This message was originally sent to employees by Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor, and James W. E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic and Provost.
Welcome to another non-traditional start to the New Year. While the break may not have been all that we wished for, we do hope that everyone had some time to rest, recharge and connect with family and friends.
Yesterday, the Government of Ontario announced that it would move to a modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen starting tomorrow. At the University, we are already well positioned to manage this change to Ontario’s public health protection measures.
Before the Winter Break we moved most teaching and learning online until January 24, and we asked all employees who can work from home to do so until the same date. To align with the government direction, we will extend these arrangements until January 27. Guidance from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities indicates that essential in-person learning activities are permitted to continue as previously planned, however, recreation facilities are now closed and food services on campus will be take out only.
We know that this late change by the government means many people in our community will now need to balance their responsibilities at work with support and care-giving responsibilities, including children who are learning from home until at least January 17.
We need to look out for one another as we all grapple with a year starting with changes, again. We are asking leaders, managers, chairs and department heads to be mindful of individual circumstances and be flexible particularly in accommodating people as they deal with the delay in returning to in person learning for children at school.
We are working on proactive measures to support people who must come to campus
We know that for many people, returning to the campus is a necessity – even while most of our community learns and works remotely. This means that for people in the highest risk roles and situations who work on our campus we are working to obtain more rapid antigen tests and we continue to procure medical-grade masks that are available through Central Stores.
Whether you are coming to campus or not, there are ways in which you can help flatten the curve and protect yourself against severe illness:
- Get a booster dose as soon as possible, and make sure eligible children are vaccinated as soon as possible. The evidence is now clear that boosters are highly effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization. What’s more, we expect that booster doses will become part of being “fully vaccinated” in Ontario soon and will be required to access our campuses in due course.
- Wear a mask that fits well, has multiple layers, and has an effective filter layer. You can expect detailed guidance from the Safety Office on new protective equipment guidelines for working on our campuses later today. Wherever you go, please always follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) recommendations on masks.
- Limit your contact with other people and stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. You can take this self-assessment if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.
As we review the government guidelines, we will advise if any changes are needed to research activities on campus.
If we all do our part now to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and protect the healthcare system, we can get back to in-person learning and working. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work to obtain the safety supplies of masks and rapid tests that will support us when we return to in-person activities.
Please keep watch on your email, our social media channels, and the COVID-19 information website for more help and information.