Fall 2020 Planning - May 20 2020

I have been admitted to McGill as a new student. If I come to McGill this fall, how can you reassure me that my experience will be as good as it would have been outside of the covid-19 situation?

We are working diligently to ensure three things:

  • Continuity of delivery of all our programs and courses that meet the rigorous standards that McGill has always set for itself.
  • Although our teaching will be primarily through remote platforms there will be in-person activities planned for our students who will be in Montreal that can be carried safely.
  • We will ensure that no student who is outside of Montreal or who cannot participate in on-campus activities will be penalized, for example, through alternate activities for them delivered remotely.

I am an incoming student living in a province outside of Quebec. Am I required to be in Montreal this fall? Will I be disadvantaged academically if I live at home?

You have a choice to be present in Montreal: the Fall semester will be organized in such a way that students who are not physically in Montreal are at a disadvantage.

What about if I’m an international student – does your answer to the previous question change?

You have a choice to be present in Montreal: the Fall semester will be organized in such a way that students who are not physically in Montreal are not at a disadvantage.

Will the whole fall semester be remote? If the situation improves, is it possible to resume on-campus activities during fall 2020?

The way that we start the Fall term will be the way that we complete it. We will not expect students who cannot make it to Montreal by September 1 to be here midway through the term. However, as mentioned, as our situation evolves and in line with safety protocols, we will be designing in-person learning activities that are replicated remotely for students who cannot be present on campus in the Fall 2020 term.

What about Winter 2021 term – how will we know whether that is also going to be taught through remote delivery?

It is still too early to make a decision about the Winter 2021 term, especially given how rapidly the public health situation and public health directives are evolving. We will likely be in a position to make a decision for the Winter 2021 term in late September or early October 2020.

How will student advising work this Fall?

Service point is and will be providing service remotely, on a full-time schedule and will start holding Zoom appointments this month.

Faculty advising is different in different faculties but they are making use of a wide variety of tools to offer their advising services in virtual mode, including teams, zoom, skype, and phone. Faculties are setting up advising events and one on one sessions, in line with the usual rhythm of advising. This is all happening now and will develop over the summer as we identify what works best for students; and of course will continue into the fall. Some faculties are setting up virtual advising hubs for the fall to facilitate one on one meetings seamlessly.

Will online courses be recorded for international students who are learning from a different time zone?

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

Will leave of absence requirements for students be relaxed?

Leaves of absence are granted for a defined set of reasons:

  • maternity or parenting
  • personal or family health
  • professional development
  • required military service

Such a leave must be requested on a term-by-term basis and may be granted for a period of up to 52 weeks. Personal objectives, such as travel or time off, do not constitute a valid reason for a leave of absence

There will be no change in this policy and the reason is that it could lead to fluctuations in enrolment, leading to issues with program space. This is because students on a leave of absence are able to register for courses at the end of their leave of absence without requesting readmission.

The same considerations will prevail in the context of requests for readmission after withdrawal. Students should be aware that if they drop or withdraw from all their courses (signalling a university withdrawal), they will need to submit a request for readmission. While our intention is to accommodate future requests for readmission to the best of our ability, if we receive many requests in a single semester, there is no guarantee we will be able to accommodate them all.

We are advising incoming students of similar considerations in the context of deferral requests. We are only able to accommodate a limited number of deferral requests each academic year because of program space.

The following questions might help students when considering deferrals/leaves/withdrawals:

  • The situation is world-wide. The disruptions are temporary and the long-term view of progress through a degree program should be kept in mind.
  • Do you feel that you can maintain your study habits and skills as well as the sense of academic momentum during a prolonged absence from formal education?
  • What are the alternatives? Will you be able to travel, or take on an interesting work experience?
  • Are there hidden opportunities in remote learning? For example:
  • beginning university remotely could allow you to focus on the transition to your academic life at university, while not having to worry about adjusting to living away from home at the same time.
  • workplaces have leapt into the virtual world and are unlikely to ever fully reverse, so building skills in remote communication and work provides valuable career experience.

If an undergraduate student is requesting a deferral for financial reasons:

    • Remote learning may provide students the opportunity to save on living expenses if they remain in their family home.
    • Some government jurisdictions, such as the Canada Student Loan and Grant Program, introduced an extra level of generosity for 2020/21 only. Continuance of studies, regardless of mode of delivery, could result in more overall aid, a higher proportion of grants and reduction in imposed student contribution.
    • The Scholarships & Student Aid Office can help. There may be consideration for McGill need-based aid as well as advising regarding government student financial assistance programs, as appropriate. First year international students are typically not eligible for aid as they have proven 12 months of financial capacity to acquire their study permit, however there may be cases of students starting their remote studies in parallel of pursuing their study permit.

Will fall 2020 term final exams be held remotely or will we be expected to come to Montreal to write them?

Final examinations for all courses held remotely in the Fall 2020 term will also be held online. Students will not be expected to come to Montreal to write final examinations for the Fall 2020 term.

