Coronavirus COVID-19 Information

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Information

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Updates

Queen's steps up face mask recommendations & requirements for those on campus

June 29, 2020

In response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingston region, Queen’s is strongly encouraging employees and students currently on campus to wear a face covering in all common areas, particularly in spaces where maintaining physical distancing is challenging.

To support this important safety measure, Queen’s has purchased two cloth face masks for each employee. These masks will be distributed to employees as they are permitted to return to campus as part of a phased return to regular operations. Please refer to guidelines for current information on who is currently allowed to be attending the Queen’s campus.

At this time, Queen’s is also complying with the new order from KFL&A Public Health requiring everyone to wear a face covering while inside a public facing commercial establishment. This currently applies to employees and customers in just a few areas of campus, including the Queen’s Centre and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, which has been approved to reopen shortly.

Protecting the health and safety of those on campus, as well as of the broader Kingston community, is the university's primary concern. It is important to note the local community and Queen’s are safe despite the recent increase in local cases. As always, everyone in the campus community is strongly encouraged to remain calm and vigilant and to follow the latest infection prevention and control measures provided by KFL&A Public Health. In addition to wearing a face mask, it’s important everyone carries out a range of health and safety actions, including frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching your face, disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. Everyone is also strongly encouraged to practice physical distancing of two metres (six feet), limit the size of groups, and avoid confined spaces, like elevators. More information on measures in place at Queen’s is also available on the university’s COVID-19 website.

Information on face mask distribution

Cloth masks can be picked up by Queen’s employees at the Queen’s Postal & Print Services (QPPS) office in Fleming Hall, Jemmett Wing, Room 001. Employees are reminded to practice physical distancing as there are others picking up mail and/or COVID supply packages. As this building is not considered accessible, if you need assistance please contact QPPS at (613) 533-6305 and your items will be delivered curbside to your vehicle.

At this time we ask that only those authorized to be on campus pick up their cloth masks. Strategic Procurement Services will work with Faculties and departments on a broader distribution plan as campus operations are approved to resume.

Employees can also use their own masks or face covering.


Principal's message on university-wide staff & faculty holidays: June 22, 2020

Dear Staff and Faculty,

It hardly needs to be said that the last few months have been exceedingly busy for us all.  That we have had to adapt to a new way of life that none of us could have foreseen has been stressful and frankly, exhausting.  But our community has weathered this difficult time with a great deal of creativity, flexibility and resilience, and I am very proud of what we have accomplished and of everyone’s hard work and dedication preparing for a very different fall and a future that is still largely uncertain. Recently a number of my colleagues at other universities have announced university-wide holidays to both recognize the extraordinary work being undertaken and to offer some time to rest and recharge for what lies ahead.  I am following suit and declaring July 2nd and 3rd university-wide holidays.  For those who already have July 2nd and 3rd scheduled as vacation, the days should not be deducted from your vacation allotment. Employees who are required to work on July 2nd and 3rd should speak to their managers to find an alternative time to use these designated university holidays.

I know that the last several months have taken a toll.  It has not been easy but I want you to know that I am very optimistic about our future and that is because I know our institution is being sustained by our talented and committed staff and faculty.   I am grateful to you all for the time and energy you have devoted to Queen’s.  Please enjoy your days off – you deserve them.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Provost's update on planning for Fall 2020: May 15, 2020

The Queen’s University community is giving its full attention to the coming year and the university will welcome new and returning students this fall with the same eagerness and excitement as in any other year.

Queen’s is working closely with Public Health officials on operational planning for the fall term, and communications will be sent to students, staff, and faculty when final decisions are made. When planning for the fall term, our commitment to the health and wellness of our community, as well as equity, inclusion, and accessibility, will help guide our decision making.  

In preparing for the fall term, we need to ensure we are ready for the likely possibility that we will face significant restrictions on classroom space given the anticipated need for physical distancing measures. As such, we expect most course delivery will need to be done through remote means in the fall and we are accelerating our efforts in planning for remote courses to ensure we are ready to offer the exceptional academic experience Queen’s students have come to expect.

