Dear University of Guelph Community Members:
Amid the uncertainty and frustration caused by the Omicron variant, we know that our University community is seeking clarity about the winter 2022 semester.
Since sharing a community message last Friday, we have consulted extensively with Public Health as well as with key internal and external stakeholders. These consultations have helped shape our decision-making and planning for the winter semester and for current and possible future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our priority is to preserve the quality of the academic, research and student experience while keeping our University and communities safe.
Learning and working together in person are critical to mental health and well-being for many students, faculty, staff and other members of our U of G community. In-person learning and working also have a positive impact on learning outcomes and are a fundamental part of the student experience at U of G.
Winter Semester Course Delivery and Extension of Some Remote Learning
In-person teaching has already resumed in some courses or components of courses where face-to-face activities such as labs and studios are critical to achieving learning objectives; they will continue to be delivered in this format.
We will be phasing in some other in-person courses or course components on Jan. 24 in courses where instructors have determined it necessary to ensure learning objectives for the semester; you will receive information via email from your instructors or through CourseLink if you are in these courses.
On Jan. 31, in-person course delivery will resume, and students should plan accordingly.
We understand that these changes to delivery formats may affect students’ planning. We are extending the 100-per-cent tuition refund deadline to Jan. 23. Questions about tuition may be directed to email@example.com. The winter semester course add deadline is Jan. 14. However, students may request late adds through their program counsellors and instructors; we encourage students to seek guidance from their academic program counsellors as required.
On-site work for employees
On-site employee presence is fundamental to creating high-quality living and learning environments and to supporting our students through in-person service. For employees whose roles directly support students, the expected physical return to our campuses will be by Jan 31. The return of employees whose jobs are not student-facing will follow implementation of operational plans gradually during the weeks that follow. More detailed information will be included in the next COVID-19 update.
We encourage all employees to speak with their manager or immediate supervisor when issues arise that require flexibility and support. For those working or learning on our campuses, if you are experiencing symptoms, have tested positive or have other health-related COVID-19 questions, please phone the COVID-19 call centre at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53906, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A balanced approach
It is becoming clear that COVID-19, in various forms, will be with us for the foreseeable future. Our strategy for navigating the pandemic as it moves toward the endemic phase will remain rooted in evidence-based decision-making that considers the physical and mental well-being of all community members. We will focus on preventing serious illness and hospitalizations, not on counting positive cases.
As we return to our campuses, we will work together to prioritize the prevention of severe health outcomes by relying on proven public health measures, notably high vaccination rates. The University continues to encourage everyone who can get vaccinated to do so. Vaccination is one of our most effective tools for managing COVID-19. At U of G, 96 per cent of our community is fully vaccinated, and in the city of Guelph, 85 per cent of the eligible population (age 5 and up) is fully vaccinated, higher than the provincial average. These high vaccination rates help ensure a safe return of in-person work and learning.
We will continue our discussions with public health experts and, as we have done during the past two years, we will rely on their guidance as we monitor and respond to pandemic developments. We will continue with our multi-layered approach to ensuring safe campuses, including our vaccine mandate, mask-wearing, ventilation, physical distancing where required, enhanced cleaning and hand-washing. As always, we are committed to keeping you informed.
We will also continue to rely on the compassion, kindness, flexibility and tenacity that our U of G community has shown in abundance during the past two years.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)