and online), teaching labs, exams, assignments and other forms of assessment are suspended for two weeks – except thesis defenses. Instructors may hold some open office hours/Q&A sessions online, but have been asked not to impart new materials/assignments during such communications.

We are committed to ensuring that all courses that can be taught online will be in an online format starting on March 30. By next week, instructors will contact students about how teaching will resume after the suspension period, and any possible adjustments to modes of assessment.

Equally important, the federal government announced important travel restrictions. Foreign nationals, except American citizens, with work and study permits who are presently abroad will not be allowed re-entry into the country after March 18. Members of the McGill community currently abroad who are foreign nationals, and who wish to return to Canada, are urged to make travel arrangements immediately.

Please see the coronavirus page of the McGill website for the most current information.

If you have any questions, write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

 

Monday, March 16 @ 16:04 - Current status at Macdonald campus

From Dean Anja Geitmann

Dear staff members at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Macdonald Campus

Further to the MRO sent by Provost Manfredi on March 15, 22:19, I am sending you clarifications on how this translates to Macdonald Campus.

Please note that we created a web site that contains an archive of important communications and FAQS: https://www.mcgill.ca/macdonald/about/macdonald-campus-covid-19-updates

For McGill general answers to many questions, please consult: https://www.mcgill.ca/coronavirus/

Here are the principles that govern the decisions on measures that have been taken at McGill:

  • The Quebec government asks universities (as well as schools) to suspend classes for two weeks and to ramp down research with the intention to ‘flatten the curve’. This means that the probability of COVID19 transmission within the general population must be reduced, simply by limiting everyone’s mobility and physical proximity. The goal is to avoid overwhelming health services to allow them to continue caring for the most vulnerable members of the society, and those who might experience more serious consequences from the virus.
  • There is absolutely nothing more dangerous about the campus proper with respect to other public spaces. It is not more unsafe to come to campus than it would be to be in any other public space. The idea behind the government’s and McGill’s measures is that by reducing the number of people in educational institutions, the number of in-person interactions is reduced (not only on campus, but also in public transport).
  • When you see other people on campus (or anywhere else), simply practice ‘social distancing’ (don’t shake hands, try to stay away 1-2 meters) and practice good hygiene measures. Among the most important are frequent handwashing with soap, avoiding to touch your face with unwashed hands, and sneezing/coughing into your sleeve rather than your hand.

Status of Operations at Macdonald Campus

Starting tomorrow, and for the next two weeks (until further notice), operations will be at a modus operandi which can best be described by the following concepts:

  • This is not a shut-down of operations. As many activities as possible will be moved online. This includes classes (once they are being reactivated after the suspension period), advising, committee meetings etc.
  • Those among the staff whose job functions can easily be done from home and who are set up to do so, should do so. To reiterate, this is not done because the campus is in any way a dangerous space, it is done to reduce the density of people on campus.
  • On campus activities will maintain all necessary activities to ensure continuity of services. This includes all essential services and all services that are required on site to maintain continuity of functions and activities. What this means concretely for everyone’s function will be established in each unit.
  • Given that some members of the staff may need to self-isolate (because of flu symptoms or travel) or have children at home, some units may need to ensure a rotating presence to provide at least minimal service levels.

Continuity of Functions and Activities

Among the on-campus services and activities that will continue at Macdonald Campus (until further notice) are the following. This is a non-exhaustive list and some activities may move online, others may be at ‘skeleton staff’.

  • Financial and administrative functions
  • Human Resources including:
    • POPS casual payroll
    • Minerva appointments
  • Facilities Management & Ancillary Services
    • Project Management (i.e. construction)
    • Campus Public Safety
    • Utilities & Energy Management (i.e. powerhouses)
    • Building Operations (i.e. Trades)
    • Building Services & Grounds (i.e. sanitation activities)
    • Mail services
  • Research
    • Maintenance of research animals & culture
    • Phytotron Facilities & Greenhouses
    • Others as determined by Dean (request for exemption required)
    • Signatures for grant applications/checklists
  • Communications and External Relations
  • Information Technology (IT) – onsite desktop support
  • Student Housing & Hospitality Services
    • Floor Fellows in Students Residences
    • Food and Dining Services with reduced operations
  • Student Life and Learning
    • Athletics – close activity areas but continue other functions
    • Admissions & Enrolment Services
    • Scholarships & Student Aid Office
    • Services for Students
    • Student Wellness Hub (closed currently, moving to online)
    • Student Affairs Offices – offering services studentinfo.macdonald [at] mcgill.ca (remotely), no walk-ins
  • Libraries (online services only)
  • Financial Services
  • Procurement Services
  • Campus Planning and Development Office
    • Lease management
  • Shuttle Bus at Reading Week frequency
  • Farm
    • Farm animal care
    • Limited research activities as per exemptions accorded by the Dean
    • Preparations for spring planting at farm and Hort Centre
  • Welcome Center
    • Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon through Thursday, March 19

I know that despite these clarifications, there may still be confusion in some areas. In particular regarding teaching and classes, there will be another detailed MRO later today.

