On this page:
- Spring 2021 term information
- Winter 2021 term information
- Graduate student research
- Accessing campus
- International student supports
- Staying well
The recent surge in COVID cases in Ontario makes it clear that the virus and our collective efforts to stop the spread need our continued attention posing ongoing difficulties in planning for in-person learning.
With this in mind, our plans for the spring term will be in keeping with our current approach. This means that instruction will continue primarily online and in-person in limited situations as the regulations allow.
Spring term will start one week later than planned
We recognize that instructors and students need more time to transition between terms than the current academic calendar allows. To create more time between terms, the Senate has agreed that spring term dates will be revised as follows:
- Spring term will now start a week later on Monday, May 10
- Classes will end on Thursday, August 5
- Exams will begin on Saturday, August 7 and end by Monday, August 16 (the original last day of exams).
More details on the revised academic dates for the term are available below:
Please be assured that we are continuing to revise our plans for a safe and staged return to in-person activities as soon as the conditions allow.
Your health and wellbeing is our priority. Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other. Information about supports for students and employees can be found on the COVID-19 Information home page.
Information by faculty
Faculty of Arts
- Required In-Person - Clinical
- Some students continuing their assessment practicums through CMHRT (similar to Fall/Winter schedules)
- PSYCH 470C, 726C and 735C
- Required In-Person - Trades
- Master of Fine Arts students require access to East Campus Hall and the facilities – similar to Fall/Winter conditions.
- Course Code: FINE 692 Graduate Summer Studio
Faculty of Engineering
- Required In-Person (if health restrictions permit)
- Courses offered through Conrad
BET 600 - 608
BET 612, 615, 620
- Courses offered through Conrad
Faculty of Environment
- No in-person/on-campus courses or program requirements. All courses online.
Faculty of Health
- No in-person/on-campus courses or program requirements. All courses online.
Faculty of Mathematics
- Required In-Person
ACTSC 633, 634 and 635 (these are courses for students in the MActSc program – students spend all their time in the same room)
Faculty of Science
- Detailed information coming soon.
April 1, 2021 Update: The Government of Ontario has announced a province-wide shutdown effective April 3, 2021 for a period of 28 days. Instructors will consult with their associate dean or chair for clarity and direction and should inform students about class format (in-person or remote) as soon as possible.
Winter 2021 term delivery will be primarily online as we continue to follow the advice and guidance of public health office to ensure we are all safe.
Effective Tuesday, February 16, Waterloo Region will transition out of the provincial shutdown and into the Red – Control zone of the province’s revised COVID-19 response framework. This means that we can resume some course compents that were originally scheduled to be deleivered in-person.
Below is a summary of course currently being delivered in-person or permitted to resume in-person for winter 2021. Any course components that are delivered in-person will be done following the guidance of public health officials as required.
In-person delivery permitted
Essential (Currently running in-person)
Permitted to resume in-person
After consulting with student leaders and other campus groups, we have decided to make some updates to the winter 2021 term schedule:
- We will be delaying the start of winter term classes until January 11. All other winter term activities (such as co-op work terms) will begin as usual on January 4.
- Classes will be cancelled on Monday, March 15 and Tuesday, March 16 to create a four-day weekend from March 13 to 16.
- Reading week will continue as planned February 13 to 21.
Tips for serving as a Teaching Assistant (TA) during COVID-19
- Discuss and agree on expectations for your contributions to the course delivery over the term. If your program uses a TA agreement form, be sure to fill that out with the course instructor.
- Begin to coordinate with the instructor to understand the planned approach for delivering the course, particularly what technology the instructor intends to use.
- Understand from your instructor how students enrolled in the course will have their academic performances evaluated – through assignments, quizzes, exams, projects, etc. – and how those elements will be marked.
- Recognize that students who are enrolled in your course may be participating from various parts of the world, in different time zones, and potentially with limited access to technology. You should consider with your instructor how you can support students’ learning given these challenges.
- During the term, check-in with the instructor and discuss the progression of the TA position with respect to the hours assigned for this position.
- Visit the Keep Learning website for resources and support.
Tips for continuing your research during COVID-19
We recognize that government and public health have in some cases limited students’ ability to progress on their research. That being said, the University is eager to support you as you continue your scholarship.
- Continue to discuss your research with your supervisor. If you’re in a situation where you are not able to advance critical elements – lab work, face to face interviews, etc. – you and your supervisor may be able to identify research-related activities – writing portions of your thesis or research paper, creating drafts of manuscripts, or analyzing existing data – that can continue.
- Have an open conversation with your supervisor to create a set of expectations for the term. You may wish to review the research and supervisory expectations web page to understand the University’s expectations.
- Create a schedule for how you will resume or accelerate your research activities when public health regulations allow. Please note that the University will be actively monitoring this information and will be taking steps to restart research activities when they can be done safely.
- Engage with your committee members to maintain continuity in their and your understanding of how you are progressing.
