New guidelines for addressing non-compliance with COVID safety precautions under Policy 71

Monday, November 9, 2020

On Nov 9 the following email was sent to the graduate students


To: Graduate students

From:David DeVidi, associate vice-president, academic, Jeff Casello, associate vice-president, graduate studies and postdoctoral affairs

Subject: New guidelines for addressing non-compliance with COVID safety precautions under Policy 71

  • Failure to follow University guidelines and public health regulations is a non-academic offence under Policy 71 – Student Discipline
  • Penalties for non-compliance range from a letter of reprimand to a temporary ban from campus

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Waterloo has provided mandatory safety precautions for students and employees who are studying and working on campus. These mandatory precautions include wearing a face mask in common areas, physical distancing protocols and other measures. Students and employees must also comply with municipal, regional and provincial health regulations. Please note that if you require an exemption because of a medical condition or disability, you must provide appropriate documentation.

All members of the University – students and employees alike – have a shared responsibility to follow public health guidelines and protect yourselves by protecting others. Those of you serving in leadership roles, such as Teaching Assistantships (TAs), should lead by example

Students who fail to follow University mandatory safety precautions or the relevant public health regulations may be committing a non-academic offence under Policy 71 – Student Discipline.

Associate deans of each faculty (graduate and undergraduate) are responsible for addressing complaints under Policy 71, and they have developed a set of guidelines for members of the University community (students and employees) who witness violations of COVID-19 safety protocols. The guidelines include recommended penalties for offences under Policy 71 as they pertain to COVID-19. These penalties range from a student receiving a letter of reprimand to a temporary ban from campus.

You can review these guidelines on the Health and Safety page of the University’s COVID-19 website.

Addressing violations of safety protocols in public spaces

If you witness a student violation of COVID-19 mandatory safety precautions in a common indoor space (i.e. hallway, study room, or other common area), you may respectfully remind the student of the precautions if you feel comfortable doing so. Please review the guidelines to learn more about how Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour governs such interactions. If you do not feel comfortable addressing them, and the behaviour continues, you may contact University of Waterloo Police Services. Police Services may refer the matter to the appropriate associate dean, graduate studies.

Students who have a medical need for accommodations and exemptions from these safety precautions are not required to disclose the medical grounds for their exemption. However, they are expected to show the medical exemption verification form from the University to instructors, TAs, or Police Services, upon request.

Addressing violations of safety protocols in classrooms, labs and other teaching spaces

Your instructors should outline COVID-19 safety principles within their classes (e.g., ask students to leave the room should they need to remove their mask for some reason). If you witness a violation of mandatory safety precautions in a classroom or similar space, you should inform the instructor, TA, or lab supervisor responsible. They may then choose to address the matter directly with the student, contact the associate dean, or report to Police Services. Those graduate students with classroom instruction responsibilities should review the guidelines for more details about appropriate boundaries for discussion in these cases. Complaints made to the associate deans by instructors or Police Services will be handled following the principles and procedures of Policy 71.

Guidelines for the assessment of penalties under Policy 71

If a student is found to have violated the COVID-19 mandatory safety precautions, the associate dean may impose a penalty. The associate deans retain flexibility under Policy 71 when considering penalties for non-academic offences.

While these guidelines for addressing violations may seem punitive, we must balance that against our commitment to keep our entire University community safe.

Remember that we all have a role to play in protecting each other by observing all institutional safety precautions and government public health guidelines.

Thank you for doing everything you can to keep one another safe. Together, we will limit the spread of COVID-19 because Warriors protect Warriors.

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