The start of 2021 has presented us with new challenges relating to COVID-19. Case counts in the province spiked; a stay-at-home order was issued; and we faced an outbreak in Student Housing. It has been a difficult time for all of us, and I am proud of how well our faculty, staff and students have navigated these issues.
The University has strict health and safety protocols in place, including physical distancing measures, masking requirements, limiting the number of people on campus and increased cleaning requirements. They are consistent with public health and government requirements and have been developed in consultation with epidemiologists. When followed properly, these safety measures do work. These measures, combined with the increased availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, will help us ensure the health and safety of our University community.
We are working hard to address today’s challenges, plus at the same time, we must also start planning for what comes next. As restrictions lift, we must be ready to safely welcome our students, faculty, staff and community back to our campus and facilities.
Fall 2021 course delivery and returning to facilities this spring
Our Return to Campuses steering committee, its subcommittees and many units across the University are working on plans that will allow for a safe gradual return to face-to-face learning for the fall 2021 semester.
We anticipate that this spring we will begin welcoming increased numbers of faculty and staff back to our campuses and facilities, following strict health and safety protocols and public health guidelines. This gradual return will help us ensure we can provide a safe environment for everyone. The safety of our community will always be the University’s top priority, and we will closely follow all public health guidelines.
There are many questions to answer and details to sort through, but we expect that a significant degree of face-to-face course delivery will be available in the fall. Our instructors have developed and shared best practices to teaching and learning in the adverse circumstances we have faced over the past year that can be drawn upon going forward.
COVID-19 has been challenging and, as we prepare for fall 2021, we recognize the very hard and significant amount of work done by our faculty and staff to create, adapt and support course delivery. We will continue to support you and work with the faculty association to establish agreement as we move forward planning for a healthy and robust Fall 2021.
We will continue to closely monitor public health and epidemiologic guidance, mass testing strategies and the rollout of vaccinations in Ontario, Canada and internationally. We expect to have more detailed guidance about course delivery plans by the end of the Winter semester to allow instructors time to successfully prepare for teaching in the fall.
The University of Guelph is committed to teaching and research excellence. Your hard work and contributions over the past year have been integral in delivering on that commitment. I look forward to seeing you all in person sometime in the months ahead.
Charlotte A.B. Yates
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Guelph