We know that the on-campus student experience is a hallmark of Queen’s, and we continue to explore options to enable as many of our students as possible to be on campus in the fall while adhering to provincial legislation and public health guidelines. Should a significant number of students be able to return to campus in the fall, there may be opportunities for limited, in-person, course-related activities, such as a lab demonstration in a large auditorium, or small in-person seminars or program offerings. 

We also know that some courses and programs will require on-campus components this fall, even if physical distancing measures are still in place in September and classroom space is limited. Programs that have been identified as priorities for consistent on-campus delivery include:

  • The professional programs in Medicine, Nursing, and Rehabilitation Therapy in the Faculty of Health Sciences. These programs require on-campus delivery because of the need for on-site access for clinical skills training.
  • Research graduate master's, PhD, and some professional graduate and second entry programs, such as Law. These programs will likely need a combination of on-campus and remote delivery models to accommodate on-site access needs regarding labs and other critical teaching and research resources that cannot be accessed remotely.

Any on-campus classes, labs, and training would be conducted in accordance with Public Health protocols.

Senior leaders are working closely with Public Health officials to assess options for safe campus operations, including classroom use, office use, and timetabling. This is extremely complex work, and we will provide more detail as we have more information.

We recognize that needs may vary across departments in terms of the infrastructure and expertise needed to prepare for remote learning. The Principal is assessing supports needed to assist with remote delivery and will be working closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning to help faculty members across the campus.

Mark Green
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

Principal's update on planning for Fall 2020: May 4, 2020

With the 2019-2020 academic year wrapping up, the Queen’s University community is giving its full attention to the coming year and to the question of how we will provide our students with the same outstanding experience that for 179 years has defined our institution. What impact the COVID-19 pandemic will still be having on life in our city and province this fall is impossible to predict with certainty, so we are having to make decisions to prepare for a variety of scenarios. This is of course a challenging and complex situation, with September more than four months away and so much unknown.

One thing we do know for certain is that Queen’s will welcome new and returning students this fall with the same eagerness and excitement as in any other year. We will be open, but how “normal” life at Queen’s will be will depend on the best advice available from public health authorities to ensure that students enjoy stable, safe and stimulating conditions for their studies. It is certainly our hope that students will be on campus, but we are also preparing for the possibility of remote delivery should physical distancing still be required and significant concentrations of people be prohibited.

Whether such restrictions will be less or more severe is impossible to say at present. As I announced just a few weeks ago, we have teams of staff, faculty and students hard at work reviewing all the possible ways we might operate in the fall. They are committed to ensuring that whatever limits may be placed on our physical presence, the vitality of the community experience and the excellence of a Queen’s education are not compromised. What has drawn generations of students to Queen’s, and what has nourished and stimulated them while they were here, will be available to students this fall, regardless of the ways in which we might be forced to adapt to COVID-19. 

In the weeks and months ahead we will learn more, and as we do so we will take care to provide timely and clear information on the various decisions that we know will have to be made. Because academic programs vary widely in their needs, and because the conditions of learning and research differ across faculties and other units, aspects of course delivery will inevitably diverge across the institution. For that reason, it is the faculties that will increasingly be sources of information and guidance as we gain clarity on the implications of COVID-19 for our fall operations. It is too early yet to make final decisions, but I can commit to you that our goal will always be the full return of our students, staff and faculty. But if we are to be realistic, this is likely to be achieved in stages as we see public health restrictions being lifted. 

I am sure everyone understands how difficult it is to make these decisions in a context that is extremely changeable. The best I can do is promise to keep everyone — students returning, students arriving, staff and faculty — properly informed of the situation in which Queen’s will continue to pursue its distinguished mission.

Sincerely,
Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Message from the Principal to graduating students: April 7, 2020

Dear graduating students,

Yesterday you received an email message from Queen's Interim University Registrar inviting you to take a survey to indicate your preferences for a possible virtual convocation ceremony. While that message was sent with the best of intentions-seeking your input on a matter of great personal significance-I understand why it may have been upsetting to many of you.

