For complete information on Grebel and the University's response to COVID-19, visit UWaterloo's Coronavirus website.


The University of Waterloo has announced that Winter term 2021 Classes will be primarily online with some courses, activities and supports available in person. As a result, all Grebel courses will be online for Winter 2021.

Information for students in the Residence program can be found on the student services webpage, including specific details for the fall term. 

The Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario are providing remote and limited on-site services. See the Fall Term Library Services  page for details.

Fall 2020 Covid Update

August 27, 2020

Building Togetherness: Grebel’s Fall Term Covid Update

The run-up to the fall 2020 school year is like nothing Conrad Grebel University College has experienced before. After six months of varying degrees of isolation and social distancing, Grebel is welcoming a small cohort of students to the residence while offering courses remotely. Although summer is traditionally a slower time at the College, this year, faculty and staff spent that time optimizing courses to be taught online, poring over potential residence scenarios, and ensuring that the facilities and opening procedures will provide the most safe and healthy environment possible for the entire Grebel community.

“The pandemic has dramatically changed how we get ready to welcome our students,” said President Marcus Shantz. “Every decision we have made in preparation for reopening is based on guiding principles: to protect the health and safety of everyone who lives, works, and studies on the Grebel campus, to provide our people with the resources they need to succeed, and to find new ways to express our mission.”

Faculty have been teaching their classes remotely since mid-March and will continue to do so until at least December. “As part of the Faculty of Arts, Grebel’s courses are fully integrated into the University of Waterloo,” explained Dean Troy Osborne. “Waterloo’s decision to offer most courses remotely means that Grebel is not offering in-person instruction. Our professors have worked earnestly to make these courses accessible and inspiring.” While this year has been anything but predictable, preliminary undergraduate enrolment numbers for the fall term are promising, and Grebel’s two graduate programs expect a strong cohort.

The Music Department is using the pandemic as a unique opportunity to focus on music fundamentals through an online music performance experience that will use technology to bring students together. Seven available ensembles will emphasize collaboration, teamwork, and instrumental and vocal technique. 

In an effort to support the core teaching, learning, and research needs of Grebel students, faculty, and staff, the Milton Good Library will offer a variety of services during the fall term. In addition to the current offering of contactless pickup of library materials, there will be some walk-in services, limited study spaces for Grebel students, and, eventually, archival materials available by appointment.

Although most faculty and staff at Grebel will continue to work from home, the Grebel residence will be at half-capacity with about 72 students, each in their own room. As well, 32 upper-year students will live as household units in the apartments and about 75 students will connect virtually from their family homes or associate homes. Grebel’s Student Services team, along with Food Services and facilities staff, have worked all summer to ensure that living arrangements for fall are safe and follow the latest Public Health protocols.

“Opening our residence during COVID-19 means that we all need to adjust our expectations,” commented Director of Student Services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr. “Some of our most beloved Grebel traditions, like our All-College Retreat, Commencement, Taste of Grebel, and even Community Supper as we know it, will be impacted. Even still, we are confident that together we can co-create a good term and year.” Student Services staff will work alternately in the Grebel building and from home, with someone always present to support students.

Student leaders have thought carefully about new ways to build community, and have many virtual and socially distant plans for orientation and the fall term as a whole. “We are confident that we can help our students thrive in this university setting by supporting them in their academic pursuits and challenging them to grow and reach out, even with restrictions,” added Brubaker-Zehr.

Students returning to Grebel will be the first to enjoy the College’s brand-new kitchen. With ample room for physical distancing and generous air circulation, students entering this bright space will be welcomed by Food Services staff operating under strict Public Health protocols. The dining room is partially renovated and can easily accommodate this year’s residents. Tables are carefully positioned to ensure proper distancing, and, to ensure that students can eat together safely, clear plastic barriers will allow for friendly smiles and conversation.