- Stay in touch with your campus community, particularly your fellow students. Your peers can be excellent sources of support – both academic and personal – in this remote environment. Some recommended activities include meeting with your research group, participating virtually in seminars, or collaborating on writing sessions or cafes.
- Take advantage of University support for research, including the Library, the Writing and Communications Centre, as well as resources within your Faculty and Department.
In light of the extenuating circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is revising the time restrictions for graduate students. More specifically, the following changes are in place, effective immediately.
- If you are a graduate student who is within three terms of the time limit for a research milestone – comprehensive exam or research proposal – you will be granted a one term extension for your research milestone without the need for a petition under Policy 70.
- For example, as of winter 2020, PhD students enrolled in the third term of their program where a completed comprehensive exam is required not later than term four, may extend the timeline to term five without petitioning (see the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar for PhD comprehensive requirements details).
- Similarly, if you were given a fixed time limit to accomplish an academic outcome, e.g., securing a graduate supervisor or meeting minimum academic performance requirements, you will be granted an additional term to satisfy these requirements.
- If you are a graduate student who in winter 2020 is in the final term of your program time limit, typically term six for research master’s students and term 12 for PhD students, you shall have your time limits extended by one term. The implications of this consideration include the relaxation of the need to petition for time extension in the subsequent term.
- If you were beyond your time limits prior to winter 2020, there is no change in expectations.
April 16 update: The University is also eager to support students who are near to completing their graduate research program and to accelerate their paths to graduation. To this end, you are encouraged to discuss your progress and ways to accelerate your degree completion with your supervisor.
If you are anticipating meeting your academic milestones (including thesis proposals, comprehensive exams, final thesis defences), please note that these academic milestones will continue to be facilitated remotely for the foreseeable future - should other options become available, this will be communicated to the graduate studies community.
Review the new processes for remote thesis defences and contact your program co-ordinator or graduate supervisor(s) to make the necessary arrangements or to obtain more specific details for your program. Don't forget to check out the Remote defence: tips for success page.
Here is a list of resources available to you and your supervisor(s) as you prepare for your academic milestones remotely.
Submission of your approved thesis remains online – details are available on the thesis submission webpage.
The Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website contains up-to-date information on graduate practica and internships.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and guided by public health, earlier this year the University placed substantive restrictions on campus access. As public health limitations were relaxed, the University took efforts to restart research activities with a concentration on laboratory access. Protocols were put in place over several months to facilitate a safe return to on-campus research in laboratories.
Graduate students have communicated interest in access to non-laboratory campus facilities to promote their academic and specifically research progress. The University is eager to accommodate these students’ requests in ways that catalyze their academic success with an emphasis on safety.
To this end, the University and Faculties have developed protocols by which students and their supervisors can request access to campus. Visit the Campus Access page for details on how to access non-laboratory spaces.
The University and Faculties have also worked collaboratively to develop a common set of considerations and criteria to be used in the vetting of these requests, while still acknowledging Faculties’ local conditions.
Recognizing that the situation remains dynamic, these criteria may evolve over time based on guidance from public health.
Students for whom a return to non-laboratory campus facilities is approved are agreeing to follow all University, Faculty and public health safety protocols and best practices.
Detailed information is available for many frequently asked questions. Please refer to the following FAQ categories for more information:
- Incoming international students: immigration information
- Current international students: general information
- Current international students: immigration information
The University’s International Student Experience provides a variety of supports, available online, for international students including:
- Waterloo Student Quarantine Package
- COVID-19 Travel and Quarantine Checklist
- International Student Travel Plans and Quarantine Form
- International Peer Community facebook group
- Virtual events
- Monthly International Student Connection email newsletter.
There are resources available during this time of in flux. Visit the resources section on the COVID-19 information website or the work from home and remote resources on the GSPA website that has been compiled specifically for graduate students. If you come across resources you want us to make more widely available to other graduate students, we would be happy to do so; please contact Sarah Howard in GSPA.
Help is available
We understand that many of our students have family members in areas affected by COVID-19. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health or Counselling Services.
Please visit or call Health Services (519-884-4096), drop by the Counselling Services office in Needles Hall North, 2nd Floor or phone 519-888-4567 ext. 32655. Visit the Campus Wellness page for hours of operation and additional information. Campus Wellness services are provided at no charge in a private and confidential setting to University of Waterloo students who are currently registered or on a co-op term.
The COVID-19 Information home page provides information on a number of additional resources.
Although the doors of AccessAbility Services and the Exam Centre are temporarily closed, our staff our still available and committed to students. AAS will continue to support students with assistive technology, learning strategy support, and accommodation consulting to ensure you are supported in the online space.
A new online Petition for Exception to Academic Regulations - Graduate Students (Form 70A) has been created. Students may submit this form in accordance with Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances) – Section 3 and Appendix A; Policy 70 provides information and explains the difference between petitions and grievances.
If you are demonstrating symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you can now self-declare (via a Quest form) notifying the university that you are unwell.