Further to the recent message from the President regarding York’s phased return to in-person learning set to begin January 31, I am following up to share more details and remind you of supports available to instructors who will be making this transition.
The pandemic has made clear the tremendous value of in-person learning. Some students who were admitted in 2020 or 2021 have yet to experience a class on campus, and many others are anxious to complete experiential components and courses required for graduation. I recognize this adjustment comes with both excitement and some anxiety, and I want to thank all faculty and instructors sincerely for your efforts in support of our students’ education.
The University has implemented a range of measures to keep all community members as healthy and safe as possible. York’s Vaccination Mandate policy is in full effect and I am pleased to share that 99.5% of students enrolled in in-person courses in the Winter Term are fully or partially vaccinated. All partially vaccinated students have been told that they cannot access campus until they are fully vaccinated and that they risk de-enrolment should they not come into compliance by midnight on February 6. In addition to our implementation of a vaccine mandate, we have taken a multi-layered approach to health and safety, including a mandatory mask protocol, improved ventilation across our campuses, enhanced cleaning protocols in high-touch point areas, case and contact management support for all community members, and required daily screening.
With the transition to more in-person activities in our daily lives, and the need for vigilance with one another’s health and safety, instructors should expect some variability in students’ attendance. COVID-related absences may arise as individual students themselves may be unwell or may need to provide care for others in their homes who are unwell.
Even in the event you experience a higher than typical number of student absences, in-person learning should continue for those who are able to attend. Students have selected their courses on the basis that classes will be meeting in person.
As always, instructors have discretion to make minor changes to a course outline to accommodate time constraints in covering material, or to schedule make up classes as needed. Similarly, most instructors have the flexibility to convert in-person exams or other assessments to online versions, provided the grading scheme in the course is not altered (excluding Osgoode Hall Law School courses).
Our normal policies apply with respect to student requests for deferrals or assistance in learning material covered while they were absent. As I wrote to you in December, no instructor is obligated to create a remote version of their in-person course for students who cannot, or choose not to, attend in person. However, I encourage you where feasible to use eClass to post class materials, lecture notes, and audio or video recordings of lectures. eClass will be a useful resource in contingency planning and may help to reduce student anxiety about missing an in-person class. Instructors who need technical support with eClass, or assistance to record their lectures, should reach out to: Learning Technology Services.
Health Protocols and Learning Spaces
Please review the protocols in place prior to January 31, including: the University’s Vaccination Mandate policy and mask requirements, and become familiar with the daily self-assessment through the YU Screen. This information is also gathered here: Return to In-person Teaching and Learning: Resources for Instructors.
If someone has both complied with the University’s Vaccination Mandate and has successfully completed daily screening to attend campus that day, the YUScreen tool will display a green check mark. As of Winter 2022, all community members are being advised to be prepared to show their clearance screen while on campuses and upon request. An instructor may ask everyone entering the classroom to display their green check mark (electronic or paper). If an instructor chooses to ask students to display their green check mark, it must be universally applied, and the instructor must also display their own green check mark.
Masks are a very important safety layer, and they are required on our campuses. The University will make a variety of masks, including N95s, available for purchase on campus at subsidized cost. The best mask is the one that fits well. Please always keep your mask on when around anyone who is not a member of your household. There are lapel mics available in your classroom to assist with audibility. In order to support consistent compliance with the mask protocol, eating and drinking is not permitted in learning spaces (with the exception of urgent health needs). If a student is not compliant with York’s mask protocol or other COVID-19 safety protocols, please refer to the additional tools and resources here.
Student Accessibility Services will advise employees of those students who have been granted an exemption on disability related grounds from wearing a mask in class. Students with this exemption are encouraged to be registered with Student Accessibility Services where they would be provided with a Letter of Accommodation which details that they are mask exempt. Further, the University has written guidelines to support employees that will address challenging circumstances, including non-compliant students in classrooms who do not have an exemption.
Case and Contact Management (CCM)
All community members attending campus must complete daily screening prior to coming to campus. Please remind students that if they feel unwell, they must not come to campus.
If anyone does not pass screening, they must stay home and a member of the University’s CCM team will be in touch to provide follow-up support and instructions regarding next steps. If someone begins to feel unwell while on campus, they are asked to immediately leave campus, self-isolate and re-submit screening upon feeling unwell. Upon any failed screening in YU Screen, individuals are asked if they had a footprint on campus in the last 14 days. This allows us to capture footprint during the point of communicability and for CCM teams to action appropriately.
York’s case contact management team will be in touch with students who do not pass screening to determine if there is any risk to others on campus. All contacts, including instructors, will be notified as quickly as possible of a possible exposure. The University will carry out CCM for every member of the community with a footprint on campus.
Students, staff, instructors, and faculty are asked to instruct all disclosures (self-disclosed and/or others) to complete YU Screen for CCM follow-up and to receive clearance from the University prior to being permitted to return to campus.
If a child, other dependents in your household, or you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay at home, self-monitor, and take care of yourself and your dependents. Please have a contingency plan to alert students via email, e-Class, and during class about your illness contingency plan and report your symptoms to York’s CCM team.
Students should be prepared for the possibility of an occasional class delivered remotely if an instructor fails daily screening and cannot attend campus but is able to teach remotely. That instructor may be the course director or a teaching assistant (if applicable).
Students should be reminded to check their emails regularly in the event the delivery format changes or if an instructor must cancel class. As always, inform your Department in the event of a class cancellation.
Some units are adopting “buddy” systems in which colleagues agree to serve as back up for each other where possible in the event of absences. I urge instructors to consider whether pairing up with a colleague to act as each other’s primary back up is possible. This would provide you with additional support and ensure course continuity for students. Please speak to your Dean’s office or Chair/Director for assistance in managing requests to teach as a substitute.
As always, for longer term absences, please contact EWB.
Additional information and support for instructors:
- Learning Technology Services can help with classroom technology use, eClass uploads and more
- One on one teaching assistance is available through the Teaching Commons
- York offers lecture recording resources to faculty and instructors. Booking request forms can be found here: Lecture Recording @ York
- More information about mental health and wellness resources, please visit Well-Being
- Accommodation Guidelines
- Conflict Resolution manual
- Return to Classroom Resources for Instructors
Provost & Vice-President Academic