Winter term will return to pre-pandemic levels of in-person instruction
"As vaccination levels continue to rise, we are confident that we can prepare for a winter term that will allow for a return to in-person academic experiences," write President Vivek Goel and Provost James Rush in a memo circulated to the campus community this morning. "Though none of us can predict exactly how the pandemic will change over the months to January, we know that vaccination is the key to getting to a post-pandemic experience of teaching and learning."
"In Ontario, almost 80 per cent of people aged over 12 are fully vaccinated. On our campuses, more than 95 per cent of more than 30,000 people who have disclosed their vaccine status are fully vaccinated. A significant portion of the remainder have told us they have already had one dose and will be fully vaccinated by our October 17 deadline."
"These trends are extremely positive and give us confidence to continue expanding in-person experiences," Goel and Rush write.
"This term we have expanded in-person experiences and have put measures in place to protect and promote safety. Looking ahead, as we plan to deliver a more normal level of winter term classes in person, we will continue to work with our local public health team to make sure our plans protect your physical and mental health. This means we will largely return to our pre-pandemic approaches to academic life at Waterloo. You can find more information on approaches by faculty on the COVID-19 information website later this week."
"In the coming days we will open our undergraduate course selection for the winter term and all students can start to plan for a term of learning in person that has not been possible since early 2020. Graduate student course selection is available in December."
"To make this happen, we must remain vigilant as the fourth wave of the pandemic unfolds and play our part in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Please continue to follow mask-wearing, physical distancing and other public health instructions throughout this fall term."
"We recognise that some international students may continue to face barriers in getting to Canada. We are committed to working with these students and our government partners to address these problems before the winter term begins. If you need help, please contact our immigration consulting team."
"As always, our plans will remain flexible in case public health conditions change and we need to scale back in person experiences. If we need to make changes, we will share information with you as soon as possible."
"If you have not already done so, please provide your proof of vaccination as soon as possible – even if you don’t plan on being on campus until January," the president and provost's memo concludes. "You can submit your proof of vaccination or start the process for accommodation today by visiting Campus Check-In."
Employees of the Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo should continue to follow their internal self-delaration guidelines.
Equity Survey: new ways to complete the survey, leader board campaign launches
A message from Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (HREI).
It has been almost three months since we launched Waterloo’s first Equity Survey. Over 10,000 students and employees have completed the survey, but as we get closer to the first pause in data collection (October 31), we want to maximize participation rates and ensure that our first reports back to the campus community in late Fall 2021 accurately reflect all our students and employees.
To further encourage every student and employee to complete the survey, we are happy to announce two key initiatives:
- Starting today (September 20), there are now two ways to participate in the Survey; choose whichever method is most convenient for you:
- All students and employees, including those who are new to the University, will receive an email this week to participate in the Equity Survey
- All campus community members will find a link to participate within the announcements and alerts in Learn, Student Portal, and Workday. The link contained in announcement will take you directly and securely to the Equity Survey.
- See how your Faculty and area of campus stacks up with others in the Equity Survey Leader Board. Encourage others to complete the survey and watch your numbers go up.
Postdoc Showcase kicks off appreciation week
A message from Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. This is the first in a week-long series of posts in support of National Postdoc Appreciation Week.
In honor of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (September 20-24), Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs will be showcasing just a few of the nearly 400 talented postdocs at University of Waterloo. Additionally, we’ll share a “postdoc fact of the day” each day this week.
Stefanie Czischek is a postdoc with the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Faculty of Science. She is working with Roger Melko on applications of ANN methods in quantum physics, while collaborating with the Perimeter Institute Quantum Intelligence Lab (PIQuIL).
John Edison Munoz Cardona is a postdoc with the Department of Systems Design Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering. He is working with the Human Optimization Modelling Lab and the Games Institute, conducting research into how human body signals can create more "humanized" assistive technologies based on games and interactive systems.
Are you also a postdoc doing important work here at the University of Waterloo? If so, please Share Your Story with us so that we can add you to our collection of People Profiles celebrating the contributions of other amazing postdocs in the UWaterloo community.
Postdoc fact of the day: National Postdoc Appreciation Week
National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) has been around for a decade, launched in 2009 by the National Postdoctoral Association. The goal was initially to celebrate postdoc contributions to U.S. research and discovery, but the idea quickly spread to other areas of the world. Today over 115 institutions in the US, Canada, Germany, the U.K., Asia and Oceania celebrate NPAW. University of Waterloo has been participating in this event since 2016, and has one of the largest Canadian postdoc celebrations in Canada.
Alumni Relations, Faculty of Arts explore humans and interconnectivity
This article was originally published in the Arts & Letters newsletter.
