We will continue to update this page as we learn more about the University’s response and the ways in which our members are affected by that response. Also see: The archive of all FAUW emails about COVID-19.
Last updated May 27.
PUBLIC HEALTH: The University's coronavirus website has links to major public health sites (under "Important links" on the main page). If you want information faster, consider following those organizations on Twitter.
UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS: Visit the News section of the Universty's coronavirus website for past messages to students, staff, and faculty, or the repository of mass communications to students and instructors on the Registrar's Office website.
REMOTE COURSE DELIVERY: Visit the Keep Learning website for options. You can direct questions about teaching not answered there to your associate dean.
WORKING REMOTELY: Visit the IST knowledge base for information about connecting to the campus network, your email, voicemail, and colleagues from home.
SUPPORT FOR MEMBERS: If you are struggling and need support, we encourage you to use the Employee & Family Assistance Program. Counselling is available by phone and online.
If you need help with your working conditions, contact our Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee. We will respond to your emails in priority order, starting with issues that impact many of you. Please note that we might not respond to individual-level concerns very quickly right now.
Here's what we know about how the pandemic is affecting our members.
Updated May 27: Student surveys and performance evaluations
The data generated by winter term student course perception surveys will only be provided to the instructor and will not be used in evaluation unless you share it voluntarily. We are actively advocating for the same arrangement for the spring term.
We know that research and service have also been affected. Rest assured we will advocate for a fair and understanding approach to all aspects of evaluation across campus.
It is possible to claim work-space-in-the-home expenses as a tax deduction. We are still waiting to hear how this applies to COVID-19 work-from-home orders. Human Resources has a section on their website about Claiming Employment Related Expenses via a T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment and the CAUT COVID-19 and the Academic Workplace page has some information. You can also refer to the Canada Revenue Agency page on work-space-in-the-home expenses. The University will be providing more information about this soon. Keep in mind that this will be for when you file your taxes next year, so there’s plenty of time to sort this out. In the meantime, keep track of your relevant expenses.
Definite term contracts
FAUW remains committed to fair treatment for definite term lecturers. We will rigorously defend definite-term lecturers’ right to six months’ notice if their contract is not being renewed, or termination pay in lieu of this notice. We will also fight for the proportion of teaching done at UW by our members to remain consistent—we don’t want to see our members replaced en masse by sessional instructors.
We encourage definite-term lecturers who may have had their conversion to a continuing appointment affected by the recent changes to contact FAUW so we can work together to understand the impacts and try to help move that process forward.
The University is not allowing any access to campus buildings for non-essential workers at this time. We assume there are many members who need one more trip to their office before the spring term and were pleased to see the latest update from the Safety Office April 22. Chairs and directors, please note that you can allow short, temporary access for employees to get items or supplies without which they could not otherwise complete their required work. See the Guidelines for building access page of the University's Coronavirus website for more detail.
Layoffs and financial exigency
Some of our members are concerned about faculty layoffs. Articles 16 and 17 of the Memorandum of Agreement between FAUW and the University set out the conditions under which FAUW members can be laid off due to financial exigency. Simply put, this would require a long-term situation with recurring deficits that threaten the financial viability of the University as a whole, and we're not there yet.
From the MoA: “The term financial exigency denotes the extraordinary and rare condition in which substantial and recurring financial deficits in the total University budget have occurred or, on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles, are projected to be ongoing, thereby placing the solvency of the University as a whole in serious jeopardy.”
Anyone with a planned sabbatical that has not yet started has an opportunity to cancel their sabbatical. This applies to both those who have an upcoming approved sabbatical and those who have applied for a sabbatical. If you have an upcoming sabbatical and the option to delay interests you, contact your Faculty Executive Officer.
Please note that FAUW is unable to provide advice on the merits of cancelling and thus delaying your sabbatical. The decision to cancel a planned sabbatical is a personal one fraught with incredible uncertainty. No one is currently able to say at what point your rescheduled sabbatical request will be approved, for example. What happens to your teaching assignments upon cancelling your sabbatical is a department-level decision.
New: We tried to discuss considerations for current sabbaticals with the University but were not successful on this front. Be sure to make note of the impacts of COVID-19 on your sabbatical in your sabbatical report and plan to do so for next year’s performance evaluation (and any other year that might be affected) as well. We are working to make sure performance evaluations for 2020 account for the many disruptions we’re all facing.
All tenure-track faculty members on probationary appointments now have the option to extend their tenure clock by one year, effective immediately. This includes those who were supposed to submit their package July 1, 2020.