Unfortunately, Grebel can’t host in-person events, concerts, lectures, or other gatherings for the rest of 2020. However, the College will continue to foster community virtually. The Music Department is offering a free virtual Noon Hour Concert series. The 1960s Era Reunion will take place online on Saturday, September 26. The Conflict Management Certificate Program, after pivoting this spring to offer online workshops, has a dozen workshops scheduled for the fall term. Students, faculty, and staff will still participate in Chapel over Zoom, and virtual associates will have countless ways to connect with each other over the term.

“Grebel’s culture is to build togetherness as a college community and our commitment is to work toward this goal, even in a time of social distancing,” reflected Shantz. “Our focus for the fall term is to deliver an engaging residential program and excellent courses for our students. With stringent cleaning, clear physical distancing protocols, and a spirit of flexibility, the 2020-21 school year will be a memorable one!”  


Fall 2020 Ensembles will be offered in VIRTUAL format

Tuesday, August 26

flute player onlineThe Music Department at the University of Waterloo is using the Covid-19 situation as a unique opportunity to focus on the fundamentals through an online music performance experience that will use technology to bring students together.  Seven available ensembles will emphasize collaboration, team-work, and instrumental and vocal technique.  Guest artists and speakers will give presentations, and there will be small group instruction as well. During this challenging time, this opportunity for creative and social activities is more important than ever.  Ensemble courses are available to all University of Waterloo students, including graduate students.  Please see the Ensemble page for details:
https://uwaterloo.ca/music/ensembles   Ensembles are available for credit.

See this video from the directors of the Integrated Online Instrumental Music for a sampling of creative programs: 


COVID-19’s Impact on Grebel Programs and Plans

July 14, 2020

Information for students in our Residence program can be found on the student services webpage.  Director of Student Services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr, outlines specific details for the fall term and instructions about moving in. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Grebel Kitchen May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many changes and challenges for Conrad Grebel University College. While construction on the kitchen and dining room expansion continues, many other activities have been curtailed or adjusted.

The spring term that runs from May to August at the University of Waterloo is being taught entirely online in light of the pandemic. Grebel’s residence is entirely empty, resulting in significant temporary staff layoffs. However, there are 23 students living in six units in the College’s on-campus apartment building. “We are running a slimmed down program for these students, with virtual chapels, community suppers, online Student Council events, and some socially distant group gatherings,” said Mary Brubaker-Zehr, Director of Student Services.

Grebel classes onlineCourses at Grebel are integrated into the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo. This term, the College is offering ten courses online, ranging from Roots of Conflict to Popular Music, and enrolments are strong for these courses. Plans for the fall term are evolving, but at this point, the direction is similar to the spring term, where undergraduate and graduate courses will be delivered remotely. The main difference between spring and fall is that Grebel professors might have more freedom to include synchronous elements.

“Grebel’s instructors are already developing exciting ideas for adjusting to online teaching,” said Dean Troy Osborne.

"Although social distancing measures impact our normal way of doing things, the associated challenges provide unique opportunities to identify and more intentionally cultivate the core qualities of Grebel's music program,” said Laura Gray, acting Music Department Chair. “The creativity needed to meet those challenges can be energizing, not only for faculty, but for students too."

Plans for residence living in a traditional dorm with shared rooms and washrooms is much more difficult. Grebel has planned for only single room occupancy in the fall term to allow for more social distancing. “We are also upgrading our washrooms and plan to have robust sanitization protocols in place to ensure that we comply with public health best practises,” explained Brubaker-Zehr. “Even with all of this, we need to get creative with how we create community and support students both on- and off-campus!”

“I’ve been very thankful for the way our faculty and staff have made adjustments and accommodations to respond to the needs of our students,” added President Marcus Shantz.

For the latest updates from the University of Waterloo related to the pandemic, visit the University’s COVID-19 Information website.


Grebel’s New Normal

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Ducks at Grebel

The only visitors to the Grebel campus these days have feathers. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, students, faculty, and staff have settled into a new normal of working and studying from home.

Academic departments remain open, supporting current students and attending to inquires from prospective students. Student Services has switched to virtual tours and online interviews for incoming students. Administrative services, including finances, are also carried out remotely, and donations continue to be processed. Grebel’s library and archives are still accessible through the website, and staff are attending to the needs of students and researchers at a distance.

