Friday, April 3, 2020

Increasing support for students during COVID-19

A counsellor speaks to a student.

by Robin Morden. 

New student counsellor positions and a digital virtual care tool will be created to expand the wellness service offerings for co-operative education students at the University of Waterloo. The new services come at a time of heightened uncertainty for students, as rapid changes in response to COVID-19 compound the stresses associated with co-op terms.

Starting in spring 2020, the new counsellors will provide one-on-one counselling to prepare students for the challenges they face during work terms — including complications arising from the pandemic. Students will have faster access to mental health and wellness support through phone and virtual consultation. The digital tool will enable students to interact securely with campus wellness practitioners using video-calling technology.

“The health and well-being of our students is and will always be our top priority,” says Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor. “Our world is currently being faced with a tremendous amount of change and uncertainty and our students are not immune to these pressures. Waterloo is here for them. The creation of these additional counsellor positions will ensure that our remarkable students are well-supported whether they are taking advantage of a co-op position or working diligently on their academics.”

Neil and Gisele Murdoch.

Donors Neil and Gisele Murdoch.

The counsellor positions are made possible by a generous $1 million gift from Neil and Gisele Murdoch, parents of Waterloo alumni.

“The University of Waterloo is a world class institution featuring a renowned co-op program,” say Neil and Gisele Murdoch in a joint statement. “Student mental health is important to us and our family. We are pleased to support this mental health initiative to ease student stress and promote mental well-being throughout the transitions inherent to the co-op experience.”

Read more about the impact of this gift, and learn how you can help.

Provost addresses instructors via video

'These are unprecedented times and I know the University is asking a lot of you as instructors to make the shift to distance teaching in a very short amount of time," Provost Jim Rush said in a video memo circulated to instructors yesterday. "I’m grateful for your extraordinary efforts to complete the winter term in such difficult circumstances."

"Simply put, we all thank you."

"As instructors, we need to stay committed to engaging our students in their academic pursuits. This includes being available, virtually, to conduct instructional activities – holding office hours, responding to student inquiries, guiding the completion of course assignments – to support students as they navigate the term."

"I want you to know that you are not alone in trying to understand the ways you can meet these challenges. Colleagues with deep experience are sharing information with you and are ready to support you throughout these times."

Check out the provost's full memo

Academic leaders offer guidance on remote instruction

“Following the Provost’s message, we wanted to tell you about some coordination of information and supports the University is providing to instructors who are learning to deal with remote instruction,” says a memo from David DeVidi, associate vice-president, academic and Jeff Casello, associate vice-president, graduate studies and postdoctoral affairs circulated yesterday afternoon.

"Firstly, as you prepare for your spring course delivery, we want to emphasize a few points.

By remote instruction, we do not mean that we expect all courses to include the advanced technical elements of the fully online courses developed with the support of the Centre for Extended Learning. Such courses take months to prepare even with expert support. Most instructors do not have the time, expertise, or CEL support to create such a course between now and the start of Spring Term.

That, however, does not mean that students cannot have learning experiences in your courses that rise to the high standards the University of Waterloo delivers. By focusing on what the key learning objectives of your course are and the mechanisms you have available to allow students to achieve them, you can ensure that your course contributes what it should to the education of your students.

We are launching a new teaching and learning support team

Due to increased demand for teaching and learning support, the University is taking steps to coordinate supports and provide a single point of contact. The Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE), Centre for Extended Learning (CEL), Instructional Technologies and Media Services (IST-ITMS), and the Library have formed a Teaching and Learning Support Team. 

The team offers useful advice for instructors on the Keep Learning website. The site is regularly updated with resources about how to do remote teaching successfully. Here is what they sent in response to our request for their top three tips for remote teaching:

  1. Design courses that will work when you and all your students are in different locations and potentially different time zones and minimize reliance on synchronous activities that you are used to in face-to-face courses. High production standards (e.g., like CEL online courses) are not expected.  
  2. Most assessments will be open book, so focus on enabling students to do more than demonstrate past learning and adopt assessments that encourage them to synthesize and extend their learning. 
  3. Use educational technologies that are supported centrally or by your Faculty so you can get help and your students are exposed to fewer different technologies, which will help to maximize their success and reduce their cognitive load – remote courses will be a new experience for many students in the spring term.  