This current situation is new for all of us and as Central McGill Administration is trying to sort out the big picture, we are working towards solutions at the granular level. If you need additional information or feel that your needs or concerns have not been met, please do reach out to me. My office and I try to find answers as quickly as possible and I truly appreciate both your patience and your willingness to cope with this situation as we go along. Sometimes, taking a deep breath and walking in the sunshine gets you a long way toward managing the stress!

 

Sunday, March 15 @ 22:19 - Teaching, Research, Workplace, Health, Services

From Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) and Yves Beauchamp, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance)

Dear members of the McGill community,

We are writing to share some details about what the next two weeks will look like for McGill students, faculty and staff as the University follows the Quebec government’s decision to temporarily close all schools and universities. It is important to note that the situation is extremely fluid and this two-week closure may be extended; thank you for your understanding as we navigate these uncertain times together.

The University fully supports the Quebec government’s decision and is committed to helping contain the propagation of COVID-19 by “flattening the curve,” so that health services do not collapse under the resulting patient load. To promote social distancing, we are implementing measures to have fewer individuals on, or commuting to, our campuses.

We understand that this situation can be extremely stressful, both in people’s personal lives and in their academic and professional careers. While we can’t completely assuage this anxiety, we hope that providing clear communication regarding McGill’s operation in the coming weeks will help clarify the situation.

Teaching and assessments

While academic activities lie at the core of McGill’s mission, they are being suspended in light of the government directive. All classes (in-person and online), teaching labs, exams, assignments and other forms of assessment are suspended for two weeks – except thesis defenses. Students with thesis defenses are asked to contact their supervisors to discuss possible alternatives. Some limited online instruction will proceed with critical disciplines in the Faculty of Medicine.

Be assured that we are committed to ensuring that all courses that can be taught online will be in an online format starting on March 30. The goal is to ensure that as many students as possible are able to complete most, if not all, of their academic term remotely. Alternative formats for final examinations are also being explored so that the examination period will not involve in-person sit-down examinations on our campuses. We recognize that this will not work for some courses and programs, and for some students, and we are therefore evaluating alternatives for these situations.

During the next two weeks, instructors will contact students about how teaching will resume after the suspension period, and any possible adjustments to modes of assessment.

Research

We realize that a ramp down of on-campus research may represent significant hardship for those involved in certain research projects that are in progress. Unfortunately, due to the current crisis and the importance of preserving the health and safety of our community, the government's and McGill's default position is that all non-essential research activities on campus must be postponed or halted in the short term. Ultimately, we must accept that the current COVID-19 situation is a unique emergency that requires exceptional measures that will inevitably have important impacts on everyone's work. McGill is in communication with funding agencies to address the resulting issues.

Faculty deans will shortly send out detailed steps to take as well as the process that allows you to request an extension or exemption from the ramp-down.

Graduate Students who have questions related to the continuation of their research activities in this context should contact their Graduate Program Directors and/or the Associate Deans at Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Workplace

As per clarifications from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, McGill will remain operational for the duration of the two-week suspension, beginning on Tuesday, March 17, but only necessary 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 suspension 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 at www.mcgill.ca/it/work-remotely, where guidance is provided under “Meeting & Collaborating Remotely.”

Academic and support staff are asked to use the following tools:

  1. Zoom will soon be available to all instructors for teaching and learning activities
  2. MS Teams is currently available to all employees for all collaborative work (web conferencing, chat, etc.)
  3. WebEx will soon be available to employees for all Web conferencing needs.

It has been decided not to use Skype as the product is nearing end of life.

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.

Health

Once again, we strongly encourage people to continue practicing proper health precautions, including washing their hands often and covering their mouth and nose with their arm when coughing or sneezing.

Should you develop a fever, cough or begin to have difficulty breathing, you should:

  • isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible
  • immediately call 1-877-644-4545 
  • describe your symptoms and travel history
  • follow their instructions carefully

If you have decided or been advised to self-isolate:

  • All students: report your situation to your student affairs office or your department.
  • Students living in residence: report your status by contacting Student Housing and Hospitality Services at housing.residences [at] mcgill.ca. Self-reporting will ensure that assistance is provided to you and services are maintained.
  • Employees: report your status by contacting your immediate supervisor.

