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March 16: COVID-19 Update from President Diamond

To all the members of the OCAD University community:

 

As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves quickly, OCAD University is monitoring this unprecedented situation as we continue efforts to prepare for the full closure of our campus this week. As new information becomes available, we are making the necessary adjustments regarding our course of action.

 

I am very impressed by our institution’s ability to mobilize quickly. This reflects our high level of preparedness in responding to this crisis, and our ongoing commitment to ensuring the health and safety of the members of our community.

 

In today’s message, I provide an update followed by a summary of the University’s response.

 

Continuity of pay for OCAD U employees

Now more than ever, I believe it’s important to support our employees during this extraordinary situation that will see our campus close for six weeks. OCAD University’s Vision, Mission and Strategic Direction stress the importance of OCAD U as a great place to work. We want to provide our faculty and staff with a level of stability and peace of mind as we face COVID-19 together. We are committed to taking the right action for our employees. 

 

That is why we have made the decision to continue to pay the salary and benefits of all OCAD U employees with an active contract and/or scheduled to work during the closure period (March 19 to April 24), regardless of whether they are able to work from home.

 

The Human Resources Department will share more details with employees, including regular and casual staff, which will answer many of your questions.

 

This guarantee of salary is above and beyond the provisions in OCAD U’s pandemic absence policies, which were activated on March 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic.

Under these policies, Pandemic Absence for Faculty and Pandemic Absence Policy for Non-Teaching Employees, the requirement for medical documentation confirming an absence is now waived. Employees are asked to follow the direction of Toronto Public Health and ensure preventive measures are exercised.

 

Restricted access to university facilities during the closure

As of 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, all university facilities will be closed and not accessible, with working from home protocols in place for employees during the closure period.

 

However, there will be restricted access to 230 Richmond St. W. to deliver critical services that can only be undertaken at 230 Richmond St. W. by designated employees and only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 (noon) to 4 p.m. Please contact Louis Toromoreno, Director of Safety and Security (ltoromoreno@ocadu.ca) for more information.

 

(Updated as of March 18, 8:30 a.m.): The Student Wellness Centre will be open during the closure (March 19 to April 24), to provide the following virtual services: counselling, student accessibility, peer supports and survivor support. Physician services will be provided virtually Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Limited-in person appointments by our physician will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.  

Equipment and book loans

Effective Tuesday, March 17, no AV equipment (including laptops, cameras) will be available for loan. Equipment can be returned when the University reopens on Monday, April 27. Please note: The University will be waiving all late fees for equipment and library books during the period of the closure.

 

I remind our faculty, staff and students that this week, from March 16 to 20, we are taking a pause in the delivery of curriculum. This means no classes are being held, either face-to-face or online in real-time at the regularly scheduled class time.

 

Faculty members are now developing alternate means of delivering course content, communicating with students and assessing work that will enable students to complete the term. Students should hear from their instructors by Friday, March 20.

 

Once again, I want to thank our faculty and staff members who are working diligently and collaboratively across the institution as we move towards the closure of our physical campus and transition to forms of online delivery and services. I thank our students for their ongoing understanding and patience as we respond to this very challenging situation.

 

COVID-19: Self-assessment and prevention

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, the Government of Ontario is recommending you conduct a self-assessment to determine if you need further care. You can find more information here.

 

We remind everyone that prevention is key in 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.

Stay Connected

We will share regular updates by email, so please check your email regularly. We will continue to post announcements on the employee and student portals, social media channels and the OCADU.ca/coronavirus web page.

Questions?

We have posted frequently asked questions on the OCAD University website at OCADU.ca/coronavirus and these will be updated regularly.

 

For questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, please email Kaye Ferrer, the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Advisor, who has been designated as the primary contact. She can be reached at kferrer@ocadu.ca.

 

Warm Regards,

 

Dr. Sara Diamond, C.M., O.ONT., R.C.A. ​

 

President and Vice-Chancellor ​