Message from the President: Update on COVID-19 measures
This message was distributed to UPEI students, faculty, and staff on March 17, 2020 via their @upei.ca emails. While we will continue to update our COVID-19 website, the latest news will be shared with the UPEI community by email and notifications will be sent by UPEI SAFE, the University’s safety app (available on The App Store and Google Play).
These are such uncertain times, and I am so proud of how our entire University community is responding in the face of adversity. We continue to make our decisions in response to the COVID-19 crisis based on the advice of our PEI Chief Public Health Office and Government of Canada Public Health Agency.
As this situation is evolving quickly, I am meeting every day and several times a day with my senior executive team—the Vice-President Academic and Research, Vice-President Administration and Finance, Chief Information Officer, and Associate Vice-President Students and Registrar. We are also in conversation with the union leaders of our various bargaining units and the UPEI Student Union as we proactively prepare for the days and weeks ahead. The safety and security of our students and employees is our top priority so all of our discussions are student- and employee-centric.
As expected, with the changes that are happening rapidly in our country and around the world, we have been constantly reviewing what essential services looks like for our University in terms of what functions can be performed from home. Therefore, UPEI is taking additional measures to ensure the safety of our University community.
Effective immediately, only essential services at the University will be provided, with only limited employees remaining on campus.
The UPEI Health and Wellness Centre; Accessibility Services and Counselling Services at UPEI Student Affairs; the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Diagnostic Services, Animal Resources, and Central Services at the Atlantic Veterinary College; UPEI Security Services; UPEI Chaplaincy Centre; and the UPEI Residences will remain open.
I have spoken with UPEI Student Union President Emma Drake who advised me that the W.A. Murphy Student Centre will remain open as an essential service for students, where they can continue to access and utilize the Student Union Foodbank.
While we had made an earlier decision to leave the Library open, we will now be closing the Robertson Library, effective 4:30 pm on March 17, 2020. We ask our students and instructors to continue to use the Library’s extensive online services that are available to them. I have also instructed our Vice-President Academic and Research to work with the deans, librarians, and chairs of our academic departments to ensure that the students will not be disadvantaged by this closure. More flexibility will be given to our students to find the best means to finish their course work and research.
As we continue to focus on our students and their well-being, we recognize that many have already left residence to go home to their families. However, there are a number who are unable to leave the residences for various reasons. I want to assure them that UPEI will ensure that residence and food services will continue although the University is operating with a minimum workforce.
I would like to applaud all of the efforts that have been made and continue to be made by our faculty and staff, both working on campus and remotely from home. I have asked the Vice-President Administration and Finance and the Vice-President Academic and Research to operate with the understanding that most of our employees should work from home unless they are considered an essential service. This was not an easy decision to make as some of our colleagues who are considered essential will carry the burden of being on campus; we will also extend flexibility and understanding for those individuals.
I commend our senior administrative team in taking the time to address all of these issues that are facing us. I know very well that they care about the University community, and I ask you to continue to support them as they continue to make difficult decisions.
Our union leaders must also be congratulated for their collaborative efforts. They continue to work with us to ensure that the University can provide services until this difficult time has passed.
I also thank Premier King and the government for continuing their open dialogue with the University, and for their ongoing support of post-secondary education.
As I wrote yesterday, these are difficult times in our world, and there is a tremendous sense of worry in our community. Please take care of one another and reach out to the supports that are available to you. UPEI has a number of supports for students through UPEI Student Affairs, including personal counselling (902-566-0488, firstname.lastname@example.org) and the International Student Office (902-566-0576, email@example.com). UPEI faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765. We encourage you to reach out if you have concerns.
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Prince Edward Island