Note: Rest assured that this information will be treated confidentially.

Student Services will remain in operation but by phone and online. The Wellness Hub will be closed over the coming week and will move to online operations.

Students will continue to have access to a number of health services. Students have virtual access to doctors via the Maple app. Moreover, Keep.meSAFE, a mental health counselling service offered to students in partnership with SSMU and PGSS, provides 24/7 access to licensed counsellors through telephone and mobile chat in more than 60 languages. To access this service, download the MySSP app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Libraries

All McGill libraries are closed until March 30. Online library services will still be available during this period.  Please note the following:

  • The Library is offering a retrieval service for research print materials from downtown libraries. Only items that can normally circulate can be requested via a form that will be accessible on the Library’s homepage and FAQ page.
  • Materials from Macdonald Campus Library are not available at this time.
  • Physical items placed on course reserves will not be available at this time.
  • Reference services will be moving online for the next two weeks: Chat, email or text a librarian from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Monday, March 16.

A link to a FAQ page outlining the Library’s contingency plan will be available on the Library’s homepage on Monday, March 16.

Services

All McGill Athletics & Recreation facilities are closed until March 30.

Food services will remain open with regular hours of service in all residential dining halls (except Douglas Hall), Starbucks, Premiere Moisson and Twiggs at Macdonald campus. All other food service locations on campus will be closed.

McGill’s shuttle service between the downtown and Macdonald campuses will operate on the same reduced schedule as per reading week.

The University will continue to update the community as the situation develops and following further government instructions.

Please see the coronavirus page of the McGill website for the most current information.

If you have any questions, write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

 

Sunday, March 15 @ 19:43 - Ramping-down Research on the Macdonald Campus

From Dean Anja Geitmann

Dear members of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,

Further to the MRO sent out by Deputy Provost Fabrice Labeau at 9:15 pm, March 14, on-campus research activities at McGill University have to ramp-down. This is to implement the measures necessary to 'flatten the curve' and thus slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the population so that health services do not collapse under the resulting patient load.

In light of this, we are asking all researchers to suspend or reduce their on-campus research to essential activities. The deadline for this ramp-down to be complete is 11pm, Thursday, March 19.

You may wonder why you are asked to comply with this on-campus research ramp-down even if essential University operations remain open and there may be only few people in your research space, research office or lab, with enough space between them to ensure 'social distancing'. There are several reasons why the Quebec government is asking universities to ramp down on-campus research activities:

  • Even if there is enough space in your own lab, research personnel will inevitably move around in the building as well as commute to campus. All of these activities increase the probability of transmitting and propagating the virus in the population.
  • While the University is operational for the time being, the situation is extremely fluid. It is possible that new directives might come from the governments that require a full shut down of buildings for an indeterminate amount of time. The 3-day ramp-down time allows your lab to finish experiments that are in progress, safely store materials, and have your personnel take home any material that they may need in order to work from home.
  • Reducing research activities will reduce pressures on services such as Environmental Health & Safety who may have to operate at reduced personnel numbers (because of self-isolation etc.).
  • Some of your research personnel may need to self-isolate because of cold/flu symptoms, recent international travel and/or children at home.

We realize that a ramp-down of on-campus research may represent significant hardship for certain research projects that are in progress, involve live animals or materials, have time-sensitive deliverables, or related situations. Unfortunately, due to the current crisis and the importance of preserving the health and safety of our community, the government's and McGill's default position is that all non-essential research activities on campus must be postponed or halted in the short term. Ultimately, we must accept that the current COVID-19 situation is a unique emergency that requires exceptional measures which will inevitably have important impacts on everyone's work. McGill is in communication with funding agencies to address the resulting issues.

That being said, we can actively take steps in the short term to adapt to the closure of our facilities and to shift the way we work to advance our research through off-campus activities that do not involved experimentation or the convening of groups of researchers in shared spaces.

Considering the above, you are asked to do the following over the course of the ramp-down period:

  • Briefly return to your labs with essential personnel only to shut down systems and prepare them for inactivity for an extended period, which remains to be determined.
  • Wrap up any experiments that can be brought to a conclusion by the Thursday deadline.
  • Retrieve any materials, data, and documents that would allow for research to occur off-campus.
  • Make sure regular backups of research computers are up to date.
  • Arrange for access to systems that can be operated remotely (e.g., remote desktop to access software that is installed locally)
  • Preserve or store samples and backup essential data.

