Dear members of the McGill community,
It was encouraging to see the high level of engagement at last week’s faculty and staff Town Hall, where we discussed the planning for safely resuming on-campus activity this fall. With more than half of our student community expected to be in the Montreal area, interpersonal interaction will play an important part in re-establishing a vibrant campus experience. If you missed the live session, I invite you to watch the online recording of the complete session. There were many excellent questions asked, and I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the recurring points.
In previous messages, I have shared with you the University’s plans for Phase 5, which involves taking significant steps toward safely increasing the resumption of activities across its campuses. Through a combination of careful and controlled institutional measures and individual efforts to protect against the spread of COVID-19, employees will gradually return to campus or, as individual unit needs allow, alternate between working on-campus and working from home. A return to full occupancy will not be possible in the foreseeable future. In order to maintain proper physical distancing, capacity levels will be determined on a building-by-building basis.
A toolkit is available to help faculties and administrative units plan how to ramp-up their on-campus activities. The toolkit includes checklists, signage templates and cleaning protocols for shared spaces. Additionally, Human Resources has prepared a quick reference guide to help employees prepare to resume working on campus.
The University appreciates the many demands that the pandemic has put on employees and their families, and continues to pay close attention to the evolving public health situation at large, including grade school reopenings. Needs may vary from unit to unit, but working from home will remain a core part of our strategy for maintaining a safe, manageable presence on campus. For more information, please see the HR FAQ page.
We have heard from many people who are eager to return to work, but have concerns about getting to campus. On-campus parking remains free until August 31. The parking situation is currently being re-evaluated, to account for having a larger on-campus presence this fall. I would also like to remind everyone that face coverings are now mandatory on public transit, as well as on university campuses and other indoor public spaces.
Planning for an increased presence, but not a full presence, in workplaces should naturally allow for the required two-metre physical distancing between co-workers. The toolkit for resuming activities includes tips for how to change your workspaces and workflows to respect distancing requirements. In some cases, additional physical barriers may be required. In rare cases where employees cannot avoid working in close proximity to each other for extended periods, the University will provide the necessary PPE (personal protection equipment).
For workplaces located at other institutions, such as the Glen hospital site, the University must follow the directives of those institutions. In the case of rental locations, we are currently in discussions with the landlords to ensure that McGill employees have a clear understanding of what to expect on-site during the return-to-work transition.
Although our ongoing, multi-phase research ramp-up has largely focused on wet and dry labs, of course research takes many forms—including professors using reference materials in their offices. Phase 5 accounts for research of all types. As per the Principles and Procedures for Research on Campus, researchers wishing to resume on-campus research can submit a proposal to their Dean.
Before coming to campus, faculty, staff and students must continue to fill out a daily online self-assessment form on Minerva. Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms are asked to stay home and phone 1-877-644-4545. The Guide for Supervisors includes detailed protocols for what to do if an employee reports symptoms from home, or develops symptoms while on campus.
From the very outset of the pandemic, McGill has taken steps to reduce the amount of recirculated air in our buildings. The University’s HVAC systems are set to maximize outdoor air intake, using up to 100 per cent fresh air where possible. Labs, particularly wet labs, are already equipped with systems to contain airborne contaminants.
As the Fall semester nears, we know many international students are wondering if, and when, they can enter Canada. There are currently two distinct travel restrictions in effect that may make it difficult to enter Canada from the U.S. and other countries. These restrictions apply to both newly admitted students and returning students. The International Student Services website is an excellent resource for entry requirements, quarantine directives, government resources, and other information relating to international student travel.
Last week’s Town Hall was the first in a series of conversations for our community. Dates and other details for other Town Halls, including one for students, will be shared with you when known.
On a final note, as is tradition, August 1 was the start-date for many new research and teaching staff—welcome to the new members of the McGill community! To support the onboarding process, the Human Resources Shared Services Unit has announced that it is again able to issue McGill ID cards for new hires. (Employees who are required to be on campus can replace lost or stolen cards as well.) Details about how to request an ID card are online.
I hope you are keeping healthy and enjoying the summer. Thank you for reading.
Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), on behalf of the Emergency Operations Centre