I know that the opportunity to celebrate your success in the company of friends and family is enormously important for all students, especially at this university where our sense of community is so strong and so integral to the whole Queen's experience. A virtual ceremony, however well done, can be no substitute for that, and I am not surprised some of you have reacted with grief and anger at the message.

We have every intention of providing you, in the fall, with the kind of convocation experience you all hope for, but with the longer-term impact of the pandemic still unclear, we also know that this can change. Over the next few months, my office will lead a working group to address convocation and ensure that we are ready, once restrictions are lifted, to give you the graduation celebration you have worked so hard to attain. We will be looking for students to assist us with the planning.

Receiving your degree is one of life's milestones. Right now, perhaps more than ever, we are all acutely aware of just how precious such moments are. I will do everything I can to ensure Queen's delivers the convocation you so rightly deserve.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Message from Principal Deane: April 2, 2020

Dear members of the Queen’s Community,

The University has recently learned that one of our community members in Kingston has tested positive for COVID-19. With the number of cases in Canada, and Ontario, rising so quickly, the appearance of a case in our community was inevitable. Privacy prevents us from sharing personal details of the individual in question, but KFL&A Public Health is aware and involved with the case. The affected individual has been put on self-isolation and is being monitored. KFL&A Public Health is investigating and following up with close contacts of this individual. We have also reached out to offer our support.

Unfortunately, we know this will not be the only case to appear in our community. By now, you should all be aware of the efforts being made across the country and throughout our community to exercise physical distancing to flatten the curve of infection.

While not unexpected, this news is nevertheless unsettling, and I remind you all that there are supports in place, and links to a variety of information and resources on our COVID-19 website. I am also confident that we have taken the steps that we need to protect our community, by establishing remote course delivery for students and where possible, our employees are working from home. In addition, we have instituted physical distancing and other infection control practices amongst those employees who need to continue to work on campus. All of these measures are intended to flatten the curve on the rate of infection throughout our community.

Our team of staff members and public health officials monitoring the COVID-19 situation continue to meet regularly under the guidance of Dr. David Walker, and we are well prepared for these situations. As this was the first positive case at Queen’s, it was felt a notice to the community in this instance was appropriate, but in keeping with the practices of similar institutions and KFL&A Public Health, we will not be reporting on every case that is identified going forward.

I encourage you to stay informed with expert resources including KFL&A Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health or the Public Health Agency of Canada. Again, links to all of these sources and university-specific information for employees and students can be found on the Queen’s COVID-19 website. As a community, we are at a critical stage in our efforts to flatten the curve of infection and protect our health system and its workers. Together, we will prevail.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Message from Principal Deane: March 23, 2020

Dear Queen’s Community,

Just one week ago I wrote to all of you that we were entering an entirely new reality, one that would test us in ways we never imagined. I asked you to work differently and to prepare for a new way of delivering higher education. After a week’s hiatus during which faculty and staff have worked assiduously and creatively to find alternatives to face-to-face learning, Queen’s students are resuming their studies. Absorbed as we have been in addressing our local challenges, it is easy to overlook the momentous shift that has occurred over the last seven days as over a million university students across Canada have moved their learning online or onto other remote platforms. I have remarked to a few people that had we planned to do the same thing outside of the context of a public health emergency, we would have been hard pressed to manage it in less than a decade!

That we have done so here at Queen’s is testimony to the dedication and resolve of our university community. Of course, such rapid change comes at a price. For the remainder of the academic year our students have lost aspects of their Queen’s experience that are very important, in particular that sense of physical community which has always defined the institution. The University remains determined, however, that they should have every opportunity to complete their courses, and despite altered methods of assessment, to do so to the normal standard expected. Flexibility, innovative thinking and extraordinary efforts on the part of faculty and staff are prerequisites for that outcome, and I am grateful to colleagues across the university for their single-minded and unreserved commitment to the good of our students at all levels.