It is understood that there will be some exceptions for work that must continue beyond the ramp-down period. If there are special situations that apply to your research (e.g. live animals) that need to be considered, you can request an exemption from the ramp-down deadline of March 19, 11pm. To seek such an exemption, you must send a request via email to me, copying sebastien.faucher2 [at] mcgill.ca (Acting Associate Dean (Research) Sébastien Faucher) and your unit Chair/Director, answering the following questions (as they pertain to your situation):

  • What is the objective the experiment or ongoing activity associated with the exemption request, in the context of your research program?
  • Why do you consider that the exemption from the Thursday deadline is necessary? (Please only list specific and extraordinary reasons that apply to your particular case; a delay in research productivity is not an acceptable reason).
  • What time period are you requesting for the exemption? How many days? Past the 2-week period?
  • What are the lab spaces, fields or farm spaces where this research takes place?
  • What risk to research, equipment or data will result from halting or postponing these activities in the short term? What is the risk to your longer-term research program?
  • What will be the unacceptable impact (e.g. on students; or on live animals, plant or other valuable material), if the work is temporarily discontinued?
  • How many personnel are involved in the studies/experiments/trials? Who are they and what is their status (grad student, PDF, RA, technician)?
  • Are your personnel or students volunteering to do these tasks on campus? If so, do you have any written record of their consent?
  • What is the length of the ongoing study/trial and how long must it continue to not risk losing/wasting data, valuable material, animals or other living organisms?
  • How many need to be in the lab at the same time (recognizing that for safety reasons a second person needs to be in proximity) and/or how frequently will lab personnel will need to come to the lab to ensure continuity of an activity even if not associated with an experiment? (e.g. checking on incubators, watering plants).
  • How will you ensure that 'social distancing' requirements is maintained?
  • What essential support services will be required to preserve this minimal level of activity? (e.g. Hazardous Waste Disposal, Incineration Box, Environmental Health and Safety, Procurement, other).
  • What steps will you take to shorten the research so that the exemption period can be minimized?

While such exemptions will be considered, they will only be granted if absolutely necessary. Please also note that even if an exemption past the ramp-down deadline is granted, this decision is 'Until Further Notice' and may have to be amended or changed as new directives are issued by the University or governments.

I truly appreciate your cooperation in this important transition. I know that I can count on the Macdonald Campus community to contribute their part to the national (and global) effort to cope with the situation.

 

Sunday, March 15 @ 06:49 - General Procedures for Macdonald Campus Faculty, Staff and Students

From Dean Anja Geitmann

On Saturday evening emails were sent from McGill senior administration outlining the general procedures to be followed over the next couple of weeks. Please read them carefully as they contain important information to help manage expectations about how Macdonald Campus will operate for the time being. Such measures are necessary and represent a significant step taken by McGill to contain the spread of COVID-19. They are implemented to reduce the probability of virus transmission in the community, both on campus and by reducing the necessity for mobility and commute. By reducing the number of people out and about and interacting in physical proximity we can work towards 'flattening the curve' (=slowing the spread of the virus to avoid a collapse of the health services under the patient load).

While more detailed information will be forthcoming, please note the following:

  • Monday, March 16, is considered to be an extension of the weekend and staff not usually on campus in the weekend are not expected to come to work.
  • Starting Tuesday, March 17, operations will resume but with a strongly reduced activity level on campus. As many services as possible will be transferred online and performed by the respective staff members from home.
  • More information on working from home and continued on-site activities will follow.
  • Details for those whose work is incompatible with working from home, those who are not set up for working from home, have to care for children, or have to self-isolate will be forthcoming from central administration.
  • All classes (online and in-person), teaching labs, exams, and other assessments are suspended for two weeks or until the university is ready to go online with most courses. The exceptions are thesis defenses, which may occur online.
  • Research activities on campus will need to be ramped down. Exceptions require approval by me. While more details will follow, you are encouraged to consult within your units and with lab members to identify activities that will require continued or occasional presence on campus (e.g. watering experimental plants, checking on incubators).
  • Some services and activities on campus will continue and a detailed list will be forthcoming.

We are working diligently to navigate through this challenging period without compromising the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. I ask that you remain tuned to further communications sent by the McGill’s central administration and the Dean’s Office. We will be updating you any time we have new information or directives that may impact the Faculty’s academic and administrative operations.

For more general information, please visit mcgill.ca/coronavirus for the most current University updates.