I really want to live in residence next year. Is that possible?

Yes, some residences will be open, and you can still apply to live in residence. Please see the FAQ about Residences at https://www.mcgill.ca/shhs/faq-covid-19

What will lab courses look like next Fall?

We are exploring options such as virtual labs, simulations, and multimedia resources. Not all courses are suited to the same tools and solutions, but professors are collaborating to identify creative, engaging approaches for remote delivery. Many laboratories will be redesigned to ensure they can be offered remotely. This video gives some concrete examples of the sorts of initiatives we are working on.

I’ve heard research has started up – as an incoming graduate student, when can I start in the lab?

McGill is gradually ramping up research activities on campus, including graduate student research, while protecting the health and safety of the McGill community. We are prioritizing graduate student research as we restart our activities. Whether or not you can start your research may depend on what program you are in and what restrictions are in place because of the pandemic. During the Fall term, even if your entry into a lab is delayed, you will be able to fulfill your course requirements, meet remotely with your supervisor to receive guidance on reading the literature and planning your experiments as well as participating in lab activities such as weekly meetings, Journal Clubs and seminars.

Can professors hold office hours on campus next Fall, respecting social distancing protocols?

It may be possible to do so, depending on prevailing health directives from Santé Quebec. That being said, this may not be the activity that will be prioritized on campus, as it can also safely be done remotely, and will need to be done in this way for students who are to on campus.

How will McGill accommodate international students studying at McGill on exchange next Fall?

The University has now decided to cancel all outgoing and incoming student exchanges and term away mobility for Fall 2020. Individual students affected by this decision are being contacted.

What is in store for students who were planning to go on exchange abroad in Fall 2020?

The University has now decided to cancel all outgoing and incoming student exchanges and term away mobility for Fall 2020. Individual students affected by this decision are being contacted.

Instructors at McGill and elsewhere must develop new pedagogical material for remote teaching this Fall. Are there mechanisms that would allow/encourage instructors to share new pedagogical material so that not everyone has to start from scratch?

Teaching and Learning services is working closely with all Faculties and their work includes supporting the sharing of best practices, whether pedagogical or technical supports. There are learning communities that have developed (or are being developed), and instructors should reach out to the Chairs/Directors if they have questions, or they can reach out tls [at] mcgill.ca (directly) to teaching and learning services.

If learning is completely remote, will students be able to take on a lighter course load (i.e. one course for the Fall semester)?

There are financial, award, and immigration considerations that students should be aware in the context of this question:

    • As of June 9, 2020, international students are required to maintain full time status as a condition of their CAQ. Please see https://www.mcgill.ca/internationalstudents/immigration-faqs-covid19 for updated information.
    • Entrance scholarship renewals will still require 27 graded credits over Fall + Winter
    • Institutional (need-based) aid generally requires full-time status, i.e. 12 credits per term (although there are regular exceptions around permanent disability or being the parent of young dependents)
    • The various government student financial assistance programs have different rules. It’s important to note that reducing course loads will extend their studies, increase overall living expenses and therefore debt in most cases. Students may also hit their maximum number of weeks/months allowed on aid for a degree. Students should check with their funding sources before they make a decision to carry less than a full-time course load.
    • Quebec students on Aide financière aux études (AFE) are required to have a minimum of 12 credits to be considered full time in a term.
    • Out-of-province students on various provincial/federal programs (e.g. Ontario’s OSAP) are required to have a minimum of 9 credits to be considered full time in a term.
    • American students on U.S. Direct Loans are required to have a minimum of 7.5 credits to be considered full time in a term.

With the research ramp-up in place, how are we ensuring that people on campus are respecting or will respect safety protocols? Are we testing employees and students who are allowed to come to campus for research?

In Quebec, testing is coordinated by the government and the University will follow any testing strategy designed by the government.

The University has issued safety directives applicable to any work on-campus, including research; these directives strictly follow the guidance from Sante Quebec, CNESST and IRSST to ensure the safety or the members of our community. In buildings where research has ramped up., Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is making regular rounds to ensure that health and safety protocols are continuously adhered to.

How will students access textbooks and learning materials? Will the bookstore be open?

Everyone recognizes that ensuring student can access the material they need is a high priority – the details of what building will be open is still being determined. There is active and collaborative work happening both at the bookstore, and at the Library, to ensure students will be able to access materials. Please check the appropriate websites as we get closer to the start of the Fall term.

When will students be able to access their belongings still in McGill buildings?

The University is currently focusing resources on the Phase 1 of the research ramp-up; in the following weeks, additional protocols will be put in place for this type of activity.

When will staff be able to access items needed for their work that are in McGill buildings?

The University is currently focusing resources on the Phase 1 of the research ramp-up; in the following weeks, additional protocols will be put in place for this type of activity.

How will add/drop period work online? Will we be able to attend/audit classes until a seat opens up?

We don't allow auditing at McGill. The practice of students sitting in on classes they are not registered for does happen during add/drop but it's not something that we recommend. Note that students will not have access to course materials if they are not registered for the course.

