Message from the President: In-person teaching and learning to resume February 28
The following message was distributed on February 16, 2022, to faculty, staff, and students via their @upei.ca email on behalf of the Office of the President.
Dear Members of the UPEI Community,
The PEI Chief Public Health Office (PEI CPHO)’s recent launch of its Moving On—Transition Plan to Living with COVID-19 has given all of us a sense of cautious optimism as we transition from a public health state of emergency to a time where we learn to live with COVID-19.
In addition to this step-by-step plan to ease public health measures, the PEI CPHO revised its specific guidance for the post-secondary education sector late last week. Based on this update, the UPEI Senate held a special meeting yesterday to finalize the mode of delivery for the remainder of the semester.
It was decided, in accordance with the updated winter 2022 Public Health Measures for PEI Post-Secondary Education, that in-person teaching and learning for the 2022 Winter Academic Semester will resume for classes of 100 students or less on February 28, 2022.
In keeping with a student-focused teaching model, and in line with dynamic PEI CPHO guidance, there may be exceptions including:
- Extensions to online teaching for individual courses beyond February 27, based on medical accommodation or pedagogical principles.
Extensions must be requested by instructors through their chairs, associate deans, and/or deans to the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Research for approval prior to February 17, 2022. Exceptions will be communicated to students by their faculties. If you are unsure whether this applies to you, please contact the Dean’s Office in your faculty.
We realize some students may have a mix of in-person and online courses. If students are looking for spaces on campus where they can participate in online classes, the Registrar's Office has provided a listing of rooms that are available during the 2022 Winter Academic Semester. Also, while all campus buildings have wireless connections to the internet, the Atlantic Veterinary College, Robertson Library, and W.A. Murphy Student Centre are on the new network and performance in these buildings is considerably better than in the other parts of campus. There are areas in each of these three buildings where students can congregate as well as work independently and are good options for students needing internet between in-person classes.
In the coming days, we will update our operational plan and information on UPEI’s COVID-19 Information web pages with the latest in PEI CPHO guidance as we plan to return to campus. However, here are a few key takeaways from the PEI CPHO update for post-secondary education:
- Physical Distancing: Unless permitted under the public health order, students, faculty, and staff are required to maintain physical distancing of two metres or more in all settings, except in learning settings as follows:
- up to a maximum of 100 students while seated and masked during classroom learning, or
- for certain practical/hands-on learning, or
- on-the-job training.
Physical distancing should be maximized in learning settings.
- Screening and Testing: Students, faculty, and staff should stay home and seek testing if feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, however mild. Testing may be accessed at a drop-in testing clinic and individuals should self-isolate until the results are back. Test results (positive and negative) are accessible online with most results appearing 4–12 hours from the point of testing: www.princeedwardisland.ca/testresults
- Steps for individuals who test positive are outlined here: www.princeedwardisland.ca/testedpositive
- Steps for individuals identified as close contacts are here: www.princeedwardisland.ca/closecontact
- Vaccination: Students, faculty, and staff are recommended to be vaccinated with a complete series of Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines including booster doses. (The UPEI Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy remains in place for members of the University community. The regular COVID-19 vaccine booster clinics at the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre will end on February 24, 2022. The Centre will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines after that date; however, you will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.)
- Masking: Students, faculty, and staff are required to wear masks in all indoor public places including classrooms and lab settings, as well as workplaces. Details on wearing masks can be found here: www.princeedwardisland.ca/masks The removal of masks for active eating and drinking should be minimized. (Please refer to the UPEI Student Classroom Protocol for more information.)
- Personal Hygiene: Signage for handwashing and respiratory etiquette (sneezing and coughing) will be clearly posted throughout facilities. Handwashing supplies and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be readily available in learning settings.
- Cleaning and Disinfection: Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces will be maintained.
While I continue to be impressed at how resilient students, faculty, and staff have been throughout the pandemic, I also realize that with change—even positive change—comes stress. UPEI has a number of resources for students through UPEI Student Affairs, including personal counselling (email@example.com), and the International Student Office (firstname.lastname@example.org). The UPEI Pandemic Survival Tips and Resources info graphic has also been developed to support community members. Eligible UPEI faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765 for support. Additional information is available on UPEI's COVID-19 information web pages and on myUPEI.
We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation in consultation with the PEI Chief Public Health Office as, despite our “moving on”, COVID-19 remains a dynamic situation around the world. Please continue to watch your upei.ca email for any further updates or visit www.upei.ca/covid-19-information
Thank you to everyone for going over and above to support each other and for keeping one another safe.
GREG KEEFE, DVM, MSc, MBA (he/him)
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)
University of Prince Edward Island