COVID-19 FAQ Academic Staff

updated June 3, 2021

Guidelines for Fall Planning

  • The deadline for Faculties and Schools to submit their teaching modalities was set as May 31, 2021, in order to provide information to students.
  • There is significant time pressure to have the schedule finalized and communicate to students about any changes to modalities in their courses for fall, so that students can make their plans for fall. This is particularly important for students who have travel arrangements and student visas to secure before the start of the Fall term.
  • Delaying posting the schedule has the potential to negatively impact student recruitment and retention as students are seeking to make decisions about their plans for fall right now.
  • We are working to make sure we can communicate to students as early as possible in June, so they can make informed decisions for Fall.
  • Based on current guidance from Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta, it is assumed that no physical distancing measures will be required in class or on campus by the start of Fall 2021. We will continue to follow all public health guidelines and adjust as needed.
  • There is no expectation that faculty members offer their course both in-person and online. Nor is there an expectation that courses will have to be taught in a blended modality.
  • Decisions on modality should be made based on offering the optimal learning experience for students and on our commitment to supporting students in their progression within their programs.
  • Certain programs may want to consider the needs of place-bound (e.g. international) students in their planning and offer flexible options.
  • Based on current AHS guidelines and modelling for COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates, it is anticipated that improving conditions will allow a safe return to campus in Fall 2021.
  • Further, a return to campus beginning in the fall is desirable. Not only are students keen to return to campus, many academic staff are looking forward to in-person teaching and a thriving, vibrant campus.
  • We acknowledge some may experience some hesitancy to return to campus. Our goal with a gradual return over the summer is to provide time to ease this transition.
  • In the event of a fourth COVID-19 wave, the university will adjust our plans, as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic. Any adjustments will be made according to the latest health guidelines.

Student Accommodations, Flexibility and Support

  • The Student Accommodation Policy and associated Procedure for Accommodation for Students with Disabilities will be followed in student medical accommodation requests concerning COVID-19.
  • We are adding a supplement to cover students requiring accommodations based on the protected ground of family status.
  • Any requests for accommodations related to academic courses based on other protected grounds would be directed to the person(s) in the faculties designated (per the policy) to deal with such requests. In some faculties, this is the instructor of record and, in others, an associate dean.
  • Requests for exceptions from in-person classes for any other reason would be considered on a case-by-case basis by the instructor. In some situations, it may be that the student be advised to take another course at this time.
  • There may be a number of options to support students who are unable to attend and, for some courses, it may be impossible to provide flexibility. We are encouraging students who have concerns to reach out academic advisors for their programs.
  • Students not able to return to campus are encouraged to work with their student advisor to discuss options.
  • The Student Accommodation Policy and associated Procedure for Accommodation for Students with Disabilities will be followed in situations where students require formal accommodation.
  • Adaptive course-design strategies may also be necessary to provide reasonable access to course materials and to support student learning. Instructors seeking additional learning and instructional design support to discuss adaptive course-design strategies are encouraged to connect with resources through the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, or to consult with learning and instructional designers.
  • Instructors seeking additional teaching support in order to manage the workload associated with anticipated Fall 2021 complexities can request additional GAT or sessional support.

Academic Staff Accommodations, Flexibility and Support

  • There may be cases where the course modality needs to shift from what was submitted in the Fall teaching plan. Academic staff should reach out to the leaders in their unit to discuss their teaching situation and options. There are a number of reasons why a request to teach fully online might be made. These would be approached in different ways depending on the reason. The examples below provide guidance on how requests could be navigated and who would approve requests.
  1. Reason to request teaching online: Pedagogical grounds

    Pedagogical grounds – the course is best offered online, and fits with program goals for student experience and student learning.

    Discussion, Recommendation, Decision:

    Initial discussion with academic leader who assigns teaching: Department Head, Program Director or Associate Dean.

    Final oversight/signoff with the Dean.

  2. Reason to request teaching online: Informal requests for flexibility*

    Logistical issues/personal circumstance (e.g., living arrangements).

    Discussion, Recommendation, Decision:

    Initial discussion with academic leader who assigns teaching: Department Head, Program Director or Associate Dean.

    Final oversight/signoff with the Dean; may involve Human Resources.

    *Requests for short-term flexibility may be addressed through Section 4.2 of the Workplace Accommodation Procedure, where appropriate.

  3. Reason to request teaching online: Formal Accommodation^

    Medical grounds, family status, other protected grounds.

    Discussion, Recommendation, Decision:

    Academic staff members submit accommodation requests to HR, Staff Wellness, Manager, Dean or equivalent; see Workplace Accommodation Roles and Responsibilities document for overview.

    ^Requests for formal accommodation are guided by the Workplace Accommodation Policy and Workplace Accommodation Procedure. Formal accommodations are based on the restrictions identified by a staff member.


Classroom Safety

  • The University of Calgary is committed to providing a safe work environment. The Facilities team has been paying close attention to heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) and how to ensure their optimal operation in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Health Canada and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have established air-quality parameters for indoor (non-industrial) environments, with specific statements on infectious aerosols. These standards are used as best practices throughout the industry. All UCalgary buildings have ventilation and air-circulation standards that currently meet or exceed these standards, including the use of MERV 13 air filters.
  • In addition to this, UCalgary maximized air circulation starting last summer based on ASHRAE infectious aerosol recommendations and continues to operate in this manner to ensure peak air quality is maintained throughout our buildings while maintaining thermal comfort.
  • The university is developing a comprehensive return to campus strategy that includes campus safety plans and return to work plans for all staff based on a scenario where physical distancing is not required.
  • The University of Calgary supports vaccination and is focused on removing barriers to individuals to access vaccines.
  • We are working with Alberta Health Services to open a vaccine clinic on campus and we will make an announcement soon.
  • We are following provincial legislation ensuring all employees have up to 3 hours off during their workday to be able to attend a vaccine appointment. We are also encouraging managers to be supportive if employees need to take their children to vaccine appointments as well.
  • We are offering medical information around vaccines to address vaccine hesitancy within our campus community.
  • In Alberta, it is not possible to require vaccines or insist on knowing vaccine status of individuals. However, we emphatically support the value of vaccines and the importance of vaccination.

Teaching Support

  • Learning Technology Coaches can provide support for recording and editing lectures: https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/learning-technology-coaches.
  • Additional support may be available through graduate student GAT/GANT positions in your academic units.
  • Instructors wishing to reuse material recorded in a previous semester are reminded of the need to anonymize recorded material to ensure student privacy. Support is available to assist with editing or training in the use of editing software with the Learning Technology Coaches, or through requesting GANT funding to hire graduate students to support course preparation.
  • Approximately 48 of the 160 classrooms scheduled by the Registrar’s Office are currently outfitted with web cameras and microphones that could support in-person lesson capture. Check with your faculty/school office for information on the technology available in teaching spaces overseen by your unit.
  • Section G in the 2021-2022 Calendar contains the current regulations that guide the scheduling of timed online assessments.
  • The university will not have an online proctoring platform available for tests, timed assessments or exams for the Fall 2021 term.
  • There are many issues to consider when implementing an online proctoring system including: privacy and security of students and staff; resources to support the implementation, training and use of a proctoring system; setup and alignment of the system; setup and use with university policies, practices and procedures for academic integrity and academic misconduct; and ensuring students and staff are aware of the technology needed to run proctoring software.
  • We want to ensure time for consultation with students and staff and make sure we have a system that will support academic integrity and academic success. Given these considerations, we will not have time to implement a system for the Fall 2021 term.

Any additional questions about teaching and learning? Contact us