Please also remember to rely upon one another for ideas, guidance and support during this period. Colleagues in academic departments will be a valuable resource during this period. In fact, we’d like to recommend a personal experience from James Skidmore that he shared in the Daily Bulletin this week.

A new help contact for course design, teaching and more is coming

Instructors will be able to request course design, teaching strategy, or course reserves assistance through a centralized help contact which will be up and running later this week.

Our goal is to forward questions directly to someone who can provide the support you need, whether it’s a CTE liaison, a CEL consultant, a Librarian, or someone in another support unit such as the Writing and Communication Centre, AccessAbility Services, or Print + Retail Solutions. Details will be posted on the Keep Learning website.

Technical support questions should continue to be sent through

By combining the expertise of these units, instructors will have access to practical and timely support as they plan courses that provide a positive student learning experience during this challenging time.

Repository of communications to instructors

In recent weeks instructors have received many communications from: a variety of sources. To help you keep track of these communications and resources we have set up a repository on the COVID-19 website. You will find both the central communications to instructors as well as messages from the Faculty in which you are teaching."

Concept goes virtual and other notes

A woman with a microphone and clicker makes a presentation."Concept is evolving and adapting to continue to offer great entrepreneurial resources for students through these socially distant times," says a note from Concept. "There are brand new prizes for both the Concept $5K Finalists, and the audience members who join in on the fun. Since the finalists can’t deliver their pitches to a live audience, they have moved to YouTube and all pitch videos are now live! The video that receives the most likes by April 3 will be crowned as the first ever Concept People’s Champ and receive $500 for their startup idea so be sure to check out all the pitches and help choose the favourite."

Beyond the $5K Finals, Concept will continue to offer virtual coaching sessions, having plenty of swag giveaways, and keeping you updated on everything going on in this new virtual world. Check out the full update on Concept's blog.

"Turnkey currently is assisting the Student Food Bank during the pandemic – by assembling  hampers and as always distributing them to Students who need them," writes Student Life Centre Director Scott Pearson. "Demand hasn’t changed and with not as many donations sites on campus available and less people on campus, we are getting far fewer donations."

The donation box is available 24 hours a day in the SLC's lower level across from CIBC.    

"We have a particular need for breakfast items, canned fruit and snacks," Pearson writes. "Hampers are available 24 hours a day from the Turnkey Desk on the main level."

Pearson also reports that Greyhound has temporarily suspended service to and from the University of Waterloo effective Sunday April 5. Service will depart from Kitchener’s Charles Street terminal, however the ticketing agency is closed due to COVID-19. Ticketing remains available online or at Turnkey SLC.

GO Transit continues to service the campus, although they have adjusted their schedule to reflect the current situation.

Feds Used Books has transitioned to an online delivery model. Feds Used Books products can now be purchased online and shipped right to your door.

Several more Good Buddies of the University

Stanley the Miniature Daschund wearing a mortarboard.

"Submitting pictures of my coworker for the foreseeable future, Stanley the Miniature Dachshund," writes student Maliyah Bernard. "He’s helped me cope with the many recent changes, including online learning and teaching. I think he should get his Master's Degree too!"

Scott Nicoll works at his computer with a bird tucked under his arm.

"This youngster has decided computer time is snuggle time," writes Scott Nicoll, manager, space planning, of his feathered friend. "She is new to the family and needs a name. Suggestions welcome." 

Emma the cat sits curled up in her bed atop a work table.

"Meet Emma," writes Laura Zikovic, instructional digital media developer at the Centre for Extended Learning. "Emma turned 18 this month and despite having some mobility issues due to her arthritis, she is the sweetest little kitten at heart. She will sit behind my office chair and meow at me, asking for help to get up. I’ve since placed her bed on the side of my desk to discourage her tendency to curling up DIRECTLY in front of my monitors. Emma is a great example that no matter what is happening outside, she is content with the blessings she has inside." 