The challenges with regard to our research mission are also extremely complex and sometimes intractable. The need for social distancing and the shift towards working from home pose particular problems for research laboratories, and for many scholars the closing of the library to physical access is a serious impediment to their continuing research. While we may be forced to close our doors for a time, we will reopen and what we need now is patience, creativity and trust from everyone.

The paradox of our situation right now is that we are doing everything we can to keep ourselves, our institution and its mission together—even while the health crisis is driving all of those things apart. Public Health officials remind us daily that at times like these the public good trumps the needs and desires of the individual. I am grateful to all the individuals within the Queen’s community who have worked to support and advance the university mission despite the unprecedented challenges we are facing, and I am optimistic that we will emerge from this crisis with vitality, determination, and a renewed sense of purpose.

I wrote in my open letter last fall that we need to be ambitious for ourselves, that we need to be self-excelling, our eyes fixed on ways in which we can serve the greater human good. Unexpectedly we find ourselves confronted in our daily lives with an almost unimaginable threat to that good, and we must not fail to address it in our teaching, learning, and research. We must also confound it in the ways we relate to our community outside the university and in society at large. The university has been asked by health authorities and public leaders to offer its facilities and the talents of its members to support the people of Kingston and the surrounding region during this time of crisis. We will naturally work to do so. This is a time to demonstrate the values without which our university could not succeed, even in the best of times: compassion, understanding, trust and selflessness.

A week ago I expressed the hope that we would together face the challenges that lie ahead, and that in our unity we would prevail. Over this last week, I feel more confident than ever that our university will come through this crisis.  I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far and how we have rallied to support our institution and its members and I am humbled to be your Principal.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Message from Principal Deane: March 16, 2020

Read a summary of the key points from the statement

STATEMENT SUMMARY

Meetings and Gatherings

  • All gatherings, including work-related activities or events, are limited to no more than 10 people.
  • Social events and non-essential gatherings should be cancelled.
  • Essential meetings should be moved online.
  • Everyone should avoid any public spaces where personal distancing of two metres or more is not possible.

Academic Programming

  • Effective immediately, graduate programs will move to remote delivery. Last week, it was announced that undergraduate classes were to be moved to remote delivery. This now means all academic programs will move to remote delivery until the end of the semester.
  • Graduate student research activities should be accessed remotely whenever possible and where not, continue with appropriate social distancing, limiting any activities to 10 people or less.
  • No more in-person classes or labs for duration of the term for undergraduate and graduate courses.
  • No in-person examinations, except for comprehensives/dissertation defences. Consult your supervisor for more information.
  • Students will still complete the academic year, gaining course credits as appropriate, and those set to complete their programs, will do so.
  • Students in Kingston, or in any of our other locations where they may temporarily reside in order to access or academic services, should go home. However, we are not requiring people to leave.
  • Any summer course offerings that are not online are cancelled.
  • Summer programming at the Bader International Study Centre will not take place.

Convocation and Degrees

  • Students will graduate and degrees will be conferred, but spring convocation ceremonies will not take place.

Services

  • Residences, food halls, libraries, and essential administration offices will remain open. With fewer students using services, there will be some reduction in what can be provided.

Faculty and Staff

  • Human Resources will work with managers and staff to find flexible arrangements for staff and faculty affected by the closing of schools in the province.
  • Where possible, faculty and staff are being encouraged to work from home.
  • Over the next week, senior leadership will determine what services are essential .

Dear Queen’s Community,

I recognize that the last few days have given rise to many questions and concerns about the continuing operation of our university. COVID-19 is spreading around the world at a rapid pace and we are working to make the right decisions to protect our communities. On Friday, you received an email from me indicating that undergraduate classes (with the exception of health professional programs) would be suspended for the coming week as we move toward remote delivery of our programs. We made this decision in step with other post-secondary institutions quickly trying to decide what might be the best preventative approach to curb the spread of the virus. We are having to make decisions in real time, in the face of an ever-changing reality that is nearly impossible to predict. Many staff are working around the clock to ensure that those decisions are made with the latest science considered and with the best advice of our experts in public health. We want to deal with this situation in the best possible way, but to some extent it is a guessing game and no one knows with any certainty what lies ahead.

