Following today’s message from President Meric Gertler, I’m writing with an update regarding the winter term at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The President’s letter indicated that some divisions will delay the start of the winter term to January 11, 2021. It also indicated that implications for graduate and professional faculties was forthcoming.
Over the last few days our academic leaders have carefully reviewed our programs and have determined that it will be necessary to maintain our original schedule to resume classes on Monday, January 4, 2021 to ensure that our students are able to complete their program requirements on time. This decision is consistent with those of other health science faculties across U of T.
Professional and graduate program requirements are complex and changing the winter term start dates may have negative effects on things such as experiential rotation requirements and availability, and on research project timelines. These could ultimately impact timely program completion and may impact student well-being.
Although we cannot delay our start dates, we do embrace the spirit of President Gertler’s decision and as such we will be making modifications to our program delivery to facilitate student transition into the winter term.
For example, we will ensure that all courses set to commence the week of January 4, 2021 will be offered asynchronously. This will give students flexibility to manage their schedules and will not require any student to participate in synchronous online courses until January 11, 2021. We hope this modification will give students additional flexibility in the days following the official university holiday closure.
Also, following the Faculty-wide Student Mental Health Town Hall on November 12, we are planning a number of mental health and well-being initiatives. Associate Dean, Academic, Jamie Kellar is developing a Wellness Campaign that will kick off in the coming weeks, which will reflect student suggestions, including Wellness Wednesdays, visual wellness resources, regular town halls, and more. I’d also like to remind students about the University’s mental health and well-being supports:
- St. George, Health and Wellness Centre
- My SSP (support available 24/7/365)
- Good2Talk Student Helpline
Earlier this fall, I shared that winter term programming will be predominantly online across all our Professional and Graduate Programs. We plan to continue some in-person lab-based research and hands-on practical activities, as public heath and university safety guidelines allow. Alternate arrangements will be available for those unable to attend in-person activities.
I also appreciate that many graduate students in the Pharmaceutical Sciences program will continue essential research both remotely and in the building (according to safety and distancing requirements) over the holiday break. I am grateful for the time and efforts invested by our PharmSci community to keep our research enterprise moving.
The winter term Reading Week will remain as scheduled for February 15-19, 2021.
Program-specific information is available on our Reopening: Plans and Procedures webpage, which is updated regularly. I encourage all students to stay informed about access and safety protocol, policies and procedures as the resumption of operations and activities at our building continue to evolve with public health and University guidelines.
Finally, I appreciate that the last eight months have been difficult for students. From adapting to online classes to completing alternative rotations, students have met a number of challenges presented by COVID-19. But the disruptions caused by the pandemic should not take away from the hard work and dedication that each of you have invested. Your efforts, resilience and dedication are evident and sincerely appreciated.
I invite all students to reach out to either myself or Jamie with questions, concerns or comments related to winter term plans, student mental health, or anything related to academic programming.
We are committed to doing everything that we can to support your wellness and academic success as we make our way together through this historic time.
Professor & Dean
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto