May 6, 2021

Impact of new government COVID-19 restrictions on campus

Message from Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Teri Balser
University of Calgary campus

On May 4, 2021, the Government of Alberta enacted a series of new mandatory COVID-19 restrictions in an effort to stop the spike of COVID-19 cases. This included moving all post-secondary institutions to online learning for at least the next three weeks.

The University of Calgary is working with the Ministry of Advanced Education to better understand the impact of these decisions. The situation is rapidly evolving, but here is what we can tell you about how the latest guidelines could impact your studies or your work. For the latest updates, you can also visit www.ucalgary.ca/covid-19.

Work from home

Anyone who can work from home must do so immediately. With the increasing spread of COVID-19 throughout our community, UCalgary must ensure the smallest number of people on our campuses possible.

Under the latest government regulations, workplaces with COVID-19 outbreaks will be mandated to close for 10 days. We need all of your help to keep our community safe and ensure we do not risk a complete shutdown of our facilities.

While these restrictions remain in place, all UCalgary employees must work from home
 — except under the following conditions:

  • Access is required to use tools and equipment for non-teaching roles
    Some positions, such as those involved in ongoing research, have unique requirements for ongoing access to tools and equipment, and greater reliance on the physical campus setting. This is distinct from where materials or equipment are needed from time to time, such as accessing paper files. Only positions that have an ongoing reliance on equipment that cannot be removed from the campus in order to be productive are permitted to continue to work on campus.
  • Work involves secure data and confidential information
    Work that involves access to and handling of confidential, classified or sensitive information and data in some cases is best performed on campus, particularly if this information is not in electronic form.
  • On-site preparation and attendance are required to deliver critical services to the campus community

In all cases where work is being performed on campus, an approved workplace safety plan must be in place, must be acknowledged by all those included in the plan, and all must comply with the safety measures listed in those plans.

For those staff who are not included in the above three conditions, and are not providing essential services, managers are asked to ensure that between now and May 26, all options are explored for employees to work productively from home. For those who are unable to work remotely from home, managers are asked to work with employees to undertake alternate work plans or use vacation, PLD, CTO or other leaves.

Spring classes moved online

All spring classes have been moved online for the next three weeks. This suspension of all in-person classes has been mandated by the province. Students enrolled in an in-person class for the spring/summer semester will be contacted by their instructor with alternate plans for the duration of this move to remote learning. Further activities, including onboarding for new summer students and training for new summer researchers, have also been temporarily halted. Previously scheduled in-person exams have also been moved online. If you have a class that had been set to take place on campus, please stay home until you receive an update on next steps.

Masks and physical distancing remain mandatory

If, under very limited circumstances, you are on campus, mask-wearing and two metres of physical distancing must be maintained. It is especially important to avoid hallway conversations or accidental social gatherings, which have been prohibited indoors and are now restricted to only five people when outdoors.

Look out for each other

Provincial public health actions will change our lives in many other ways, too. For those with young children, or elderly loved ones, the latest decisions could involve sudden and increased responsibilities at home. For those living alone, they represent increased isolation. Please be flexible and understanding with your colleagues and fellow students. Over the past year, you have demonstrated your compassion, support and kindness.

If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out for help. We have access to a host of mental health supports that are available remotely for those in our university community who need it. For 24/7 mental health support, call Distress Centre at 403-266-4357 or Wood’s Homes Community Support team at 403-299-9699. Faculty and staff can also contact Homewood Health for 24/7 mental health support by calling 1-800-663-1142.

It’s all about taking things one day at a time, reaching out to others and practising compassion towards our colleagues and ourselves.

Thank you!

Teri Balser, PhD
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)