A cute dog on a couch.

"This is a picture of my pupper helping or maybe hindering my studying," writes student Racheal Monte.

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast Episode 38

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast banner featuring two vintage microphones.

And we're back! The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast, recorded in a remote location, is now live. In this first episode since COVID-19 brought significant changes to the University, Christine Purdon, a professor and psychologist, shares ways we can manage anxiety. We tell you about the many members of the UWaterloo community have stepped up to support our neighbours and frontline workers.  And courses go online.

Link of the day

45 years ago: Fischer forfeits

When and Where to get support

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment.

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely.

Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

The Writing and Communications Centre has gone virtual to provide assistance.

We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students.

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.

WUSA supports for students:

Student Food Bank food hampers are currently available 24/7 at the Turnkey Desk in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

MATES – Providing general online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please contact

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-844-741-6389.

Glow Centre - Providing online Peer Support for the LGBTQ2+ community via Skype to Undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please contact

The Women’s Centre – Providing online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please contact

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at . More information at

WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

When and Where it isn't

Please note: The University has suspended all in-person events until further notice. Please contact the event organizers to confirm whether the event has shifted to an online mode of delivery.

If you have listed an event with the Daily Bulletin and need to cancel, postpone or modify the listing, please send an email to

If you have an upcoming event that has not yet appeared in the When and Where listing, please send an email to to confirm the event's status.

Warrior Recreation online workouts, Monday to Friday, three times a day at 10:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Workouts will be broadcasted live through ZOOM Video Communications.

Writing and Communications Centre virtual writing cafés, Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Workplace Yoga Program is live-streaming classes every Wednesday in April from 12:05 p.m. to 12:50 p.m.  

Faculty Association Spring General Meeting, Tuesday, April 7, 12:00 p.m. Note: this event will take place online.

Managing Micro-aggressions in the Workplace, Tuesday, April 7, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Hosted by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, Register online.

NEW - Board of Governors meeting, Tuesday, April 7, 1:30 p.m., online.

Simple and Effective Online Teaching with Victoria Feth and James Skidmore, Wednesday, April 8, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

To join this online training session:

1. Go to the UWaterloo Webex site
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the session password: remotelearning
4. Click "Join Now".
5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Map the System Campus Finals, “A global competition that challenges students to think differently about social and environmental change.” Monday, April 6, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.mPlease note: The top three teams and campus nominee for the Map the System Canadian finals in May (to be held online) will now be selected based on written submissions due at 6:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 8.

Akindi Live Training (Webinar), Thursday, April 9, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

PhD oral defences

Kinesiology. Danielle Andrew, "Investigating cerebellar contributions to sensory processing." Supervisor, Richard Staines. Thesis on display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 2213. Oral defence Tuesday, April 7, online. 

Computer Science. Bahareh Sarrafzaden, "Supporting Exploratory Search Tasks Through Alternative Representation of Information." Supervsors, Edward Lank, Olga Vechtovoma. Thesis available from MGO ( Oral defence Tuesday, April 7, 1:00 p.m., location TBA.

School of Public Health and Health Systems. Taryn Sendzik, "Community partner mobilization strategies and practices employed by public health professionals in Ontario's Public Health Units to prevent falls among community-dwelling older adults." Supervisor, John Garcia. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 2213. Oral defence Wednesday, April 15, 1:00 p.m., online.

Combinatorics and Optimization. Jamie de Jong, "Jaeger's Strong 3-Flow Conjecture for Graphs in Low Genus Surface." Supervisor, Bruce Richter. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Thursday, April 16, 10:00 a.m.

Kinesiology. Kayla Fewster, "Exploring low to moderate velocity motor vehicle rear impacts as a viable injury mechanism in the lumbar spine." Supervisor, Jack Callaghan. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 2213. Oral defence Thursday, April 16, 1:00 p.m., online.