Some things are certain, however. The virus will come to our campuses, and when it does so we will need to manage it. While it is inevitable that members of our community will get sick, most will have only mild symptoms. They should stay home until they are well and take all possible measures to avoid infecting others. The point is to avoid all of us getting sick at once, because if we can slow the rate of infection through preventative measures like good hygiene and social distancing, we can keep our healthcare system whole and ensure that those few who might be more seriously affected by the virus will have access to the additional medical services they require. This must always be our goal.

We need to protect our community which includes our staff, faculty and students. With that in mind, I am announcing additional preventative measures for us all. Effective immediately, and upon the advice of public health, we are limiting all gatherings, including any work-related activities or events to no more than ten people. Social events and non-essential gatherings should be cancelled. Essential meetings should be moved on-line. Everyone should avoid any public spaces where personal distancing of two metres or more is not possible.

For students, an immediate change is that graduate programs will also be moved to remote delivery. There will be no more in person classes or labs for the duration of the term for undergraduate or graduate courses. There will be no in person exams (with the exception of comprehensives/dissertation defences). Graduate student research activities should be accessed remotely whenever possible and where not, continue with appropriate social distancing. All of the university’s academic programs will move to remote delivery until the end of the semester. Despite this change in format, our expectation is that students will complete the academic year, gaining course credits as appropriate, and those who are set to complete their programs, will do so. We are working diligently to avoid shutting down operations, but we must change the way we do things.

This leads me to convocation. For the foreseeable future social distancing will be critical to containing the spread of the virus, and for that reason convocation ceremonies in the conventional form will simply not be possible. Students will graduate and degrees will be conferred, but mass gatherings of hundreds of people will likely be no less hazardous in two months’ time than they are today. As we work out alternative arrangements we will communicate them, but it seems prudent to let you know now that traditional spring convocation ceremonies will not take place.

In addition, any summer course offerings that are not online are cancelled, and summer programming at the Bader International Centre will not take place.

Moving to remote delivery of academic programming means many students will now complete courses from their homes. We are strongly suggesting that students living in Kingston or any of our other locations where they may temporarily reside in order to access our academic services, should go home. We are not, however, requiring people to leave. We understand not everyone has that option and we will continue to strive to keep required services in order to support those that must remain. However, with fewer students using these services and with much of the staffing provided by students, there will be a reduction in what we are able to provide. This is a natural consequence.

For our staff and faculty, the most important first step is to speak with your manager or Dean about your specific circumstances. Recent announcements from the province closing schools for three weeks creates pressures on parents. Our Human Resources Department is asking managers and staff to find flexibility to accommodate this strain on a significant proportion of our work force. Although the university remains open at this time, we are encouraging staff, where possible, to work remotely. In light of advice from public health for greater social distancing, all offices should think about ways to organize their work to promote this. Please also refer to communication provided by your own Faculties and Divisions about continued operations.

This is an evolving and unprecedented situation and I am asking for your patience, support and creativity as we respond to it. Missteps in this process are inevitable, but I can promise you that the leadership of the university will always be guided by the desire to do what is best for the health and safety of all our students, staff and faculty. COVID-19 will test our health care system, certainly, but it will also test our social institutions in ways that have become vividly apparent in the last few weeks. So far it has challenged our university to find new ways to do its work, to ensure that our communal goal—the education of students and the advancement of knowledge—remains in sight even while the opportunity for personal interactions vital to that mission is reduced or eliminated. This test of our institution is also a test of every individual within it. In proportion to the disaggregating demands placed on us by the virus, we need to show patience, kindness and compassion, to pursue cooperation and to support each other at every opportunity.

I am confident we will prevail.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor