The University of Toronto continues to follow the directions of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Toronto and Peel Region Public Health Departments related to COVID-19. The latest advice continues to be updated in the FAQs for the U of T community on the University of Toronto website. As a result, some of the information in this email may become outdated over time. Planning for academic and business continuity in our Faculty is underway in the event that our local situation changes.
In February, the Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs reactivated the Academic Continuity Working Group. The information shared below includes information provided to our Faculty through this group.
The University’s Policy on Academic Continuity “recognizes that events such as pandemic health emergencies, natural disasters, prolonged service interruptions, and ongoing labour disputes are potential threats to academic continuity,” and states that “good stewardship requires that the University undertake appropriate planning and preparation to promote continuity.” The Academic Continuity Working Group is convened from time to time when planning and preparation are required beyond the University’s normal course resiliency best practices.
In Pharmacy, we are assessing the potential impact of a disruption and developing an academic resiliency plan that includes preparations for exams this term. Instructors of courses have primary responsibility and authority to make changes to their courses. As we continue to work to maintain our academic programs, faculty members’ academic freedom will be fully respected.
For those of you teaching courses at this time, we ask that you:
- Please review the enclosed slides and course resiliency best practices document and think about how you may adjust your course should we be in the position that the Faculty cannot proceed with classes and labs as usual.
- You may also find helpful information in the email with the subject heading: Lecture Capture Information, sent on Friday March 6, 2020.
- If you have questions or would like further guidance related to adjusting your course content or assessments that incorporate use of our education technologies, please reach out to Frank Fan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- If you have questions on modifying course evaluation methods (e.g. changing the format of an exam or assignment, changing the weight of an assignment as a component of a course grade), please contact Sandra (email@example.com).
Also, we are working to determine potential impact to undergraduate and graduate students on placements (incoming and outgoing learners) in hospitals or at our Faculty. Students on placements in hospitals, community or other clinical practice settings are expected to follow procedures put in place for learners at those sites.
Effective immediately the Faculty will be cancelling all incoming and outgoing international exchange rotations scheduled during the following blocks: Block 10 in 2019-20 and Blocks 1-3 in 2020-2021.
Travel advisories may be updated and so we ask that you refer to the FAQs for the U of T community before making travel plans.
Students (graduate or undergraduate) planning to travel for placements to any international placement site should cancel their trip. The Pharmacy Office of Experiential Education (OEE) and the Safety Abroad Office has reached out to and remains in contact with all students registered with these offices who are already in affected areas as the situation evolves.
Faculty and Staff travel
The University advises all members of the community to carefully consider any non-essential business and personal travel that is planned in the coming weeks. The situation is evolving rapidly in many parts of the world and travel restrictions may be imposed on short notice. Up-to-date COVID-19 related travel advisories can be found on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 travel advisory website.
Prior to planning any travel please check for updates from the University of Toronto benefits provider Green Shield Canada (GSC). GSC issued an update to all individuals (sent via email on March 10, 2020 by Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity) on travel implications and health-care coverage related to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
We note that many health-related placement sites, including our affiliated hospitals, are imposing more stringent travel advice for clinical and operational reasons. This will affect students on placements in hospitals (including graduate students) as well as faculty and staff who may be working in those settings.
The three federal granting agencies are aware that the rapidly changing situation involving COVID-19 may have an impact on researchers with plans to travel for meetings or other research-related activities. Individuals may decide to cancel trips as a result of various considerations and factors such as cancelled conferences, travel advisories (including those from Health Canada and Global Affairs Canada), or personal choice due to health or other concerns. The agencies confirm that the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from agency funds is acceptable considering the impacts of COVID-19. This applies to the travel of both principal investigators and research personnel, when cancellation occurs as described above.
Please note that given the uncertainty of the situation with COVID-19, the federal granting agencies suggest that those travelling for agency-funded research consider purchasing either cancellation insurance, or tickets that are at least partially refundable. In this specific situation, some additional cost could still be viewed as economical if it allows for partial or full reimbursement/credit in the event of cancellation.
Planning for business continuity is important to be able to continue our work in the case of any disruptive event. The administrative and academic leadership at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy is reviewing and further developing our Business Continuity Plan in collaboration with institutional offices to ensure the continuation of critical functions including finance, information technology, communications and facilities. In the coming days you will receive updates or requests to provide information. Your attention to these notifications or requests is greatly appreciated.
For general questions about the University’s response to the novel coronavirus, please visit the U of T website. For specific questions about your course(s), research enterprise or student placements, please do not hesitate to contact Lisa (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sandra (email@example.com) or Stephane (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There will be two open forums planned this week to help address any other questions you may have. For call in details, please refer to the email sent to all faculty and staff on Wednesday, March 11 at 10:11am.
Lisa Dolovich, Professor and Dean
Stephane Angers, Professor and Associate Dean Research
Sandra Bjelajac-Mejia, Assistant Professor and Interim Director, Professional Programs; Academic Lead, Education Office; Academic Lead, Office of Experiential Education