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Principal’s message on health and well-being

More Confronting COVID-19 Stories

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane shares his thoughts with faculty and staff on the challenges we share working from home.

Across the country, universities are doing their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their communities. At Queen’s this has meant a month like no other, with faculties and schools transitioning their classes to remote learning and the majority of staff moving to working from home.

In a special message to all faculty and staff, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane shared his thoughts on the size and pace of the change the university has been adapting to over the past several weeks.

“Every morning, the senior leadership team and I convene to speak with public health and find out what, if anything, has changed with the status of the virus,” says Principal Deane. “These are extraordinary times. Only a few weeks ago, it would never have occurred to me that this topic would be guiding my day, nor that every meeting I attend would be through the camera on my computer. Things have changed dramatically for us all and it feels as if it happened overnight.”

After pausing for a week to give faculties a chance to develop effective remote learning plans, faculty members and students were busy last week connecting through online lectures, video conferencing, instruction videos, and a host of other innovative ways.

At the same time, staff in Student Affairs were busy finding new ways to keep students connected to the many supports offered at Queen’s, including Student Wellness Services, Student Academic Success Services, Career Services, Faith and Spiritual Life, Four Directions Indigenous Centre, and the Office of the University Registrar to name a few.

In his message, Principal Deane also focused on the significant challenges many people are facing delivering on our academic mission while also worrying about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on their personal lives.

“People are struggling not just with a remote workplace but with all the complications and adjustments this brings. For some, there is the additional challenge of childcare, sharing space with a partner or other housemates, and worries about eldercare.  For those that live alone, there is a stark contrast to our usual work life with the social interaction significantly curtailed,” says Principal Deane. “We are social beings and we need each other. Our community has been incredibly creative in its ability to adapt education and work to a new remote format. We must be equally innovative in our support for one another.”

Along with the informal things teams of people can do to stay connected, such as daily check-ins and online lunches, the Principal pointed people to the Human Resources Department website which is preparing to post new materials and resources for staff working remotely to complement its list of FAQs and supports offered through the Employee and Family Assistance Program

Principal Deane also highlighted the Gazette’s work to create a series of stories that feature tips and tricks from Queen’s experts on how to stay safe and healthy during this crisis, as well as important examples of how the Queen’s community is coming together during these difficult times.

“I want to reiterate what I have written in other messages: nothing is more important than the health, well-being and safety of the Queen’s community. Please take care of yourself, your family and loved ones during this stressful time. Find ways to help one another,” says Principal Deane. “I strongly encourage you to connect using the many technology options available – whether it’s Microsoft Teams to connect with your colleagues, or Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp or other video sharing platforms to connect with friends and family. This is a time unlike any other in recent history, and that connectivity is critical. With it, we bring a little humanity back into our daily lives.”

To learn more about Queen’s ongoing response to this crisis, visit the Coronavirus COVID-19 Information website. It is updated daily with links to helpful new resources including the latest updates from the region’s health authority, KFL&A Public Health.

And keep an eye on the Gazette for more on how our work is changing, including a feature story recognizing the dedicated staff working on campus to deliver services that are essential to the mission of the university.