Grebel’s academic departments are showing great agility in the shift to remote learning and examinations this term, as well as in their preparations for several online courses in the spring term. Dean Troy Osborne noted, “We are optimistic that we will see above-normal academic enrolments for our newly on-line courses. For example, both sections of Simon Wood’s Popular Music and Culture are heavily enrolled.”

The residence is empty now and will remain so throughout the spring term (May to August), but the College’s apartments will house about 18 upper-year students in the spring. “We are glad, even in these difficult times, to provide some housing for our students,” explained Director of Student Services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr. “The spacious four-bedroom apartment units have two washrooms each and independent kitchens so we feel that students can keep their social distance.”

Students are staying remarkably connected in spite of being off campus. The Chapel Committee arranged a virtual chapel service last week, and plans are underway for an online term-end banquet, complete with senior reflections and a talent show. One tradition that will not be switched to a virtual event is Convocation. Plans are underway to host an event in Waterloo on Sunday, October 25, the same weekend as the University of Waterloo’s Fall Convocation.

The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is still active – from a distance – and continues to support Epp Peace Incubator participants and visitors with digital tools. Also rising to the challenge, the Conflict Management Certificate Program has pivoted to offer synchronous online workshops in conjunction with Credence and Co.

“Our people are working hard – and they’re working with grace and good cheer,” reflected President Marcus Shantz.  “We’ll keep adapting to deliver our programs as best we can, and to connect with people in new ways.”  

As a direct response to the needs of students who have lost co-op and summer jobs and who are facing adverse conditions, Grebel has established the Emergency Bursary Fund. Donations to this fund can be made online or in the mail. Donations will directly support students and allow them to continue their studies.

Grebel will continue to synchronize its programs and activities with the University of Waterloo, taking cues from decisions made on campus. For full details on UWaterloo’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit their Coronavirus website.


A Message from the President

March 20, 2020

Events in the last week have unfolded rapidly, and many of us have had to make changes to our daily lives in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm inspired and hopeful at how the whole world seems to be coming together to face this common challenge.

At Grebel, we are following the University of Waterloo's lead, and moving to online classes and exams. We have also cancelled all of our events until further notice, including our Convocation service. Most residents have moved out and a few students remain in the apartments. Almost all of our faculty and staff are working from home and can be contacted using the office directory. The Milton Good Library is closed, although virtual services continue.

Understandably, there is much disappointment in our college community. I want to convey my thanks for the understanding spirit that our students, faculty, and staff have shown during these times of uncertainty. We pride ourselves on being a strong community and it is during times like this that we can support each other, even if we are 6 feet apart. 

We would like to share this Pandemic Prayer written by Grebel Professor Carol Penner, from her blog Leading in Worship.

Thanks for your understanding during these unprecedented times.

Marcus Shantz, President
Conrad Grebel University College


Grebel Update 

March 20, 2020 

Beginning Sunday March 22, all buildings at Grebel (residence, academic and apartments) will be kept locked 24/7. Any student, faculty, or staff wishing to enter should use the keys assigned to them. A sign will posted on the doors with a number to call for any service personnel, courier deliveries etc. that require entry. Grebel’s Reception desk and Main Office will also be closed beginning Monday March 23.

Most faculty and staff are working from home and are available by email or phone. Access the Grebel directory.

Most residents have moved out and limited services are being provided for the few that remain in residence and in Grebel’s apartment building. Full details have been communicated to residence students and apartment dwellers. If you are a Grebel resident or apartment dweller who has questions or concerns about this, please contact Mary Brubaker-Zehr.

This is a stressful time for everyone. Students requiring support are encouraged to contact Mary Brubaker-Zehr, Director of Student Services or Ed Janzen, Chaplain. Staff and faculty needing support are encouraged to contact UWaterloo’s Employee Assistance Program, who are offering counselling sessions by phone for people feeling anxious about the pandemic and its ripple effects.

The Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario are closed, although virtual services continue.

The Grebel Gallery at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is closed. More details.