For faculty members who want to continue with their submission this year, the process will continue on the usual timeline.
New: The Secretariat confirmed that members may make the decision to take the COVID-19 extension at any point up until their original tenure application date. You do not need to make this decision or fill out any forms until that time.
We confirmed that the COVID-19 extension is in addition to any other probationary contract extension you may be entitled to (e.g., parental or medical leave). You get the usual tenure clock extension for your leave and the one-year COVID extension.
Student disclosures of COVID-19 cases
Please refer to the University's steps for responding to student disclosures. As per communication from the University on April 8, you cannot legally tell anyone else about the disclosure. University and/or public health personnel will determine the level of contact tracing and communication that is appropriate, while maintaining the individual’s health privacy.
We recognize that the amount of time you devote to teaching may increase as a result of the recent changes. If you are teaching additional courses this spring, keep track as usual to account for this later. If the balance between your research/teaching/service changes significantly over the next term or two, contact our Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee (AF&T).
Chairs and directors are responsible for the equitable assignment of teaching duties. Recognizing that workloads may vary over time and circumstances such as those we all currently face, if you feel that you are experiencing unreasonable increases to workload and/or inequitable workload assignments arising from the transition to remote delivery, approach AF&T.
What you are able to deliver may not be up to your usual high standards and that’s ok. Try to focus on the few core concepts or experiences that you want your students to have in the limited time available. Help your colleagues. Reach out and help others get to where you are if you have experience with or have figured out a workable remote platform.
The University has extended the FPER deadline to June 1, 2020. It still only applies to expenses incurred April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020. If you can get your claim in by the original deadline, please do.
Visit the FPER Guidelines website for additional information.
Parking and GRT corporate passes
Parking fees are suspended and Payroll will not deduct parking fees from your pay. This will be revisited monthly.
Grand River Transit is free until June 1, 2020, and Payroll will not deduct GRT corporate pass fees from your pay for April or May.
Health insurance coverage while travelling
We cannot provide travel advice. Please contact Canada Life directly at 1-800-957-9777 (our plan number is 57130).
At its most basic, physical distancing is about decreasing the contact you have with others, for example by staying at home as much as possible. Working from home is a key distancing strategy. Other advice is available from various public health organizations, and the links are on the University’s coronavirus website. If you want information faster, check the Twitter feeds for these organizations (e.g., @CPHO_Canada).
University pandemic management
We are taking steps to make sure our members feel supported and empowered to protect themselves and others according to the advice of public health officials and use their expertise to figure out how to best continue their academic endeavours. FAUW will advocate for a post-event assessment and for the results of the assessment to be shared widely with the UW community.
We are looking into a number of other issues, many of them regarding the fall term. Here are some of the questions we've asked the administration but don't yet have answers to:
Who is ultimately responsible for decisions about course delivery and related support?
Who decides on the mode of delivery for specific individual courses (remotely, in person, or in combination)?
Recognizing that some synchronous opportunities are vitally important for student engagement, even if they are optional, will decisions about synchronous/asynchronous delivery for the fall term be brought to Senate via its Graduate and Undergraduate councils?
Can the Registrar’s Office decide to withhold fall term synchronous scheduling support, including course meetings and final examinations, without Senate approval?
How will faculty health and equity issues flowing from decisions about course delivery be handled:
What happens to in-person courses if there is a second wave of the virus and campus closes in the middle of fall term?
What forms of personal protective equipment will be required of faculty and students attending classes in person? Who will provide and pay for the equipment and cleaning? What recourse will faculty have if a student refuses to comply? [We haven’t formally posed this question yet]
What is the method for refusing in-person instruction for faculty who reasonably believe that they or someone they live with/provide care for are at risk?
How can we ensure that administrators (chairs, associate chairs, deans, associate deans) are educated about how to handle increased faculty physical and mental health concerns, expressed both formally and informally?
What happens if a faculty member is unable to complete teaching their course(s)?
How will the University monitor and respond to the disproportionate health and workload effects experienced by faculty who are members of equityseeking groups under the Ontario Human Rights Code?
What kind of access to technology can faculty expect of students studying remotely?
Are students and faculty being told about baseline technology requirements, such as the one used by CEL?
- Can instructors make additional requirements for particular courses?
- What is the University’s position on students who cannot meet technological requirements – should any or all such students be accommodated, and what is the specific role of faculty in accommodating? Is the answer the same for the Spring and Fall terms?
- If faculty are expected to make technological accommodations for students, how will faculty be supported in terms of expertise and time required to do so?
Looking for our COVID-19 emails?