To the Laurier community.
Nothing is more important to Wilfrid Laurier University than the health and well-being of our students, staff and faculty. I would like to share with you some significant decisions we have made today, with the support of Senate Executive and Finance Committee, to help protect the university and surrounding communities from the impact of the global COVID-19 health crisis. The adjustments outlined below will help “flatten the curve” — stop the spread of the virus — and we will have to make these adjustments together in a spirit of collaboration and community responsibility. I’m confident we will get through this difficult time with understanding, grace and resolve.
- Laurier is discontinuing in-person instruction in all courses effective Monday, March 16 at 8:30 a.m. for the remainder of the winter 2020 term. Next week, instructors will develop and communicate a plan for alternative instruction and assessment to enable students to fulfill learning outcomes and receive course credits.
- Faculty members are being offered support to make this transition. We recognize that some courses are already taught in a blended online and in-class format. Other courses will require a substantial shift. This is new to all of us. We will need to be patient with each other as we do so. Faculty members will hear from their deans about the discretionary decision making that may be necessary as courses are adjusted.
- Students will not be required to come back to campus to write mid-term or final exams. Final exams will not take place in-person. Students will hear directly from their instructors by March 20 about any outstanding course work, assignments and revised plans for how the final evaluation will be administered.
- To be clear, the university and university buildings will remain open. Facilities such as the library, recreation centres, food services and health services will remain operational.
- Laurier’s residences will remain open to ensure the students who need housing have it. All students who have the option of going home are encouraged to do so.
- For all workplace-based experiential learning (co-op, community-service learning, practica, internship, workplace partnerships), the health and safety of our students is paramount. Students should consult with the relevant co-op, practicum, or field placement office responsible for organizing placements in their program to jointly determine the best path forward, in consultation with the community partner or employer. All decisions should be made with health and safety foremost in mind.
- The health and safety of our students on international exchange is of utmost importance. Current practice will continue, whereby students will receive personalized counsel and advice. Together, the student, Laurier International, and the host institution will review the situation and determine the best course of action to complete the term.
- In order to protect and support our community, Laurier is encouraging managers to assess and consider temporary flexible work arrangements for their team members, including working from home where it is operationally feasible. We are aware of the challenges some of you are facing due to the announced closure of publicly funded schools. Please speak with your supervisor if you need an accommodation.
- If you are ill, please stay home. Public health officials are also advising that anyone returning from international travel self-isolate for 14 days. More information about self-isolation can be found in Laurier’s coronavirus FAQs.
- All events that are not part of courses or academic requirements have been cancelled. This includes athletics and recreation. The cancellations are from noon March 13 to April 30.
- Social distancing is recommended in all interactions. Social distancing refers to measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the virus. By maintaining a distance of six feet from others when possible, people may limit the spread of the virus. More information about safe health practices can be found on in Laurier’s coronavirus FAQs.
- The university is working through contingency planning for final exams. More information will be shared in the coming days.
- International Travel: Effective immediately and until April 30th, all university-sanctioned international travel plans will be cancelled or postponed. This includes all travel outside of Canada, including exchanges, research activities, research placements, field courses, conference travel, university business travel, or any other travel that has been approved, authorized or supported by a Wilfrid Laurier University unit, department, staff or faculty member.
- At this time, we are not banning domestic travel, but instead recommend that university-sanctioned domestic travel plans be carefully assessed based on the importance of the travel, the size of the event, and any other COVID-19 related risk factors. It is strongly encouraged that discretionary travel plans between now and April 30 (e.g. conference attendance, workshop or professional development) be postponed or cancelled.
- Laurier has been urging Laurier students not to participate in the unsanctioned street gatherings associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Today, an additional message is being sent to students to say it would be irresponsible for them to attend such gatherings given the COVID-19 health crisis.
We know these decisions are difficult and disruptive. But we are dealing with an extraordinary global health crisis. Laurier’s Pandemic Response Group has worked tirelessly over the last two months to ensure systems are in place to allow our students to finish their year and to allow those in their final year to graduate. Executing those plans won’t be easy, but the Laurier community is known for their resilience. We will keep you updated through email, social media and Laurier’s COVID-19 information page.
To our students, I’m sorry that you’re going through this stressful and unsettling experience. Laurier’s services and programs will stay open to support you. Please continue to communicate with our staff and faculty about your challenges and needs. These are the most significant adjustments Laurier has had to make in its history and our response to this health crisis will continue to improve.
To Laurier staff and faculty members, the university is here to support you and your families. Thank you for your hard work and courage. Your dedication to our students today will serve as inspiration throughout their lives.
President and Vice-Chancellor