Can I get into my lab later this summer? I work in the McIntyre building and I want to get back to my research activities?

Research is ramping up progressively. As stated in recent messages, the first phase of research ramp-up is focused on a few buildings; other will follow in phases. It is important to realize though that not all research will be allowed to resume, as it is necessary to reduce the density of people I our buildings and labs to respect physical distancing norms.

How will students still get the "McGill" experience if everything will be remote?

We recognize that the McGill experience is about more than classrooms and academics. And we are actively working on building student engagement models and methods to build connections between students.

  • We are working closely with students to plan and develop virtual welcome and orientation activities for incoming students, but also building student engagement initiatives for returning students to re-orient them to a virtual environment.
  • Will have a single landing page for engagement and student connections
  • Peer to peer engagement will be front and center so students can connect
  • Connecting incoming students with returning students and recent grads to get a good taste of the McGill experience
  • Virtual student communities for diverse student populations
  • Forming virtual interest groups and activities, wellness, art hives,
  • Experiential learning opportunities including community engagement and work experience
  • Virtual engagement activities will be followed by in-person activities as restrictions are lifted.
  • Visit McGill Student Services Sites for constant updates

How does our situation this affect plans to celebrate McGill's 200th anniversary in 2021?

Some of the planning has been deferred from the Fall 2020 to the spring of 2021. A notable event for which we are planning is our Spring 2021 convocation. This will be a double convocation, including our Class of ’21 grads and welcoming back to campus all of our Class of ’20 grads who were not able to cross the stage in person this year. It will be extremely special to celebrate this double convocation in the same hear as McGill’s Bicentennial anniversary.

I am especially concerned about the impacts on the growing (but still fragile) Indigenous Studies Program and Indigenous initiatives more generally. How can we maintain momentum around university initiatives in light of COVID?

While COVID-19 has limited our ability to be present on campus, it has not shifted our University priorities. Indigenous initiatives remain a focal point for our energy and efforts. We continue rigorous work in this area to our fullest extent possible in the circumstance.

Graduate students conducting clinical human research will be significantly delayed in data collection and progress. Are there measures to help with timelines and milestones or should we also expect a later graduation?

We are aware that there will be delays in projects involving human subjects. Program milestones and timelines will be adjusted accordingly. As each case may be different, please consult one of the Associate Deans at Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

What tips do you have for instructors now that we are preparing for remote teaching in the fall term? Where can we look for guidance and support?

One of the best places to look for resources around preparation for the Fall term is Teaching and Learning Services. They have a website devoted to this topic, and it includes detailed tips on teaching remotely, whether the topic is around assessment strategies or on the ways to use Zoom for teaching. Instructors can also talk to their Chairs/Directors, or relevant Associate Dean, or email TLS tls [at] mcgill.ca (directly). There are learning communities happening around the University, and we are also seeing amazing examples of sharing best practices as we plan for the Fall term.

Can I start the fall semester without having a study permit and/or CAQ?

A CAQ and study permit are required for international students studying physically in Canada. Students who will start learning remotely from outside Canada in Fall 2020 can do so without having a CAQ and study permit in hand. That being said, these documents will be necessary to come to Montreal either during the Fall or at the beginning of the Winter 2021 semester. As there are currently long delays in obtaining immigration documents due to the current pandemic, we advise all international student to start the process of obtaining a CAQ and study permit as soon as possible.

As an international student if all classes are held remotely and I choose to stay in my country, do I need a study permit for the fall?

A CAQ and study permit are required for international students studying physically in Canada. Students who will start learning remotely from outside Canada in Fall 2020 can do so without having a CAQ and study permit in hand. That being said, these documents will be necessary to come to Montreal either during the Fall or at the beginning of the Winter 2021 semester. As there are currently long delays in obtaining immigration documents due to the current pandemic, we advise all international student to start the process of obtaining a CAQ and study permit as soon as possible.

Can incoming Postdocs start their work remotely?

International postdocs cannot start their work remotely if they do not have a valid work permit and social insurance number.

How will I know whether I have any courses or components of courses that are going to be delivered in-person, requiring me to be on –campus?

If a course is being held remotely, students will not need to come to our campuses if they are unable to do so. If there are components of a class that are offered in-person, such components will also be available through remote delivery methods – students who are studying from elsewhere will not be disadvantaged. In these cases where there might be some in-person activities, course outlines are currently being prepared, and instructors will be communicating with students about this closer to the start of the Fall term.

In the case of an admission deferral, is the scholarship (entrance award) honoured?

For recipients of first time entrance scholarships, if admission deferral is granted then their scholarship will also be deferred, for details see https://www.mcgill.ca/studentaid/scholarships-aid/regulations-responsibilities/regulations

Will the Libraries be open for quiet study, even if we cannot access the stacks?

It is difficult at this stage to predict what will be possible or not in Libraries in the Fall.

 

 

 

 

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