If you have general questions, please email COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

If you have questions specifically pertaining to Macdonald Campus, the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, or your research activities, please contact anja.geitmann [at] mcgill.ca (Dean Geitmann) directly.

 

Saturday, March 14 @ 21:15 - McGill University’s classes suspended and operations slowed or moving online for two weeks

From Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning)

Dear members of the McGill community,

I am writing to clarify how McGill will be affected by the Quebec government’s Friday, March 13 announcement that all schools and universities will close for the next two weeks.

We are committed to helping our community in containing the propagation of COVID-19. In this context, we are working to promote social distancing to reduce the number of individuals who are physically present on our campuses or using public transport to come to our campuses.

All classes, teaching labs, exams and other assessments are suspended for two weeks – except theses defenses. We will continue to work on resuming most teaching and other academic activities online by the end of this two-week period. Instructors will be in touch with students during this period to prepare for resuming academic activities.

As per clarifications from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, McGill will remain operational during the two weeks, but only necessary functions and activities will be provided on campus. Where possible, employees will be expected to work remotely, unless otherwise notified. Supervisors will reach out to employees with instructions and next steps. IT’s guidelines for remote work can be found at www.mcgill.ca/it/work-remotely. All academic and administrative staff, including casual employees who were scheduled to work over the period, will be paid.

Food services in residences will remain open. Some food services on campus will be closed, while others will remain open but with reduced hours.

Research activities that can be carried out off-campus (not including field work research) will continue; all non-essential on-campus research activities should ramp down, with exceptions as authorized by Deans. Research involving in-person interaction with human subjects should be discontinued or postponed with the exception of certain hospital-based work as per hospital rules.

McGill’s shuttle service will operate on the same reduced schedule as per reading week.

Student Services will remain in operation but by phone and online. The Wellness Hub will be closed over the coming week, and will move to online operations.

Students continue to have access to a number of health services. Students have virtual access to doctors via the Maple app. Keep.meSAFE, a mental health counselling service offered to students in partnership with SSMU and PGSS, provides 24/7 access to licensed counsellors through telephone and mobile chat in more than 60 languages. To access this service, download the MySSP app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

All McGill libraries and athletics facilities are closed until March 30. Online library services will still be available during this period, and requests for library research materials will be accommodated as much as possible. 

Given the Government of Canada’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada, all McGill-related outbound international travel is prohibited. All personal international travel is strongly discouraged. Please use careful judgement when considering personal travel; restrictions imposed by other countries could delay your return to Canada. In response to the government travel advisory, McGill is recalling all students currently abroad, regardless of region. The University is asking returning students to determine and adhere to steps for re-entry and self-isolation, whether they are returning to Canada or another country, including any travel restrictions and health recommendations. Students currently abroad will receive more details soon, including information about academic accommodations.

McGill will make every effort to ensure that students complete the term as planned. The situation continues to evolve and is stressful for many people. I thank you for your understanding. I appreciate the perseverance of the community as we work through this situation in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

The University will continue to update the community as the situation develops and following further government instructions.

Please see the coronavirus page of the McGill website for the most current information.

If you have any questions, write to COVID-19.info [at] mcgill.ca.

March 14 @ 17:32 - Message concerning COVID-19 from Principal Suzanne Fortier

From McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier

Dear members of the McGill community,

As you know, the situation related to COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and has become worrisome for all of us. I write to assure you of my commitment to ensuring that we see our way through this period with strength and agility.

First, it is important to underscore that a McGill team has been meeting nearly daily for well over a month to monitor coronavirus developments globally, in Canada and Quebec, and to plan strategies to address the situation as it evolves. This group has followed closely the guidance and recommendations of government public health authorities, putting the health and safety of the McGill community first in all of their recommendations.

I have every confidence in this team leading McGill’s response to COVID-19. They are working diligently across all units in the University to understand the implications of this situation and respond to the Quebec Premier’s announcements of the last two days. We will be sharing further information over the weekend. We also commit to updating you regularly as further developments arise and decisions are made.

I realize that this is a period of anxiety, especially for those members of our community whose family and friends are in the areas most affected by this situation. Please know that for the leadership at McGill, it is truly “all hands on deck” as we endeavour to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe and ensure the continuity of our essential operations, particularly over the next two weeks.

I would like to thank you all for your understanding as we work our way through these difficult circumstances. I especially wish to acknowledge everyone who has been working above and beyond the call of duty over the past days and weeks in the face of this situation. This is a trying moment, but given the deep knowledge, capacity, commitment, and resolve that marks the McGill community, I trust fully our collective ability to weather this period.

 

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