How will 5G technology change the way we work and play? What does the growth of the Internet of Things mean to education, health care, private life? Will this new form of interconnectivity benefit everyone, or will some find themselves left behind?
And what is the Internet of Things, anyway?
For thoughts on these questions and more, the University of Waterloo invites you to attend “Humans and Interconnectivity,” a virtual panel discussion and networking lunch-hour event on September 24 to explore the promise—and challenges—of the increasing interconnectivity that comes with 5G technology and the Internet of Things.
Christine McWebb, Director of the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, will moderate a conversation between Jorge Fernandes, Chief Technology Officer, Rogers Communications; Leah Zhang-Kennedy, assistant professor in Interaction Design and User Experience at the Stratford School; and Catherine Burns, professor in Systems Design Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Human Factors and Healthcare Systems at the University of Waterloo.
To get a handle on the topic and a taste of the discussion to come, we turned to professors McWebb and Zhang-Kennedy.
“We are firmly embedded, right now, in the era of 4G connectivity technologies,” says McWebb. “Historically, about every ten years there is a new generation invented, perfected and implemented. So, it’s safe to say that the next ten years will be predominantly about 5G.” 5G’s rapid speed “enables many, many more services than are available right now, because we are no longer limited to the capacity of say, one cell tower,” she explains.
That speed supports and is generated by the Internet of Things: “With 5G, devices themselves can become cell towers. And that is what we mean by the Internet of Things,” McWebb says. “It’s not just one device that’s responsible for connecting devices to each other; any device that is connected can potentially become a node, spreading signals to other devices.”
How will this increasing interconnectivity affect our relationships to each other and to the world around us? And how is it different from plain old connection? “Connection is dual—back and forth—while interconnectivity is broader, with multiple ways out and multiple ways in,” McWebb adds.
Zhang-Kennedy adds, “As human beings, we’re always craving connection with other individuals. To me, interconnectivity is more about the technology that enables connection. But it can also be disabling. For example, online hate and cyberbullying can be crippling and cause a lot of harm. These challenges need to be considered, but there is also lots of opportunity for furthering social good — and we’ll be exploring both aspects in the panel.”
As for its impact on daily life, Zhang-Kennedy explains, “Everything is going to be wireless. Wireless connectivity will become so embedded in everyday life that even though there will be more connectivity, it’s going to become more invisible because it will be embedded into everyday objects: our thermometers, lamps, refrigerators, but also, say, the lights on our streets.”
To use an example in development at the Stratford School: Zhang-Kennedy’s students worked with Rogers as an industry partner to develop a capstone project that, through 5G, can give public transit users access to real-time information about businesses, services, and historical and cultural features along their route. Riders can consult an interactive, zoomable map at transit stops, download the same map as an app, or—more futuristically—information can be displayed directly on vehicle windows made of smart glass.
Professor Burns will bring expertise on the possibilities 5G opens up for healthcare beyond hospital walls, such as access to care for remote communities and patient monitoring through wearable technology. Fernandes will help the panel explore the issue of the digital divide between the northern and southern hemispheres and locally within Canada. Broadband technology has begun to address that divide, “but what does that look like under 5G?,” asks McWebb. “Is it going to mitigate the divide, or is it going to make it worse?” The panel discussion will also consider ethics in design as innovators explore the new possibilities opened up by 5G technology.
Join us over lunchtime on September 24, 2021, for Humans and Interconnectivity, presented by Alumni Relations in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts.
- Networking 11:45-12:00 p.m. ET
- Panel discussion 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET
- Extended Q&A and Networking 1:00-1:30 p.m. ET
Senate meets; notes about Election Day
The University's Senate meets virtually today at 3:30 p.m. Among the agenda items:
- A motion to approve the appointment of Catherine Dong as undergraduate student representative on the University's Board of Governors for a term to 30 April 2022;
- A motion to approve the appointments of undergraduate student Sarina Nathoo as the Faculty of Health representative and graduate student Nicholas Palaschuk as the Faculty of Environment representative on the University Committee on Student Appeals for a term running to 30 April 2023; and
- A motion to adopt a Fall Reading Week, extending from the Saturday before, to the Sunday after the Thanksgiving Day public holiday in October, as an ongoing part of the University's calendar of academic dates.
This is the first meeting of the University's Senate since June, and the first meeting presided over by President Vivek Goel.
It is Election Day today, where voters across the country will decide the makeup of Canada's 44th Parliament. Polls will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Ontario.
"By law, everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day," says the Elections Canada website. "If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off."
There will be polling stations set up at the Student Life Centre today for the federal election. Students living in residence who are 18 years of age and older who are Canadian citizens will be able to vote at the stations in the SLC.
All other students, staff and faculty will have to vote at their designated polling station based on their current mailing address.