Message from David Stewart, Faculty Association President sent to members of the Faculty Association on August 17, 2021.
Early this morning we learned that the Universities of Calgary, Alberta and Lethbridge were planning to jointly release a plan with additional safety measures for the fall return to campus. That plan has been released and was distributed to the university community just after 10 AM this morning. I welcome these additional measures which seem largely consistent with the concerns I communicated to you yesterday. I look forward to reviewing the details that will be necessary for these plans to be implemented and I will not be commenting further until we have had the opportunity to discuss these matters with the University Administration and the leadership of other campus unions.
I appreciate the efforts that many of you have made to persuade the administration to introduce additional protective measures. Many in the university community, including many of you, signed an open letter calling on the University of Calgary to implement additional measures. This kind of initiative is critical in ensuring that the administration understands the concerns of academic staff and indeed the university community more broadly. When I last checked this morning more than 1500 people including over 700 students and almost 400 members of academic staff had signed this open letter which is now closed. I believe that the steps taken today are positive and I will continue to do my best to ensure that the administration hears our views and concerns moving forward.
David K Stewart
President of The University of Calgary Faculty Association and Professor of Political Science
Message from Ed McCauley, President of the University of Calgary to the University Community on August 17, 2021.
University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge to include rapid testing or vaccination, and masks as part of back-to-school plans
Alberta’s three research-intensive universities have established new protocols as part of a joint back to campus strategy for this fall.
Operating with the shared goal of offering a safe teaching, learning, living, working, and research environment, our universities are committed to welcoming back to campus as many students, faculty, and staff as possible. To maximize safety for in-person teaching and learning, new policies are being implemented across all three institutions for this September.
The University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge are taking evidence-based approaches that are best suited to the campus context to protect the health and safety of our communities.
As always, we recognize that we remain in a rapidly changing environment. We will continue to monitor developments and adjust and modify these measures as necessary, with these policies being formally reviewed at the end of the term.
Rapid testing and vaccination
Starting September 1, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge will require all those coming to campus to undergo regular rapid testing. Those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are exempt from this requirement.
Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated, and those who would prefer not to disclose their vaccine status, will need to regularly complete a rapid screening test and receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities.
Any individual who cannot be tested or vaccinated based on medical or other protected grounds recognized by the Alberta Human Rights Act can request an accommodation.
The research is clear. Vaccinations are highly effective against all known variants, especially for preventing severe disease. Vaccine clinics are being planned for campuses. Everyone is urged to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible if they want to be able to attend campus without having to complete ongoing rapid testing throughout the term.
Vaccines are the best way to protect us all.
Face masks on campus
To promote a healthy and safe learning, working, and living environment, non-medical face masks must now be worn in all public indoor areas on University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge campuses where physical distancing is not possible.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) both formally recommend mask use indoors. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also recommends mask usage to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Masks are not necessary to be worn on campus under the following circumstances:
- Working alone in private offices
- Working outdoors and there is a minimum of 2 metres between people
- Meeting indoors and there is a minimum of 2 metres between people
- Working alone in a shared space
- Working in a cubicle with plexiglass, wall, or other approved barrier between people and when not providing services to anyone
- In a classroom where there is a minimum of 2 metres between instructor or among students
Staying home when sick
The University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge will continue to require those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test to self-isolate. Under provincial guidelines, anyone who has any of the following COVID-19 symptoms is required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Sore throat (adults only)
- Runny nose (adults only)
Staying home and taking care of yourself when sick is important for your health and reduces exposure to others.
Safe return to campus
The above measures are part of a coordinated approach among the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge and reflect each institution’s accountability to ensure a safe return for students, faculty, and staff this fall. Each university will release additional details on how these measures will be delivered on their campuses in the coming days. These measures build upon measures already announced.
These have been extraordinary times as we have wrestled with the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. That’s why we have come together to create a common strategy across our institutions that ensures health and wellbeing. This pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of working together to keep everyone safe.
The situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve. Leadership teams within all three universities are working closely with the Government of Alberta to provide rapid tests, vaccination clinics and vaccine incentives. We are committed to working together on evidence-driven measures to protect our campus communities.
“These expanded measures are a direct response to shifting COVID-19 conditions. Our health, law and public policy experts have been tracking the rise of cases and emergence of the Delta variant, providing us with data-driven approaches. By working together with Alberta’s other research-intensive universities, we will continue to monitor and take the measures necessary to keep our community safe.”
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Calgary
Message from David Stewart, Faculty Association President sent to members of the Faculty Association on August 16, 2021.
Last week in an effort to protect those who are teaching in the fall (and indeed the entire University community) as fully as possible under the situation in which we find ourselves, I was pleased that the Provost and I were able to agree that those who wished to change their modality of teaching due to COVID related concerns would be able to do so. I fully recognize that this is only a partial solution and that any decision to switch modality is difficult and many of you would like a solution that would make the return to campus and teaching in person in the fall safer. I can say that I was disappointed in the limited nature of the additional measures announced by the administration on Tuesday and have made clear in our ongoing discussions that more action is needed. I appreciate that the Provost has been willing to hear and discuss potential additional measures.
Unfortunately, as of 3 PM on August 16, no additional measures have been announced. I am therefore now publicly calling for a mandatory vaccination policy, mandatory masking, an expansion of on campus testing, contact tracing and an unequivocal requirement that those who test positive for COVID must isolate.
I appreciate the efforts made by many of you in advocating for these and other measures over the past two weeks.
David K Stewart
President of The University of Calgary Faculty Association and Professor of Political Science
Joint message from Teri Balser, University of Calgary Provost and Vice-President (Academic), and David Stewart, Faculty Association President, sent to members of the Faculty Association on August 10, 2021.
In the past week, conversations between the University of Calgary administration and TUCFA have taken place to review fall plans and determine what additional measures may be needed to respond to how the COIVD-19 situation has changed over the summer.
TUCFA and the University administration agree that Academic staff members with personal concerns related to COVID-19 should have the option to reconsider the modality of delivery for their courses. Those desiring a different arrangement can choose to do so. In addition, those planning to teach in-person classes can also access additional support should they desire it.
Most students have already registered in courses for the fall term and have made travel plans and living arrangement based on the teaching modality and we do expect most of the UCalgary community will be back on our campuses again this fall. Nevertheless, as the situation around COVID-19 evolves, it is understandable that instructor concerns around teaching in person might evolve as well.
Based on personal concerns related to COVID-19, academic staff members who are scheduled to teach courses in person for the Fall 2021 term may switch their course to online or blended delivery by working with their academic leader who assigns their teaching (Dean, Associate Dean, Department Head or equivalent) no later than August 20
, 2021. The academic staff member will inform the academic leader of their decision and outline the COVID-19 related reason for this change in modality, and they will work cooperatively to resolve any issues that may arise as a result of the change in modality. Please note that once an academic staff member chooses to teach a course remotely, no further changes to the mode of course deliver (ie. Back to in-person teaching) will be permitted for the duration of the fall term.
ADDITIONAL TEACHING SUPPORTS
For academic staff members delivering in-person classes, additional Graduate Assistants (Teaching) will be made available to help manage any additional workload associated with teaching this fall term. Further information on how to access additional GAT funds will be sent through your Faculty/School Deans Office in the coming days.
Both the Faculty Association and the University of Calgary encourage you to get vaccinated and wear masks when indoors on campus.
The health and safety of our university community remain our top priorities. We will continue our discussions relating to the delivery of in-person classes. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to your academic leader or the Faculty Association.
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)
President, University of Calgary Faculty Association