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March 13 COVID-19 Update: All face-to-face academic and research activities suspended

Dear members of the OCAD University community,

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff continues to be a top priority for us at OCAD University, especially in light of COVID-19. I recognize that this is a quickly evolving situation that has been unsettling and disconcerting for the members of our community. 

I want to reassure you that OCAD U has been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak very closely and we have been maintaining close communication with Public Health Ontario, Toronto Public Health, the Council of Ontario Universities and Universities Canada. 

At OCAD U, we made the difficult decision to cancel GradEx105 because of potential health and safety concerns posed by holding this large, public event that draws more than 40,000 people over five days.

I know how upsetting this decision was for many of our graduating students. This is an important culmination of their work and a wonderful showcase of enormous talent and innovation. That is why the University, in consultation with the community, is considering either a postponement or alternate forms of delivery for this year. We will be sharing a decision shortly.

In light of recent developments, and to take cautionary measures that will support the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, I want to share the following decisions made by OCAD U:

All face-to-face academic and research activities suspended until April 24, 2020
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all face-to-face classes as well as physical access to studios, laboratories and libraries is suspended until April 24, 2020.

However, we are currently working on alternate forms of delivery to enable the completion of the term and graduation, and ensure research can continue. These arrangements will be communicated shortly, and we will be providing resources and support for the delivery that will roll-out over the next week.

Provost and Vice-President, Academic Caroline Langill will be working with the Deans to provide alternate forms of assessment for studio-based completion. 

Course instructors are encouraged to provide, where possible, flexible options or alternatives for participation and the completion and assessment of projects and assignments (e.g., by assessing in-progress work and reflection), consider removing late penalties and allowing for more flexible windows of submission of work and prioritize students’ well-being.
 
From Friday, March 13 to Tuesday, March 17 (7 a.m. to midnight), and then on Wednesday, March 18 (7 a.m. to final closing at 5 p.m.), students will have the opportunity to remove their projects, work-in-progress and belongings from studios and lockers located at 100 McCaul St., 113 McCaul St. and 205 Richmond St. W. (First Level) buildings and the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion at 115 McCaul St. Security agents will facilitate staged access, if required.

The Fabrication Centre will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Friday, March 13 to Tuesday, March 17. However, on Wednesday, March 18, the Centre will be open from 7 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

I thank OCAD University’s Senate Executive Committee for its unanimous endorsement of this strategy.

Events
All events are cancelled as of Monday, March 16 until April 24, in addition to GradEx 105, which had been scheduled from April 29 to May 3. As noted above, we are considering either a postponement or alternate forms of delivery for this year.

Travel
We are asking all employees to refrain from all non-essential travel and to report to hr@ocadu.ca, as previously requested, if they have travelled, including personal travel and provide the location of travel.

OCAD U will close as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 until Friday, April 24
In light of the recent decision by the Government of Ontario to close all public schools and the potential risk to faculty and staff commuting to campus using public transport, we are closing the University as of 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 18 until Friday, April 24.

This means all buildings and administrative offices will be closed. However, we will maintain essential services, including Student Wellness Centre. Operations will continue through primarily work-at-home arrangements and we will notify these employees accordingly. Details will be forthcoming early next week. 

Faculty and staff have until 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 18 to remove materials and/or belongings from their offices or labs.

Reminder: Help prevent the spread of germs
We remind everyone that prevention is the key to stopping the spread of illness and one of the best ways is to wash your hands often with soap and water for a least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. 

Other measures include staying home if you are ill; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are ill; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands; if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Please visit the Toronto Public Health website for more information. 

Questions about the COVID-19?
We remind students, faculty and staff to visit our web page at OCADU.ca/coronavirus

These are difficult times for everyone, and I believe that in taking the steps outlined above we are making the right decision for our students, faculty and staff. 

I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing patience and understanding, and I would like to thank all the members of our community who are working tirelessly to coordinate our response and actions regarding COVID-19. 

We will continue to provide ongoing updates and more detailed information for our community over the days and weeks to come. 

Warm Regards, 

Dr. Sara Diamond
President and Vice-Chancellor, C.M., O.ON. R.C.A.